FTC: Tennessee Has 10th Highest Rate Per Capita in U.S. for Fraud & Other Reports

Consumer Affairs Urges Tennesseans to Take Precautions and Report Fraud
Monday, March 12, 2018 | 11:14am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs reminds Tennesseans to remain diligent when it comes to reporting fraud and other scams.  A newly released report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows Tennessee now has the 10th highest rate per capita in the U.S. for reports of fraud as well as other complaints. The cost of fraud was steep: Tennessee’s total consumer losses topped $13.7 million last year.

According to the report, the top three complaint areas for Tennesseans are debt collection, imposter scams and identity theft. When it comes to reports of identity theft, Tennessee now ranks 24th in the country. The top three forms of Identity theft in Tennessee are credit card fraud, employment or tax-related fraud, and bank fraud.

“The FTC’s report shines a light on the hurtful impact of scam artists on hard-working Tennessee consumers,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “We hope Tennesseans will use the findings in this report as an opportunity to renew their efforts to protect their families from fraud. If consumers believe they have been the victim of fraud, they should contact local law enforcement agencies and report the incident. Additionally, they can file a complaint through the Division of Consumer Affairs.”    

The FTC’s report was compiled from complaints to the FTC’s call center or online as well as complaints filed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and other organizations. Other Tennessee-related details from the report include:

  • Memphis is listed at No. 18 and Chattanooga at No. 37 on the FTC’s top 50 metropolitan areas for fraud reports;
  • Memphis is 14th for top 15 metro areas for fraud reports in the southeast region;
  • Memphis is No. 3 in the southwest region for fraud reports.

With complaints about debt collectors as Tennesseans’ top complaint area, the Division of Consumer Affairs and the state Collections Board reminds Tennesseans to be wary of unscrupulous and illegal practices of debt collection agencies.

Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse consumers or any third parties they contact. For example, debt collectors may not:

  • Use threats of violence or harm.
  • Publish a list of names of people who refuse to pay their debts (but they can give this information to the credit reporting companies).
  • Use obscene or profane language.
  • Repeatedly use phone communication to annoy you.
  • Contact you at inconvenient or unusual time periods (Between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. is considered acceptable).
  • Contact you at work if the collector knows, or has reason to know, the employer prohibits such communication.
  • Contact you after you provided a notice in writing that you wish the communication to cease.
  • Debt collectors may not lie when they are trying to collect a debt. For example, they may not:
    • Falsely claim that they are attorneys or government representatives;
    • Falsely claim that you have committed a crime;
    • Falsely represent that they operate or work for a credit reporting company;
    • Misrepresent the amount you owe.

To check the status of a collection agency’s license, visit verify.tn.gov or file a complaint related to a licensee here.

About the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance: TDCI protects the interests of consumers while providing fair, efficient oversight and a level field of competition for a broad array of industries and professionals doing business in Tennessee. Our divisions include the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Insurance, Securities, Consumer Affairs, Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, Regulatory Boards, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, Tennessee Corrections Institute, and TennCare Oversight.

To check a license of a professional regulated by the Department, go to https://verify.tn.gov/.