The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an organization that is charged with providing protection to American consumers. As part of their effort to live up to this mission, the FTC collects complaints from people. Every year, they release a report that breaks down the top offenders, with regards to complaints logged. The report is called the “Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Report. In the 2015 report, identity theft, debt collection practices and imposter schemes came in as the activities that generated the most complaints.
It is not surprising that debt collection complaints have become the top offending category. There was a large spike in consumer complaints that were given over by a data contributor. This organization collects consumer complaints by way of a mobile app. This change, alone, saw complaints about unwanted debt collections calls to consumers’ cell phones to increase drastically.
It is also easy to understand why identity theft is near the top of this list. These types of issues have been on the rise, and they have been very high profile to boot. As a matter of fact, these types of issues rose an astonishing 47 percent between 2014 and 2015. And since identity theft has been one of the top ranking categories for a decade and a half, it was sure to show up on the list for 2015. Imposter scams, the number three ranking category, were focused on scammers contacting consumers and pretending to be someone that they really aren’t, in efforts to commit fraudulent activities.
Jessica Rich is the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, she chimed in on this year’s report, saying, “We recognize that identity theft and unlawful debt collection practices continue to cause significant harm to many consumers. Steps like the recent upgrade to IdentityTheft.gov and our leadership of a nationwide initiative to combat unlawful debt collection practices are critical to our ongoing work to protect consumers from these harms.”
In January, the FTC released information to the public about their new initiative, IdentityTheft.gov. This website gives American consumers the ability to put together personal identity theft recovery plans. The FTC also increased efforts against companies that violate laws that were created to protect consumers from illegal debt recovery actions. This led to one of the largest cooperative efforts to date, and resulted in over 130 legal actions taking place.
The Top 10 List No One Wants to Be On
In case you were wondering how the entire Top 10 list shakes out, here are the categories. They are listed from the most complained about categories of complaints, with #1 being the worst offender:
- Debt Collections
- Identity Theft Issues
- Imposter Scams
- Phone and Mobile Services
- Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries
- Banks and Lenders
- Shop-At-Home and Catalog Sales
- Automobile Related Issues
- TV and Electronic Media
- Credit Bureaus, Report Users and Information Providers
If you have ever thought about logging an official consumer complaint, but thought that you were alone, you can clearly see that there have been plenty of people busy doing likewise. Remember, the FTC is supposed to serve each and every American consumer. If you have been victim to any organizations that line up with the categories above, you can post a complaint via the FTC’s official website.
In the meantime, always use your best judgment and do plenty of research on any financial providers that you plan on doing business with. Doing so may not help you to avoid all of the scammers out there, but it is a good practice to get into.