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WASHINGTON-For the fourth year in a row in 2003, identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission’s top 10 consumer complaint list. Identity theft-related complaints accounted for 42% of all complaints lodged with the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. Overall, more than half-a-million complaints poured into FTC in 2003, up from 404,000 in 2002; Internet-related complaints is a growing problem and accounted for more than half (55%) of all fraud reports, compared to 45% in 2002. Of the 516,740 total complaints received by FTC in 2003, 301,835 were complaints about fraud and 214,905 were identity theft reports. The median loss for fraud victims in general was $228, FTC reported. The large cities with the highest per capita rates of identity theft reported were Phoenix/Mesa, Ariz.; Los Angeles/Long Beach; and Riverside/San Bernardino, Calif. The top categories of consumer fraud complaints included Internet auctions (15%), shop-at-home/catalog sales (9%), Internet services and computer complaints (6%), and prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries (5%), among others. Consumers can complain directly to the FTC or complaints can be routed through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, The National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, Canada’s Phonebusters, and Better Business Bureaus contribute complaint data to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. The top 10 categories of consumer fraud complaints in 2003 include: *Internet Auctions – 15 % *Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales – 9 % *Internet Services and Computer Complaints – 6 % *Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries – 5 % *Foreign Money Offers – 4 % *Advance Fee Loans and Credit Protection – 4% *Telephone Services – 3 % *Business Opportunities and Work-at-Home Plans – 2 % *Magazine Buyers Clubs – 1 % *Office Supplies and Services – 1 %

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