TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Identity Theft, Net Scams Rose in '04-FTC

Identity Theft, Net Scams Rose in '04-FTC

Lisa Minter (
02 Feb 2005 07:58:57 -0800

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it received 635,000 consumer
complaints in 2004 as criminals sold nonexistent products through
online auction sites like eBay Inc. or went shopping with stolen
credit cards.

Identity theft -- the practice of running up bills or committing
crimes in someone else's name -- topped the list with 247,000
complaints, up 15 percent from the previous year.

Fraud and identity theft cost consumers at least $437 million in

Internet-related fraud accounted for more than half of the remaining
complaints as scammers found victims through Web sites or unsolicited
e-mail, the FTC said.

Auction fraud was the most common Internet scam, the FTC said in its
annual fraud report, followed by complaints about online shopping and
Internet access service.

The number of incidents was up across nearly every category from 2003,
but it was unclear whether that represented an actual increase in
fraud or simply a greater awareness of the FTC's Consumer Sentinel
fraud program.

Consumers likely lost significantly more than the amount reported, as
fewer than half were able to pin a dollar figure on their losses.

The median monetary loss reported was $259, though 41 consumers
reported losses of $1 million or more.

The FTC did not specify how many identity-theft incidents took place
online. A recent report by the Better Business Bureau found that most
cases of identity theft occurred through the theft of a checkbook or
other offline methods.

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