Consumer Fraud- New York Epoch times
By Jonah Owen Lamb
Identity theft was the most prevalent form of consumer fraud nationally for the sixth year in a row, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Over 686,683 identity theft complaints were received last year, an increase of 51,510 from the previous year. In New York State alone 45 percent of all consumer complaints were for identity theft.
“We see a lot of hard core fraud by fly-by-night companies,” said Thomas Cohn, senior assistant regional director of the FTA.
In a morning press conference on Feb. 8th at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Manhattan, the FTA gathered with fraud victims and five public and private consumer groups to announce the top consumer fraud issues from 2005. Construction, credit card and debt collection fraud topped the list after identity theft, according to the six groups gathered.
“Physiologically I was raped, I was victimized,” said Alexia Dunay, a fraud victim at the press conference.
Six weeks after Dunay, a 55-year-old with curly red hair, got out of the hospital for a broken wrist she started receiving credit cards bills. She hadn’t signed up for any of them. The Gap, Victoria’s Secret and nine other companies chalked up over $10,000 in her name. After Dunay’s “break down” from the shock subsided she filed a police report, called the credit card companies and notified state and federal consumer protection agencies.
“It took me a year and a half to sort everything out,” said Dunay.
While Dunay never found out who stole her identity, she did sort out all the credit card fees and finally cleared her name, but she was scarred from the experience and rarely uses credit cards now, she says.
The press conference showcased the joint efforts of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the State Consumer Protection Board, the state attorney general’s office as well as AARP and the Better Business Bureau.
Each group listed different kinds of fraud as their most prevalent. Home improvement contractor fraud toped the list for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs with 1,000 complaints filed last year. The attorney general’s office top complaint was internet fraud with 7,723 complaints, and the BBB’s list was toped by 2,940 complaints related to consumer electronics.