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Over three million consumer complaints filed in 2015

Created date

May 10th, 2016
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Can you guess the number one consumer complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2015? For the first time, debt collection complaints surged to the top of the list, thanks, in part, to a surge in unwanted debt collection calls placed to mobile phones. 

Identity theft, which has held the number one spot for the past 15 years, fell to number two. However, the overall number of identity theft complaints rose by more than 47% from 2014.

The FTC registers consumer complaints through the Consumer Sentinel Network. The data collected by the network includes consumer complaints made directly to the FTC. It also includes complaints received by state and federal law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations, and nongovernmental organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

In 2015, the network collected 3,083,379 total consumer complaints. Clearly, Americans are fed up with scammers and are filing complaints in unprecedented numbers.    

“We recognize that identity theft and unlawful debt collection practices continue to cause significant harm to many consumers,” says Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Steps like the recent upgrade to IdentityTheft.gov and our leadership of a nationwide initiative to combat unlawful debt collection practices are critical to our ongoing work to protect consumers from these harms.”

In January of 2016, the FTC redesigned the IdentityTheft.gov website. This updated version gives consumers the tools to create a personalized identity theft recovery plan. 

To combat the rampant debt collection issue, the agency coordinated the first federal-state-local initiative, called Operation Collection Protection, to combat the problem. The initiative led 70 partners to bring more than 130 actions. In 2015, the FTC also directly filed 12 actions against 52 defendants for illegal debt collection practices. They also permanently banned 30 companies and individuals from the industry and obtained nearly $94 million in judgments against debt collectors.

Complaints from consumers help the FTC detect patterns of fraud and abuse. The FTC cannot resolve individual complaints, but they can provide information about what next steps to take. The FTC would like to know about your complaint, and its online Complaint Assistant will help guide you
(ftccomplaintassistant.gov). You can also call them at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

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