WASHINGTON – Identity theft complaints doubled in 2002 according to a just-released Federal Trade Commission study. FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Chief Howard Beales reported that the increase in complaints comes with greater public awareness of the problem, which in part has been prompted by the agency’s efforts and recent high-profile identity theft cases. “What we are seeing increasingly is identity theft because some insider steals information from their employer and sells it,” Beales said. “While law enforcement is doing what it can, it is up to employers to safeguard their personnel and customer files.” Of the incidents reported in 2002, 42% involved credit card fraud. Other major categories involved fraudulent bank and cell phone accounts. In addition, the report finds that approximately half of all other types of fraud complaints had some connection to the Internet ranging from online transactions and Web site advertising, to promotions sent as e-mail spam. This is the third consecutive year identity theft has topped the list of consumer fraud complaints. The FTC plans to have a more detailed report on identity theft next month.

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