As the nation’s consumer protection agency, it’s the job of the Federal Trade Commission to promote ways that consumers can be protected against unfair and deceptive business practices and to prevent businesses from using anti-competitive practices to promote their own operations.
As an independent agency for the U.S. Government, the FTC is responsible for educating consumers against identity theft and the ongoing war against fraud, investigating and prosecuting illegal activities.
You can help the FTC in their quest to protect consumers by filing a complaint or concern in thirty distinct areas. Consumer Sentinel is the secure online database where any complaint you file will be collected with those of others and then made available to law enforcement agencies and civil and criminal law authorities worldwide.
The database also includes information from a variety of state and federal agencies, including the FBI, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Postal Service and attorney generals from some states. Secular organizations contribute information on a voluntary basis, as well. When enough information on a specific issue has been reported, the FTC can detect patterns of illegal or deceptive activities, begin an investigation and prosecute when appropriate.
With all this vital information compiled into categories in one place, the FTC issues an annual list. The list for 2012 was recently released and it’s not surprising to see a jump in the numbers against those reported in 2011 with more consumers taking the initiative to report their complaints.
There was one general area that comprised a number of slots in the FTC list – those related to consumer financial services. At the top of the list once again is the dreaded crime of identity theft, representing 18% of consumer complaints, a jump of 32 percent from 2011.
Debt collection service issues were second in the top-ten list after identity theft, followed right behind by bank and lender concerns. Credit cards, which often are spoken of in disparaging terms, came in dead last in the tenth spot.
Also included in the thirty categories are other financially related complaints regarding advance payment services, mortgage foreclosures, credit reporting and investments.
|Rank||Category||Number of Complaints||%|
|3||Banks and Lenders||132,340||6%|
|4||Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales||115,184||6%|
|5||Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries||98,479||5%|
|9||Telephone and Mobile Services||76,783||4%|
As you can see from the top complaints listed above, consumers are running into problems in a wide range of everyday life experiences. By analyzing the data, law enforcement is able to discern factors involved in fraud and identity thefts that can be used to discover the methods used and hopefully catch the perpetrators themselves.
This is why it is so important for you to file legitimate complaints with the FTC so that government officials can begin to address the areas of most concern and law enforcement and the legal system will have the tools necessary to help prevent the criminal activity that affects everyone’s quality of life and negatively impacts our whole society.
Noreen Ruth is a regular contributor to www.asapcreditcard.com and a variety of other financial blogs and websites. She specializes in credit and debt-related issues and enjoys educating consumers about the latest rules and regulations. She has covered topics on debt management, credit card offers, saving money and a variety of other finance topics to help consumers make prudent financial decisions.
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