The Federal Trade Commission today released its list of top consumer complaints received by the agency in 2011. For the 12th year in a row, identity theft complaints topped the list. Of more than 1.8 million complaints filed in 2011, 279,156 or 15 percent, were identity theft complaints. Nearly 25 percent of the identity theft complaints related to tax- or wage-related fraud.

The report breaks out complaint data on a state-by-state basis and also contains data about the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest per capita incidence of fraud and other complaints. In addition, the 50 metropolitan areas reporting the highest incidence of identity theft are noted.

The next nine complaint categories are:

Debt Collection Complaints

Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lotteries

Shop-at-Home and Catalog Sales

Banks and Lenders

Internet Services

Auto Related Complaints

Imposter Scams

Telephone and Mobile Services

Advance-Fee Loans and Credit Protection/Repair

All of these scams can be avoided when the consumer does their necessary homework and puts systems in place to protect themselves. Some scam can be avoided just by knowing they exist and not falling for them. Others may require some form of a protection service while others simply require a little legwork and research to know your options. Always do searches on companies you do business with, check licenses and IDs, get second opinions and if it seems to good to be true, then you know the story.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.Disclosures.

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