ANALYSIS OF THE 2015 FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (FTC) COMPLAINTS REPORT

BY: MARK AND CAROL FAIRALL – ELDER JUSTICE ADVOCATES – SUN CITY WEST RESIDENTS
APRIL 22, 2016

Research shows seniors lose $36.5 billion every year due to financial abuse (scams, counterfeit drugs, and insurance fraud). Over 3 million complaints were filed last year with the FTC and over 1.2 million (40%) were fraud related. Over $765 million was reported lost to fraud. The FTC reported a 17% increase of filed complaints in 2015.

The worst states for FTC fraud are:
1. Florida
2. Georgia
3. Michigan
4. Texas
5. Nevada
6. Delaware
7. Rhode Island
8. California
9. Maryland
10. Alabama

The report found Arizona had 42,575 FTC complaints in 2015. Arizona ranked the 16th worse state for FTC fraud complaints. The number one problem reported to the FTC in Arizona for 2015 was fraud complaints concerning: DEBT COLLECTION (24% of the total with 10,211 complaints). Seniors 60-years old and older filed the most complaints at 37% of any other age group.

FTC REPORT: https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-january-december-2015/160229csn-2015databook.pdf

NUMBER ONE FTC COMPLAINTS BY ARIZONANS – DEBT COLLECTION – 10,211 FTC COMPLAINTS

Debt Collection is big business in Arizona. Debt collection can be for credit card debt, lending institution loan debt, personal debt, and rent debt. Collection companies buy “Junk Debt” for pennies on the dollar and hammer the borrower. For example, a $5,000 credit card debt is bought for $250 by a Junk Debt Collector. They are able to harass and sue the borrower in order to collect the entire $5,000, great return of 2,000%.

Debt collection lawyers is big business in Arizona and they often fail to follow the law. A debt collection lawyer is supposed to notify you and confirm the debt is owed and allow you 30-days to respond. This is federal law in the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) but it is rarely followed. There is a penalty of $1,000 fine imposed against the illegal activity of debt collectors on each violation. Some FDCPA violations are: contacting neighbors about your debt, threatening you, and improperly filing liens on your home. You need to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) if your FDCPA rights have been violated.

Arizona has no real protection laws for renters. That is very sad because Arizona now has more people renting than owning homes.

NUMBER TWO FTC COMPLAINTS BY ARIZONANS – IDENTITY THEFT – 9,136 FTC COMPLAINTS

The worst states for Identity Theft are:
1. Missouri
2. Connecticut
3. Florida
4. Maryland
5. Illinois
Arizona ranked number 14.

The 2015 FTC report documented that reported Identity Theft increased nearly 50% (410,128 FTC complaints). Most people (10.8%) did not know how the criminal got their identity theft information. The two other big areas of Identity theft information were from data breaches (3%) and internet/email (1.2%).

Less than half of identity theft problems (180,753) were reported to the police. The police failed to take an identity theft report on 11% of the crimes.

PRESCOTT PLACES IN THE TOP FIVE BIG CITIES FOR HAVING THE MOST FTC COMPLAINTS

The 2015 FTC report listed the worst cities for complaints, they are:
1. Homosassa Springs, FL
2. Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH
3. Gainesville, FL
4. Prescott, AZ
5. Dover, DE

Prescott is reported to have had 1,306 FTC complaints in 2015. That is a lot for a city with a population of only 40,000. The reason is the fact that Prescott is the fastest growing city in Arizona. This is the result of receiving press that it is a desirable retirement destination. Also, it is the result of being recommended as the national destination for addiction recovery. Narcotic officers estimate 500 heroin addicts move to Prescott every month.

Prescott has become the “HOTBED” for Heroin and related crimes to support the habit. Fraud, store robberies, drug arrests, over-dose deaths, home burglaries, and all crimes are increasing at an alarming rate in Prescott. It is so bad that property values are dropping as rehab places are increasing.

Sadly, experts estimate 90% of the heroin addicts relapse and many end up homeless on the Prescott streets. Organized crime is moving to Prescott to support the $200-a-day heroin addicts drug costs. Organized Crime is bringing Ponzi schemes and increased consumer frauds. These increased Prescott criminal activities are causing more FTC complaints to be filed.

Information Sources:
1. “In Prescott ‘everybody’s hometown’ grapples with heroin addiction” – CRONKITE NEWS – 01/11/2015
2. “Prescott Grappling with Costs of Becoming National Destination for Addiction Recovery” – KJZZ NEWS – 04/16/2016

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