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Inside Privacy Updates on Developments in Global Privacy & Data Security from Covington & Burling LLP

FTC Annual Report Reveals Identity Theft — Not Privacy — Is Top Consumer Complaint

Posted in Advertising & Marketing, Federal Trade Commission, Privacy Policies, Social Media, United States

Yesterday the FTC released its annual report of consumer complaints, highlighting identity theft as the leading category of complaints, with 18% of the total.  The 2012 report analyzes complaints received by the FTC, certain other federal agencies, state law enforcement agencies, and non-governmental organizations such as the Better Business Bureau.  After identity theft, consumers filed the most complaints about debt collection (10%); banks and lenders (6%); shop-at-home and catalog sales (6%); prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries (5%); impostor scams (4%); Internet services (4%); auto-related complaints (4%); telephone and mobile services (4%); and credit cards (3%).

Despite the close attention of regulators and the press to the privacy policies of Internet sites and services, including mobile applications, the number of consumer complaints concerning these entities remains relatively low.  Of the total number of complaints, Internet information services received 1.79%, social networking services received 0.25%, Internet gaming received 0.12%, and mobile applications and other mobile downloads received just 0.02%.  Consumers appear to be far more troubled with identity theft and fraud-related issues, which, combined, accounted for 70% of consumer complaints in 2012.