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New York Ranks Seventh in Nation for Identity Theft Complaints

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Federal Trade Commission ranks New York State in the top ten when it comes to complaints of identify theft.

New York ranks 7th in the nation when it comes to identity theft complaints. The state unveiled a top ten consumer frauds and complaints list Wednesday. At the top of the list is identity theft. Close to 18,000 New Yorkers reported that they were victims of ID theft last year.

Many times senior citizens are easy targets. Regional AARP Coordinator Bill Hall can vouch for that. He has a consumer complaint of his own. Hall says he ended up paying a $200 restocking fee for a cell phone that didn't work in his home. Hall says he was not careful before he signed the deal.

"Read the fine print over and over, even if you have to hire a lawyer to advise you on it. There are a lot of technicalities in there," Hall said. "For instance, for me, there was a 72-hour time period in which I was to return the phone if I was displeased with the service. However, I found that the contract started August 7th, and I signed it August 17th, so I had already missed the 72-hour time."

The regional director of the the Federal Trade Commission says it is crucial that consumers safeguard personal information, including social security number, bank accounts, insurance policies and cell phones. Barbara Anthony says don't carry more than one credit card. And she says don't quickly fill out forms that ask you for credit card information.

"Be a little leery about it, be skeptical about it," Anthony said. "Red flags should go off when someone's asking you for information and you don't understand why you're giving it. You don't understand why they need it. Probably your common sense is kicking in, and it's telling you that things aren't right with this transaction."

Anthony says consumers planning to make a buy over the Internet, from a company they've never purchased from, might want to do a little research and ask around first before giving out personal information.