Top consumer complaints of 2012: Fraud, ID theft top the list

In our stories last year, we documented numerous attempts by scammers to steal identities and rip off consumers.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than two million complaints last year and more than half of them were about some kind of fraud, according to the FTC's Top 10 Consumer Complaints for 2012 .

The report , compiled by the Consumer Sentinel Network , was released last week. The FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, 14 state attorneys general and consumer protection groups like the Better Business Bureau enter complaints into the network each year.

Here's the list of the top 10 complaints:

1.       Identity Theft

2.       Debt Collection

3.       Banks and lenders

4.       Shop-at-home and catalog sales

5.       Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries

6.       Imposter scams

7.       Internet scams

8.       Auto-related complaints

9.       Telephone and mobile services

10.   Credit cards

Fifty-two percent of the complaints were fraud-related last year. Consumers reported that they paid more than $1.4 billion because of the fraud.

Most said their first mode of contact with the fraudsters began via email, so be sure to watch out for any emails you get asking you to pay money or to send it anywhere – especially by wire transfer. Consumers also reported that 47 percent of those who paid in fraudulent schemes did it via wire transfer.

The number one complaint category, though, was identity theft. And, it turns out, Arizona is one of the worst places in the country to live if you want to avoid being targeted for this crime.

Arizona ranked eighth in the nation in identity theft complaint rates last year, the report said, and most of them were related to government benefits and credit card fraud.

Remember, scammers sometimes try to get your personal or financial information by posing as legitimate, government sites. So, unless you can verify a site or email is legitimate, don't give out your credit card information, your social security number or anything personal on-line.

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