On the heels of a new report showing Michigan ranks 6th in the nation in the number of reported identity theft complaints, the AARP Fraud Watch Network offers tips so people can learn how to protect themselves from the top ten scams reported by Michiganders in 2014.
For the 15th consecutive year, identity theft was the top complaint in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, accounting for 13 percent of the total 2.5 million filed complaints. Identity theft complaints in Michigan totaled 10,338, or 104 per 100,000 population. Scams involving debt collection and telephone and mobile services were even more prevalent in Michigan.
Nationally, people in their 40s and 50s filed the most complaints – 19 percent – while 18 percent of complaints were made by those in both their 20s and 30s. People age 60 and older filed 13 percent of complaints and people age 70 and older only filed 7 percent of complaints.
Social Security, Medicare and other government benefits fraud accounted for more than one in three reports of identity theft, followed by fraudulent use of credit cards (17 percent) and phone or utilities fraud (13 percent). Stealing money from bank accounts accounted for 8 percent of complaints.
“Every 2 seconds someone’s identity is stolen and a con artist takes over their life,” said Thomas Kimble, State President of AARP Michigan. “The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a go-to resource for information about how people can safeguard their identity and learn to spot and avoid scams so they can outsmart con artists before they strike.”
The AARP Fraud Watch Network arms Michiganders, and all Americans, with the tools they need to spot and avoid scams. A free resource for people of all ages, the Fraud Watch Network offers real-time alerts about the latest scams in your state, a scam tracking map where people can report on scams so their friends and neighbors know what to watch out for, a guide to outsmarting con artists, and a helpline where Michigan residents can talk to a trained volunteer for advice if they or someone they love has been scammed.
The top scams for Michigan include:
- Debt collection [14,284]
- Telephone and mobile services [10,357]
- Identity theft [10,338]
- Imposter scams [5,538]
- Banks and lenders [3,566]
- Sweepstakes and lotteries [2,510]
- Auto-related complaints [1,637]
- Shop-at-home and catalog sales [1,612]
- TV and electronic media [1,547]
- Internet services [1,056]
The agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book is based on consumer complaints filed with the FTC, and is available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies across the country and abroad to help identify fraud trends, research cases, identify victims and track possible targets. It does not include “Do Not Call” complaints.