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Consumer credit complaints see huge jump, FTC says

ID theft is still biggest complaint, but other credit issues are booming


Identity theft again topped the list of consumer complaints made to the Federal Trade Commission in 2009, but the number of Americans ticked off about their credit showed the sharpest increase.

The FTC's annual list is based on information from the Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN), a secure online database of millions of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement.  The CSN includes complaints received by the FTC as well as other consumer-focused agencies. During the 2009 calendar year, consumers submitted over 1.3 million complaints, with the identity theft category collecting 21 percent of the overall grievances.    

Although it once again topped the list, the number of ID theft-related complaints declined by five percentage points from the 2008 report, with credit card fraud -- the most common form of reported ID theft -- also down by 3 percentage points.  

Still, FTC data shows that credit and debt were the fastest-rising sources of aggravation last year. Reported problems with credit cards more than tripled in a single year, with 45,203 complaints filed. In 2008, there were 13,196 credit card related complaints, ranking 18th among the categories of complaints. But as card issuers raised interest rates, cut credit limits and imposed new fees in advance of the arrival of the Credit CARD Act, the complaints surged, advancing credit cards 11 spots in the complaint list, to the No. 7 most-complained-about item.

Complaints about advance-fee loans and credit protection/repair services also climbed the rankings, each rising from about 1 percent of the complaints to about 3 percent. Meanwhile, debt collection accounted for the second-highest number of complaints (9 percent) and credit bureaus and reports (2 percent) was the 11th most frequent source of complaint.   

In conjunction with the release of the complaint data, the Federal Trade Commission also unveiled a video showing consumers how to file a complaint: 

For a more complete list of the most common consumer complaints, see the graphic below or visit the FTC's website.

FTC consumer complaints 2009

See related: Credit card reform arrives in the form of the Credit CARD Act, 10 things you should know about identity theft, 10 ways to protect yourself from data breaches

Published: February 24, 2010

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