FTC Annual Summary of Consumer Complaints

FTC Annual Summary of Consumer Complaints

Every year, the Federal Trade Commission releases their annual summary of consumer complaints. This is a report on the categories that received the highest number of complaints from consumers. For 2016, 3.1 million complaints were reported first to the Consumer Sentinel Network before the FTC sorted them into 30 separate categories.

FTC Annual Summary of Consumer Complaints

Top Complaints

The number one complaint in 2016 from consumers was debt collection. It received 859,090 total complaints throughout the year, which was 28% of all complaints. Impostor scams passed up identity theft for the first time as the second most common category of consumer complaints. Reaching a total of 406,578 complaints, it made up 13% of complaints. Identity theft also made up 13% of complaints, but instead had 399, 225 complaints.

Top 30

Top 30 Consumer Complaints of 2016 from the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book

The rise in impostor scams is said to be due to an increase in reports of government impostors. While impostor scams come in many forms, they all work the same way. A scammer pretends to be somebody trustworthy to get the consumer to send money. Impostor scams topped the list of military consumer complaints, which was followed by identity theft complaints.

Military complaints

Top 20 Military Consumer Complaints of 2016 from the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book


Twenty-nine percent of the consumers who complained of identity theft reported it as being used to commit tax fraud, while more than 32% of consumers reported it as being used for credit card fraud. The most common method of payment for those who lost money to fraud was by wire transfer. Fifty-eight percent of people lost money this way. Of those people, 77% said they were first contacted by phone. The FTC says to “be wary of any caller asking for a wire transfer.” Government agencies will never ask anyone to wire money and it’s illegal for telemarketers to ask you to pay by wire. If you do receive a call from a government agency, call them back on a number that you do know belongs to them. Do not call the number someone left you on  a voicemail or gave you over the phone.

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