The Federal Trade Commission has released a report with new information about identity theft. While it’s generally believed that seniors are the most likely victims of this type of fraud because they’re assumed to be more vulnerable, the report shows that’s not the case.
The Consumer Sentinel Network, the database used in the report, is available only to law enforcement and includes information input by a long list of agencies and organizations — the Better Business Bureau, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Post Office and even the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
During 2012 alone,
2 million complaints were logged, broken down as follows: 52 percent fraud, 18 percent identity theft and 30 percent other types of complaints, such as debt collection, banks and lenders, prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries and impostor scams.
Government documents and benefits were the most common type of identity theft, followed by credit cards and phone or utilities. Florida, Georgia and California have the highest per capital rate of identity theft. The average dollar loss per fraud victim was $2,350.
In the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, it appears that the older the age group, the higher the percentage of overall fraud victims, until reaching the seniors.
20-29: 15 percent
30-39: 16 percent
40-49: 19 percent
50-59: 23 percent
60-69: 17 percent
Older than 70: 9 percent
However, when it comes to actual identity theft, the numbers are reversed:
20-29: 21 percent
30-39: 19 percent
40-49: 18 percent
50-59: 17 percent
60-69: 11 percent
Older than 70: 8 percent
How does this happen? Scammers pretend to be from government agencies or credit-card companies and call to ask for personal information. Twenty-somethings, raised on electronic gadgets, give it to them.
If you’ve become a victim of identity theft, contact your bank and credit card companies. If you think your information has been compromised, put a freeze on your credit information at all three credit bureaus.
Order copies of your credit reports and study them carefully to make sure all the information is correct.
File a complaint with the FTC (www.ftc.gov) and the police. The information you add to the database will help law enforcement in their investigations. To learn more about the Sentinel Network, go to www.FTC.gov/sentinel.
Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to email@example.com.