Photo (cc) by allan.rotgers
Americans sure have a lot to gripe about these days — from problems with banks or their wireless provider to being victimized by scams run by impostors. The Federal Trade Commission received more than 3.08 million consumer complaints in 2015.
For the first time in 15 years, the FTC received more debt-collection complaints (897,655) from consumers than it did identity theft complaints (490,220), which had previously held the top spot among consumer complaints since 2000.
Debt collection gripes made up 29 percent of the complaint calls to the FTC last year, while 16 percent of the complaints were related to identity theft. The Consumer Sentinel Network data book is an annual report documenting consumer complaints received by the FTC, as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations and non-governmental organizations.
“While debt collection complaints rose to the top spot among complaint categories, the report notes that this was due in large part to a surge in complaints contributed by a data contributor who collects complaints via a mobile app,” the FTC explains. “This change caused a spike in complaints related to unwanted debt collection mobile phone calls.”
Still, identity theft complaints rose by more than 47 percent from 2014, on the heels of growing complaints about tax identity theft fraud.
“We recognize that identity theft and unlawful debt collection practices continue to cause significant harm to many consumers,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Steps like the recent upgrade to IdentityTheft.gov and our leadership of a nationwide initiative to combat unlawful debt collection practices are critical to our ongoing work to protect consumers from these harms.”
The FTC says these were the top five consumer complaints in 2015:
- Debt collection: 897,655 complaints. (For ways to deal with this problem, check out “4 Steps to Stop Debt Collectors in Their Tracks.”)
- Identity theft: 490,220. There are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. Click here for 10 great tips.
- Impostor scams: 353,770
- Telephone and mobile services: 275,754
- Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries: 140,136
You can file a consumer complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
What’s your biggest gripe as a consumer? Did it make the list? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.