Federal Trade Commission Reports:
Identity theft complaints count from Georgia victims: 11,625. Percentages are based on the 11,625 victims reporting from Georgia. Top 10 fraud and other complaint categories reported by Georgia consumers:
Rank Top Categories Percentage
Debt Collection; 5,681; 13 percent
Banks and Lenders; 3,801; 9 percent
Auto-Related Complaints; 2,853; 7 percent
Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales;
2,513; 6 percent
- Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries;
2,476; 6 percent
- Telephone and Mobile Services;
2,006; 5 percent
Internet Services; 1,951; 4 percent
Impostor Scams; 1,783; 4 percent
Television and Electronic Media;
1,285; 3 percent
- Business Opportunities, Employment
Agencies and “Work-at-Home Plans;”
1,263; 3 percent
Complaints about identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission website: ftc.gov/sentinel/reports/sentinel-annual-reports/sentinel-cy2011.pdf
Government documents/benefits fraud (27 percent) was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by credit card fraud (14 percent), phone or utilities fraud (13 percent), and bank fraud (9 percent). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were employment fraud (8 percent) and loan fraud (3 percent).
Complaints about government documents/benefits fraud increased 11 percent since calendar year 2009; identity theft-related credit card fraud complaints, on the other hand, declined 3 percentage points since calendar year 2009.
Forty-five percent of identity theft complainants reported whether they contacted law enforcement. Of those victims, 70 percent notified a police department. Fifty-seven percent indicated a report was taken.
Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia and California.
Rank of metropolitan areas; Complaints; Complaints per 100,000 population
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area;
Montgomery, Ala. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 617; 168.6
Greeley, Colo. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 403; 165.3
Columbus, Ga. Metropolitan Statistical Area: 463; 163.7
Dunn, N.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 177; 162.8
Port St. Lucie, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 642; 160.5
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 4,255; 156.2
Madera, Calif. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 223; 152.2
Savannah, Ga. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 492; 149.4
Albany, Ga. Metropolitan Statistical Area 245; 149.3
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 7,787; 147.5
Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 2,989; 147.1
Gainesville, Ga. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 261; 144.9
Lakeland, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 819; 142.5
Punta Gorda, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 216; 141.3
Macon, Ga. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 320; 139.2
Valdosta, Ga. Metropolitan Statistical Area;179; 137.5
El Paso, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area; 1,009; 137.3
Fresno, Calif. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 1,227; 136.4
Tallahassee, Fla. Metropolitan Statistical Area; 480; 136.2
ALBANY, Ga. -- There are times when ranking in the top 10 is not what a community wants.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the Albany metropolitan area ranks 10th in the country for reported identity thefts.
The Albany city website Albany.ga.us offers information on identity theft. It suggests three first steps.
"First, contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Request a "fraud alert" be placed in your file as well as a victim's statement asking the creditors call before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts."
The three credit bureaus are: Equifax (800) 525-6285; Experian (888) 397-3742; TransUnion (800) 680-7289.
Speaking for Atlanta-based Equifax, fraud expert Peter Schoenrock said that there is an insidious type of fraud that targets children and their futures.
Schoenrock said, "Child identity theft is becoming an increasingly big part of the problem. In 2011, more than 19,000 child identity theft complaints were reported to the FTC, compared to about 6,000 cases in 2003."
Child identity theft numbers were not available for our specific area from any source including the Federal Trade Commission. Schoenrock did explain how the fraud works.
"Child identity theft most often occurs when someone obtains the Social Security number or other identifying information of a minor and uses it to apply for a credit card, bank account, loan, job, driver's license, or even government benefits," Schoenrock said. "A parent may not discover the child's identity has been stolen or compromised for years -- perhaps finding out when collection agencies call or when the child becomes an adult and is turned down for that first credit card."
The next steps include contacting creditors' security or fraud departments. Notify credit card companies in writing along with the phone call. Close all your accounts and use new Personal Identification Numbers.
File a report with law enforcement in the community where the fraud took place: Albany Police Department; Dougherty County Police Department; Dougherty and Lee County Sheriff's Office and other jurisdictions. Make sure you get a copy of the police report in case a creditor needs proof.
Schoenrock said that the consumer division of his company has come up with a family plan to help protect parents and their children from various types of identity theft in response to the increasing use of identity theft by scammers.