For the third
consecutive year, the most common fraud was identity theft, the
Federal Trade Commission said Jan. 22, with the number of 2002 victims
nearly doubling to about 162,000 -- 43 percent of all fraud complaints.
theft involves credit card fraud and cell phone purchases. But it's
also used to obtain loans and defraud banks and in other ways, the
of Columbia had the highest number of victims of identity fraud
per capita, followed by California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Florida,
New York and Washington.
More than 380,000
complaints in 2002 went to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel system, the
agency's complaint database, which collects information from the
FBI, law enforcement and consumer groups.
of the fraud complaints -- 47 percent -- involved the Internet.
The median amount of money lost in a fraud case was $218. Half of
all victims were 30 to 49 years of age. About 13 percent of fraud
victims were 60 or older.
use eBay and other legitimate auction Web sites to sell counterfeits
or to simply take money and disappear. Other Internet scams involve
advance fee loans, catalog sales and offers from those who claim
they are desperate for a loan and will pay it back many times over.
The FTC said
Americans should research Internet offers by crosschecking information
on the Internet and through the Better Business Bureau. Some other
advice: Consumers should rip up credit card receipts and make sure
no one is standing behind them at automated teller machines or pay
phones when they're using credit cards.
the commission said it’s a good idea to give Social Security numbers
and other personal information, including birthday, telephone number
and address, only to people you trust.