Americans' complaints about identity theft surge in 2014
2015-08-03 15:55:00

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2-- Identity theft topped the list of fastest-growing U.S. consumer complaints in 2014 while problems related to auto, home improvement and construction, and credit and debt issues remained the top three consumer complaints.

The U.S. consumers have filed a total of 281,639 complaints in 2014, about 4.9 percent higher than 2013, said the 2014 Consumer Complaint Survey Report, issued by Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI) recently.

The total amount saved or recovered for consumers through the intervention of consumer agencies exceeded 123 million U.S. dollars last year, 11.5 percent less than 2013, said the annual consumer report.

"Considering the epidemic of data breaches that we've been experiencing in the last year, it's not surprising that more consumers are contacting state or local consumer agencies for help to resolve the problems that identity theft can cause," said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection and privacy at the CFA.

Consumers' stolen personal information was used to impersonate them in order to claim their tax refunds as a particular fast- growing and troublesome problem, said the report.

"Government benefits fraud resulting from identity theft makes it very difficult for the victims to claim benefits that are rightfully theirs," said Amber Capoun, president of the NACPI.

The total number of U.S. data breaches tracked in 2014 hit a record high of 783 in 2014, 27.5 percent higher than the number of breaches reported in 2013, said a report earlier this year, released by the Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization to track identity theft, based in San Diego, California.

Hacking has topped the list of crimes that Americans worry about most, said a Gallup survey last October. Sixty-nine percent of Americans reported they frequently or occasionally worried about their credit card information they used in stores stolen by computer hackers as the list of major U.S. retailers hit by credit card hackers continued to grow in 2014.

"The solution to the problem isn't to provide consumers with identity theft insurance, it's to require better security to prevent their personal information from being stolen and fraudulently used," said Grant.

The top three complaints continue to be the same, because these problems often result in significant impacts on consumer's lives and consumers are more likely to make complaints about them than other issues, said the report.

The rest seven complaints are in the areas of retail sales, services like shoddy work, landlord and tenant, home solicitation, health products and service, fraud and household goods.

The 2014 Consumer Complaint Survey Report was done based on the response of 37 consumer agencies in 21 states. Several agencies suggested the lawmakers to address "the sharing economy", as current Consumer Laws only apply to business-to-consumer transactions, do not necessarily fit well with new forms of commerce such as when individual provide services to other individual through platforms like Uber. Editor:Nicky