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ID theft boosts swelling ranks?of fraud victims.

Byline: From Register-Guard and news service reports

WASHINGTON - Americans reported 20 percent more cases of consumer fraud in 2007 than the year before, with nearly a third of complaints related to identity theft, the government said Wednesday.

Out of some 810,000 cases of consumer fraud reported, the Federal Trade Commission said there were more than 258,000 instances of identity theft, the top complaint for the eighth year in a row.

But most of the increase in complaints stemmed from other types of fraud, including shop-at-home and catalog sales, Internet services, and "foreign money offers."

The annual report is based on data collected by the FTC and 125 other organizations, including law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, and private groups such as the Better Business Bureau. The FTC said the increase in complaints this year comes "primarily (from) the Better Business Bureaus."

The report also ranked more than 380 metropolitan areas according to fraud complaints and identity theft reports per capita. Two metro areas in Oregon ranked in the top 10 for fraud complaint per capita: Albany-Lebanon was first in the nation, and Roseburg came in 10th. The Eugene-Springfield area ranked a distant 90th, while Bend was 88th and Portland was 152nd.

As for identity theft reports per capita, Albany-Lebanon just made the top 20, ranking 19th in the country. Roseburg ranked 109th; Portland-Vancouver ranked 233rd; Eugene-Springfield ranked 296nd; and Bend ranked 302nd.

Consumer frauds, not including identity theft, cost consumers approximately $1.24 billion, up slightly from $1.18 billion in 2006. The FTC did not estimate losses due to identity theft.

Identity theft, which involves the use of personal information such as credit card or Social Security numbers to commit fraud or other crimes, made up 32 percent of total complaints, the FTC said.

The slight increase in identity theft complaints contradicts the results of a nationwide survey released this week by Javelin Research, which found identity theft declined in 2007. Javelin estimates that 8.1 million Americans were victims of ID fraud in 2007, down from 8.4 million a year earlier and 10.1 million in 2003.

The total cost of ID fraud also dropped, the Javelin study found, to $45 billion from $51 billion a year earlier and $56 billion in 2003.

Among the FTC's identity theft complaints, credit card fraud was the most common, accounting for 23 percent of reports, followed by utilities fraud at 18 percent and employment fraud at 14 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Title Annotation:Wire Business; When it comes to complaints per capita, Oregon's Albany-Lebanon metro area is No.
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 14, 2008
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