Thursday, February 27, 2014

2013 FTC Consumer Sentinel Report - Identity Theft By U.S. City

Each year the Federal Trade Commission publishes a detailed report on the Fraud and Identity Theft complaints they received during the previous year, not just at the FTC, but throughout their Consumer Sentintel Network.

Some of the leading members of that network include the Better Business Bureau and the FBI's Internet Crime and Complaint Center (

You can review the entire 2013 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book on your own if you want to look up more about your state.

Just like last year, fraud that began by telephone/telemarketing was the top category, but 33% of all Fraud complaints started with an email!

Complaints by category were:

14% - Identity Theft
10% - Debt Collection Fraud
7% - Banks and Lenders
6% - Imposter Scams
6% - Telephone and Mobile Service Scams
4% - Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
4% - Auto-related Fraud
3% - Shop-at-home and Catalog Sales fraud
3% - Television and Electronic Media fraud
2% - Advanced Payment for Credit Services fraud

In the Fraud categories, over 1 million complaints were filed including $1.6 billion in fraud, where the median reported amount paid was $400. (Only 61% of those alleging fraud stated a loss amount.)

Within the category of Identity Theft, the top categories were:

34% - government documents/benefits fraud
17% - Credit Card Fraud
14% - Phone/Utilities Fraud
8% - Bank Fraud
6% - Employment-related Fraud
4% - Loan Fraud

In 2012, there were 369,145 Identity Theft Complaints registered by Consumer Sentinel.
In 2013, there were 290,056 Identity Theft Complaints.

That's a 21.5% reduction in Identity Theft Complaints! Does this indicate that Identity Theft improved from 2012 to 2013? Or does it indicate that Identity Theft has become so common place that people don't get irate and call the Better Business Bureau or the FTC when it occurs?

Wire Transfer Tops the Fraud Losses List

American consumers are just DESPARATE to throw their money away in Wire Transfers. Even though every wire transfer place I've visited in the last two years has big warning signs about the various forms of fraud involving sending your money away in a wire transfer, it continues to be the top way in which fraudsters separate their victims from their money.

YEARComplaintsMoney Wired Out
Western Union and MoneyGram both have warning pages to help protect consumers! Follow their advice to not lose the average $4836 that more than 100,000 complained about last year!

Western Union has Eight Tips at their Knowledge Center:

  1. Never send money to people you haven't met in-person
  2. Never send money to pay for taxes or fees on lottery or prize winnings
  3. Never use a test question as an additional security measure to protect your transaction
  4. Never provide your banking information to people you don't know
  5. Never send money in advance to obtain a loan or credit card
  6. never send money for an emergency situation without verifying that it's a real emergency. (Gee - like a London Traveler Scam?)
  7. Never send funds from a check in your account until it officially clears - which can take weeks
  8. Never send a money transfer for an online purchase

MoneyGram has a great page called The 11 Most Common Wire Transfer Frauds that include:

  1. The Vehicle Purchase Scam
  2. The Fake Loan Scam
  3. The Lottery or Sweepstakes Scam
  4. The Internet Romance Scam
  5. The Mystery Shopper Scam
  6. The Charity Scam
  7. The Relative in Need Scam
  8. The Internet Purchase Scam
  9. The Newspaper Ads Scam
  10. The Check or Money Order Scam
  11. The Elder Abuse Scam
They even have a nice Dodge the Scams Game to help you get it down pat!

Green Dot MoneyPak

In the most significant change in fraud payment behavior, this year 28% of fraud losses occurred via Prepaid cards, which was almost exclusively Green Dot Money cards. Two years ago this category of fraud losses didn't even exist! From 2012 to 2013 the number of victims went up 500% and the amount of money lost went up 600%!!

YEARComplaintsPrepaid Card Fraud Losses

(image from, click to visit)

How much of this fraud was due to the CryptoLocker and PoliceLock Ransomware? We can't be sure, but this is a PROFOUND shift in fraud loss behavior and a great deal of it is certain to be based on those two malware campaigns. We blogged about CryptoLocker using Greendot late in the year in our story Tracking CryptoLocker with Malcovery and IID, but the FBI's Donna Gregory reported on the malware as far back as this August 2012 FBI Ransomware Story where she said "We’re getting inundated with complaints!" referring to the complaints coming in to the FBI's complaint form, which is one source of Consumer Sentinel Data.

2013 - Top Cities for Identity Theft

Last year, 16 of the top 25 Identity Theft Metropolitan area were in Florida. This year it has fallen to 13.

13 of top 25 in Florida (16 in 2012)
4 of top 25 in California (0 in 2012)
3 of top 25 in Georgia (6 in 2012)
1 each in Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Tenessee, and West Virginia

RankMetro/Micropolitan AreaPer 100,000
1Miami-FortLauderdale-WestPalmBeach, FL340.4
2Columbus, GA-AL214.7
3Naples-Immokalee-MarcoIsland, FL214
4Jonesboro, AR190.9
5Tallahassee, FL179.4
6CapeCoral-FortMyers, FL174.9
7Atlanta-SandySprings-Roswell, GA170.7
8PortSt.Lucie, FL163.9
9Beckley, WV160.9
10Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, FL155.5
11Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL149.6
12Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI142.9
13Lakeland-WinterHaven, FL140.2
14Stockton-Lodi, CA133.1
15Montgomery, AL132.2
16Vallejo-Fairfield, CA128.2
17Jacksonville, FL125.7
18Memphis, TN-MS-AR125.5
19Valdosta, GA125.4
20Ocala, FL125
21Gainesville, FL122.6
22Sebastian-VeroBeach, FL122.4
23LosAngeles-LongBeach-Anaheim, CA119.1
24Deltona-DaytonaBeach-OrmondBeach, FL118.9
25Fresno, CA118.2
26Albany, GA117.6
27SanFrancisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA116.8
28NorthPort-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL116.6
29Bakersfield, CA116.5
30Macon, GA116.2
31Riverside-SanBernardino-Ontario, CA115.2
32Savannah, GA115.1
33PuntaGorda, FL115
34Dallas-FortWorth-Arlington, TX114.8
35Crestview-FortWaltonBeach-Destin, FL112.4
36PalmBay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL111.3
37Flint, MI109.7
38Lynchburg, VA108.1
39Jackson, MS107.4
40Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV106.3
41HomosassaSprings, FL105.5
42Niles-BentonHarbor, MI105.2
43Houston-TheWoodlands-SugarLand, TX104.7
44Fayetteville, NC102.9
45Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA101.3
46Modesto, CA101.1
47Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ101.1
48LasVegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV100.8
49Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI100.4
50Killeen-Temple, TX99.4
51Auburn-Opelika, AL98.4
52NewYork-Newark-JerseyCity, NY-NJ-PA97.7
53SanJose-Sunnyvale-SantaClara, CA96.4
54Reno, NV96.1
55Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD95.5
56Chico, CA95.5
57Napa, CA94.5
58Pueblo, CO94.3
59Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD93.4
60SanDiego-Carlsbad, CA93.4
61Milwaukee-Waukesha-WestAllis, WI92.8
62Madera, CA92.8
63RockyMount, NC92.5
64Laredo, TX92.3
65Beaumont-PortArthur, TX92
66Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO92
67Cleveland-Elyria, OH91.7
68SantaCruz-Watsonville, CA89.6
69Brownsville-Harlingen, TX89.4
70Goldsboro, NC88.9
71Mobile, AL88.6
72Merced, CA88.4
73SantaMaria-SantaBarbara, CA88.2
74AnnArbor, MI88.2
75Tucson, AZ87.9
76Augusta-RichmondCounty, GA-SC87.8
77AtlanticCity-Hammonton, NJ87.4
78Redding, CA86.9
79Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC86.6
80Athens-ClarkeCounty, GA86.2
81McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX85.6
82CorpusChristi, TX85.5
83BatonRouge, LA85.4
84SierraVista-Douglas, AZ85.3
85Austin-RoundRock, TX85.2
86Florence, SC85.1
87Albuquerque, NM85
88Boulder, CO84.9
89Pensacola-FerryPass-Brent, FL84.9
90ColoradoSprings, CO84
91California-LexingtonPark, MD83.7
92Dalton, GA83.7
93Hattiesburg, MS83.3
94SanAntonio-NewBraunfels, TX83.2
95WarnerRobins, GA83
96Oxnard-ThousandOaks-Ventura, CA82.8
97Trenton, NJ82.7
98Houma-Thibodaux, LA82.6
99Dover, DE82.6
100St.Louis, MO-IL82.1

Alabama Identity Theft: 2012 compared to 2013

Forgive me, dear reader, for focusing on my own state just this once . . .

In 2012, Alabama's top cities for Identity Theft, and their Per Capita complaints received, were:

#15 - Columbus, GA/AL (205.9 per 100,000)
#16 - Montgomery, AL (203.7 per 100,000)
#42 - Auburn-Opelika, AL (124.1 per 100,000)
#62 - Birmingham-Hoover, AL (111 per 100,000)
#91 - Enterprise-Ozark, AL (97.8 per 100,000)
#97 - Huntsville, AL (95.5 per 100,000)
#100 - Mobile, AL (93.5 per 100,000)
#118 - Anniston-Oxford, AL (90.2 per 100,000)
#125 - Tuscaloosa, AL (88.4 per 100,000)
#132 - Dothan, AL (87.2 per 100,000)
#145 - Gadsden, AL (84.3 per 100,000)
#195 - Decatur, AL (72.8 per 100,000)
#198 - Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL (72.4 per 100,000)
#303 - Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL (56.4 per 100,000)

How does that compare to 2013's numbers?

The Columbus, Georgia/Alabama Metro area rose 13 places in the national rank to be the second worst city in America for Identity Theft.
Montgomery, Alabama had a very slight rise in rank (from #16 to #15), although the number of complaints per capita fell, it is still one of the worst cities in America for Identity Theft.
Mobile, Alabama rose in rank by 29 places, moving from #100 to #71.

All other cities in Alabama FELL in their national rank for Identity Theft -- but one must ask, as above, is that because crime is declining? or is apathy increasing? Have we become so desensitized to Identity Theft that we no longer feel the need to complain?

#2 +13 - Columbus, GA-AL (214.7 per 100,000) = +8.8 per 100,000
#15 +1 - Montgomery, AL (132.2) = -71.5 per 100,000
#51 -9 - Auburn-Opelika, AL (98.4) = -25.7 per 100,000
#71 +29 - Mobile, AL (88.6) = -4.9. per 100,000
#117 -55 - Birmingham-Hoover, AL (77.7) = -33.3 per 100,000
#131 +1 - Dothan, AL (74.8) = -12.4 per 100,000
#152 -55 - Huntsville, AL (68.5) = -27 per 100,000
#167 -42! - Tuscaloosa, AL (65.2) = -23.2 per 100,000
#226 -81! - Gadsden, AL (57.5)
#234 -116! - Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL(56.5)
#268 -70! - Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL (52.1)
#316 -121! - Decatur, AL (44.2)
#357 -54! - Florence-MuscleShoals, AL (36.7) -

Do YOU Know How to File an Identity Theft, Fraud, or Phishing Complaint?

If someone scammed you out of your money or stole your identity, that is a CRIME! What should you do? CALL THE POLICE!

But there are some other guidelines as well.

The Federal Trade Commission has two web pages that help you understand what to do if you have been the victim of identity theft:

FTC: What to do if you have been a victim of Identity Theft
FTC: How to file an Identity Theft Complaint with the FTC

FTC: March 2-8 is National Consumer Protection Week - tips and videos you can share with your friends are on this site!

You STILL want to call your local Police to let them know about the crimes against you. If someone stole YOUR identity or scammed you, they are likely targeting others as well! Besides your local law enforcement, it would be helpful if you could take the time to share what happened to you with the FBI Internet Crime & Complaint Center ( This unique center in West Virginia gathers hundreds of thousands of cybercrime complaints per year into a database that can be accessed by law enforcement across the country. Perhaps you will only be another drop in the bucket, but you MAY provide the missing link that ties many smaller losses together into a major investigation!

For PHISHING EMAILS, be sure to report that phish to Malcovery's PhishIQ system! By sending us the address of that suspicious or fake bank website, our automated systems will preserve forensic evidence about the phishing website and work on linking it to other websites that may have been created by the same criminal!

Appendix: The rest of the list (Top Identity Theft Cities by Rank)

101NewOrleans-Metairie, LA82
102Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC81.7
103Prescott, AZ81.5
104SantaFe, NM81.2
105Tyler, TX80.6
106VirginiaBeach-Norfolk-NewportNews, VA-NC80.4
107Monroe, MI80.3
108LittleRock-NorthLittleRock-Conway, AR80.2
109Gainesville, GA80.1
110Hammond, LA80.1
111Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT80.1
112LakeHavasuCity-Kingman, AZ78.9
113Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA78.4
114OklahomaCity, OK77.9
115Columbia, SC77.8
116Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ77.8
117Birmingham-Hoover, AL77.7
118ElPaso, TX77.4
119Muskegon, MI77.2
120NewHaven-Milford, CT77.2
121Midland, TX76.9
122Burlington, NC76.8
123Spokane-SpokaneValley, WA76.7
124Odessa, TX76.6
125HiltonHeadIsland-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC75.9
126Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN75.3
127Yakima, WA75.2
128Concord, NH75.1
129SanLuisObispo-PasoRobles-ArroyoGrande, CA74.9
130Reading, PA74.9
131Dothan, AL74.8
132Brunswick, GA74.8
133Lumberton, NC74.5
134Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ74.3
135Wichita, KS74.2
136Charleston-NorthCharleston, SC73.7
137Richmond, VA73.1
138Akron, OH72.4
139KansasCity, MO-KS71.9
140Racine, WI71.6
141Rockford, IL71.5
142Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA71.5
143SantaRosa, CA70.9
144Topeka, KS70.6
145Dayton, OH70.4
146Spartanburg, SC69.9
147Salinas, CA69.9
148Shreveport-BossierCity, LA69.8
149Show Low, AZ69.8
150YubaCity, CA69.5
151PanamaCity, FL68.8
152Huntsville, AL68.5
153FortCollins, CO68.4
154Raleigh, NC68.4
155Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA68.1
156Durham-ChapelHill, NC67.8
157Charleston, WV67.4
158Greeley, CO66.8
159Medford, OR66.4
160Yuma, AZ66.4
161Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS66.4
162Wilmington, NC66.3
163Springfield, MA65.8
164Columbus, OH65.7
165NewBern, NC65.5
166Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH65.4
167Tuscaloosa, AL65.2
168Flagstaff, AZ64.7
169Lawton, OK64.5
170Saginaw, MI64.4
171Hartford-WestHartford-EastHartford, CT64.4
172Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI64.2
173Wausau, WI64.1
174Duluth, MN-WI64
175Amarillo, TX63.9
176Olympia-Tumwater, WA63.8
177Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA63.8
178Asheville, NC63.8
179Toledo, OH63.8
180Bremerton-Silverdale, WA63.7
181Kankakee, IL63.5
182Chattanooga, TN-GA63.4
183Madison, WI63.4
184Bend-Redmond, OR63.4
185Greensboro-HighPoint, NC63.1
186Greenville, NC63
187Rochester, NY62.7
188MyrtleBeach-Conway-NorthMyrtleBeach, SC-NC62.6
189Pittsfield, MA62.5
190BattleCreek, MI62.4
191Visalia-Porterville, CA62.4
192EastStroudsburg, PA62.4
193Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA62.3
194Winston-Salem, NC62.3
195Sherman-Denison, TX62
196Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN61.9
197ElCentro, CA61.9
198Jacksonville, NC61.9
199Alexandria, LA61.7
200FortWayne, IN61.3
201Kalamazoo-Portage, MI61.2
202SouthBend-Mishawaka, IN-MI61.1
203Tulsa, OK60.8
204Sumter, SC60.5
205LasCruces, NM60.2
206Ashtabula, OH60.1
207York-Hanover, PA60
208Albany, OR60
209Champaign-Urbana, IL59.9
210Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN59.6
211BoiseCity, ID59.5
212Missoula, MT59.5
213Wooster, OH59.4
214Dunn, NC59.3
215Salisbury, MD-DE59.1
216Omaha-CouncilBluffs, NE-IA59.1
217Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna, CA58.7
218Elizabethtown-FortKnox, KY58.6
219Anchorage, AK58.3
220Elkhart-Goshen, IN58.2
221Jackson, MI58
222Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV58
223Pittsburgh, PA58
224PineBluff, AR57.9
225Providence-Warwick, RI-MA57.8
226Gadsden, AL57.5
227Lafayette, LA57.4
228IowaCity, IA57
229BarnstableTown, MA57
230Waco, TX57
231Springfield, MO56.8
232Springfield, IL56.6
233Worcester, MA-CT56.6
234Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL56.5
235Kingston, NY56.4
236CollegeStation-Bryan, TX56.4
237Lubbock, TX56.4
238Hanford-Corcoran, CA56.2
239Cleveland, TN56.1
240Monroe, LA56.1
241Longview, TX56
242SaltLakeCity, UT55.9
243Canton-Massillon, OH55.9
244Louisville/JeffersonCounty, KY-IN55.8
245Lexington-Fayette, KY55.5
246Lima, OH55.5
247Lansing-EastLansing, MI55.4
248Peoria, IL55.1
249Decatur, IL55.1
250Erie, PA54.9
251Clarksville, TN-KY54.9
252GrandRapids-Wyoming, MI54.8
253Bloomington, IL54.8
254Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH54.6
255Kennewick-Richland, WA54.5
256Roanoke, VA54.1
257Buffalo-Cheektowaga-NiagaraFalls, NY54.1
258DesMoines-WestDesMoines, IA54.1
259Lebanon, PA53.9
260Williamsport, PA53.4
261Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA53.3
262Bellingham, WA53.2
263FortSmith, AR-OK53.1
264Norwich-NewLondon, CT52.9
265Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY52.8
266Morristown, TN52.7
267Winchester, VA-WV52.2
268Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL52.1
269BayCity, MI52
270Longview, WA51.8
271Salem, OR51.4
272Lawrence, KS51.4
273Meridian, MS51.2
274St.Joseph, MO-KS51
275Texarkana, TX-AR50.9
276WichitaFalls, TX50.9
277London, KY50.6
278Ogden-Clearfield, UT50.1
279Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC50.1
280Billings, MT49.7
281Lincoln, NE49.6
282Manchester-Nashua, NH49.4
283Coeurd'Alene, ID49.1
284Charlottesville, VA48.9
285MountVernon-Anacortes, WA48.8
286JeffersonCity, MO48.7
287Jackson, TN48.5
288MichiganCity-LaPorte, IN48.4
289Syracuse, NY48.3
290Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA48.1
291Cookeville, TNMicropolitan48.1
292Lafayette-WestLafayette, IN48.1
293Janesville-Beloit, WI48
294Logan, UT-ID47.8
295Evansville, IN-KY47.8
296Bluefield, WV-VA47.5
297Knoxville, TN47.3
298Whitewater-Elkhorn, WI47
299Rochester, MN46.9
300Torrington, CT46.9
301Sheboygan, WI46.8
302Claremont-Lebanon, NH-VT46.7
303Davenport-Moline-RockIsland, IA-IL46.6
304LakeCharles, LA46.6
305Lancaster, PA46.6
306Pottsville, PAMicropolitan46.5
307JohnsonCity, TN46.3
308Danville, VA46
309Carbondale-Marion, IL45.8
310Tupelo, MS45.5
311Springfield, OH44.8
312Provo-Orem, UT44.8
313Roseburg, OR44.6
314Joplin, MO44.4
315Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO44.3
316Decatur, AL44.2
317Abilene, TX44.2
318Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH44.1
319Morgantown, WV43.9
320SiouxCity, IA-NE-SD43.9
321Johnstown, PA43.8
322CedarRapids, IA43.8
323Eugene, OR43.8
324GrandJunction, CO43.6
325Salem, OH43.6
326Mansfield, OH43.4
327Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA43.2
328Jamestown-Dunkirk-Fredonia, NY43
329Portland-SouthPortland, ME42.8
330IdahoFalls, ID42.8
331Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI42.6
332Cumberland, MD-WV42.6
333FondduLac, WI42.3
334Wheeling, WV-OH41.9
335GlensFalls, NY41.9
336Wenatchee, WA41.5
337Gettysburg, PA41.4
338TraverseCity, MI41.2
339LaCrosse-Onalaska, WI-MN41.1
340SiouxFalls, SD40.7
341Columbia, MO40.6
342Watertown-FortDrum, NY40.4
343SanAngelo, TX40.2
344RapidCity, SD40.1
345Owensboro, KY40.1
346St.George, UT39.1
347Binghamton, NY38.9
348Tullahoma-Manchester, TN38.9
349Bloomington, IN38.9
350GreenBay, WI38.9
351TerreHaute, IN38.9
352UrbanHonolulu, HI38.8
353Utica-Rome, NY38.7
354Ithaca, NY38.4
355Muncie, IN38.2
356Burlington-SouthBurlington, VT37.9
357Florence-MuscleShoals, AL36.7
358EauClaire, WI36.6
359Ottawa-Peru, IL36.2
360BowlingGreen, KY35.9
361Holland, MI35.9
362Appleton, WI35.9
363Hilo, HI35.7
364Lewiston-Auburn, ME34.4
365Oshkosh-Neenah, WI33.5
366Staunton-Waynesboro, VA32.9
367Waterloo-CedarFalls, IA32.8
368Ogdensburg-Massena, NY32.2
369Fargo, ND-MN32.1
370St.Cloud, MN31.7
371Bangor, ME31.2
372Farmington, NM30.8
373Altoona, PA30.7
374Harrisonburg, VA29.5
375StateCollege, PA29.2
376Augusta-Waterville, ME28.7
377Bismarck, ND27.9

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:29 AM

    Florida is the scammers' top target...unfortunately because of all the senior citizens there.


Trying a new setting. After turning on comments, I got about 20-30 comments per day that were all link spam. Sorry to require login, but the spam was too much.