Top 10 FTC 2012 Complaints
Driven by an explosion in tax related ID fraud, identity theft is now the largest FTC complaint category, and the runner-up—debt collection—registered only about half as many complaints. In 2006, tax refund theft comprised just 16% of all ID theft complaints. For 2012, that figure jumped to 43%, representing 12,000 complaints. For comparison, credit card fraud—which most of us, including me, tend to think of as the sort of ID theft to which we’re most vulnerable—made up just 14% of 2012 ID theft complaints.
I see our friends in “financial services”—debt collectors and bankers—score high on the complaint category ranking. Debt collectors doesn’t surprise me, as the industry attracts the type of individual lacking the scruples even to make a living selling used cars. But bankers I would have guessed might be treating the consumer with a bit more respect these days given that many would be unemployed now if not for taxpayer bailouts in 2008 and 2009. Naive, I know.
Have You Been Victimized?
Did you file, or could you have filed, in 2012 a complaint in any of the categories above?
I’m not very bright, but solving fraudulent tax return filing seems relatively simple to me: Your tax return must include a unique PIN assigned to you by the IRS. To get your PIN, you register on the IRS’ website, providing your Social Security number, birth date, and a figure from a specified line of the prior year’s tax return. For the Internet-phobic, a call to an 800 number substitutes for registration through the IRS website. Tax returns without PINs are rejected, as are returns with incorrect PINs. What do you think?