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WASHINGTON-For the fifth consecutive year, the Federal Trade Commission placed identity theft at the top of the list of most common consumer fraud complaints in 2004. Identity theft accounted for 39% (246,570) of the 635,173 fraud complaints filed with the FTC last year. Over half, 53% of all reported fraud complaints were Internet-related. “These are real people who have lost real money and the FTC offers them a direct link to finding a solution,” said Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. “By filing complaints, consumers are one click away from thousands of law enforcement partners who can help restore their good name, protect their financial security, and give the FTC the information we need to stop fraud in its tracks.” Rounding out the top five consumer fraud complaints were Internet auctions (16%), shop-at-home/catalog sales (8%), Internet services and computer complaints (6%), and foreign money offers (6%). Credit card fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft, according to the FTC, followed by phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud, and employment fraud. The major metropolitan areas with the highest per-capita incidents of identity theft were Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.; and Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. Consumers can file fraud and identity theft complaints at www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters consumer complaints and complaints from other law enforcement and consumer protection agencies in its Consumer Sentinel database, which is accessible to over 1,200 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

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