Identity theft has been the #1 consumer complaint for 14 consecutive years according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), except that they do not include federal and state do-not-call (DNC) list registry complaints in the complaint comparison. Today, the FTC reported that some companies get around the DNC list. A telephone call can be the precursor to fraud and identity theft.
In 2013, there were 3,748,655 Federal DNC complaints made to the FTC. In contrast, the FTC reported that there were 2,101,780 consumer complaints of which 290,056 (13.8%) were identity theft complaints. That's 13 federal DNC list complaints for every identity theft complaint.
In 2013, the telephone became the #1 mode of initial contact (40%) for victims of identity theft and fraud. Email, contact, which had been the #1 method of contact in 2012, dropped to #2 (33%) in 2013. It is reasonable to assume that identity thieves and fraudsters do not comply with state or federal DNC lists when contacting prospective victims. Consumers must beware of social engineering techniques through telephone and email communications.
The FTC offers this advice to consumers when receiving unwanted telephone calls in today's FTC consumer education release:
- File a complaint with the National Do Not Call Registry. If you get a sales call after your number has been on the list for 31 days, complain to www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222; it’s toll-free.
- If you answer a telemarketing call, don’t give out your personal or financial information. Treat your personal and financial information like cash. Don’t divulge information about whether you own your home, what you have in your home, alternate phone numbers, your birth date, social security number, or credit card or bank account information.
- Hang up on any robocalls. If you answer a robocall, don’t respond to any automated instructions. In particular, don’t press any numbers, even if they say it is to get more information. Doing so may be taken as “consent” to use and sell your phone number to another company
- File a complaint with the FTC online or by calling 1-877-382-4357 or TTY 1-866-653-4261.