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Types of Fraud

Types of Fraud

The Executive Summary of the CSN Data Book 2016

  • The Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) contains more than 13 million complaints dating from calendar year 2012 through calendar year 2016. (In addition, the CSN contains over 20 million do-not-call complaints from this same time period. We report on do-not-call complaints after the end of each fiscal year. See the National Do Not Call Registry Data Book 2016.)
  • The CSN received over 3 million complaints (excluding do-not-call) during calendar year 2016: 42% fraud complaints; 13% identity theft complaints; and 45% other types of complaints.
  • Debt Collection was the number one complaint category in the CSN for calendar year 2016 with 28% of the overall complaints, followed by Impostor Scams (13%); Identity Theft (13%); Telephone and Mobile Services (10%); Banks and Lenders (5%); Prizes, Sweepstakes and Lotteries (5%); Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales (4%); Auto-Related Complaints (3%); and Credit Bureaus, Information Furnishers and Report Users (2%). The complete ranking of all 30 complaint categories is listed on page six of this report.
  • Impostor Scams moved to the number two complaint category in 2016 due to an increase in complaints about government impostors and a decrease in Identity Theft complaints.
  • For military consumers, Impostor Scams was the number one complaint category in the CSN, followed by Identity Theft at number two.


  • Almost 1.3 million complaints were fraud-related. Consumers reported paying over $744 million in those fraud complaints; the median amount paid was $450. Fifty-one percent of the consumers who reported a fraud-related complaint also reported an amount paid.
  • Fifty-five percent of all fraud-related complaints reported the method of initial contact. Of those complaints, 77% said the telephone and 8% said e-mail. Only 3% of those consumers reported mail as the initial point of contact.
  • Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other types of complaints, followed by Georgia and Michigan.

Identity Theft

  • Employment- or Tax-related fraud (34%) was the most common form of reported identity theft, followed by credit card fraud (33%), phone or utilities fraud (13%), and bank fraud (12%). Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were loan or lease fraud (7%) and government documents or benefits fraud (7%).
  • Twenty-seven percent of identity theft complainants reported they contacted law enforcement. Of those victims, 87% indicated a report was taken.
  • Michigan is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Florida and Delaware.
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