Trends in Online Fraud and Identity Theft

A new and fascinating FTC report shows some interesting trends in online fraud and identity theft. The following are total FTC complaints in those two main technology-related categories over the last three years:

2003 2004 2005
Online fraud 176,754 210,727 196,503
Identity theft 542,656 653,040 686,683

It is remarkable that despite significant increases in the numbers of people online, FTC complaints aren’t going through the roof. Matter of fact, while identity theft complaints rose 5% in 2005, online fraud complaints actually declined. I would have never imagined the latter to be the case, and I had it in my head that identity theft complaints were rising much faster as well.


  1. The FTC makes it hard to register complaints so I do not think their metrics are relevant.

  2. Why would you register a complaint with the FTC? They have no enforcement powers, and ID theft victims are already spending huge amounts of time and energy on other unresponsive parties.