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ID theft up, and 20-somethings suffer most

Identity theft was by far the biggest complaint to the Federal Trade Commission in 2008, according to a new report.

Update at 9:30 a.m. PST: A new chart has been added to the end of the article.

This was originally published in ZDNet's Between the Lines.

Identity theft cases surged in 2008, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Last year, ID theft was by far the biggest complaint to the FTC, representing 26 percent of total problems reported. The next biggest one--third-party and creditor debt collection scams--represented only 9 percent of complaints.

The FTC's annual Consumer Sentinel Network report (PDF), released Thursday, details that ID theft complaints totaled nearly 314,000 in 2008, up from about 259,000 in 2007 and up substantially from about 31,000 in 2000.

The Consumer Sentinel Network is a secure online database that harvests complaints from law enforcement authorities, as well as other groups such as the Internet Crime Complaint Center and Better Business Bureau.


Here are the top 10 complaint categories, which often dovetail with the Internet.


E-mail is clearly the preferred means of propagating fraud. Scam artists are most likely going to nail you via e-mail. Phone scams have fallen from 11 percent to 7 percent from 2007 to 2008. My hunch: as more consumers use wireless as their primary phone, it's harder to track down victims.


What's also notable: the demographics. Twenty-somethings are most likely to get hit with ID theft.