Guess which state led the nation in consumer fraud complaints last year?

Florida claimed the top spot for the number of per-capita complaints compiled by the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC counted 208,443 complaints last year from Floridians who claimed $54.7 million in fraud losses.

The Sarasota-Manatee region ranked 15th among the state's metro areas, with 568 complaints that were compiled in the FTC's 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Charlotte County ranked ninth with 666 complaints.

Consumer complaints against debt collectors were by far the most common in Florida, accounting for 41 percent of the total.

Identity theft was next at 13 percent, followed by imposter scams at 9 percent, banks and lenders at 5 percent and credit bureaus-information users at 4 percent.

Florida ranked second in the U.S. for identity theft reports, with 31,167. Those types of frauds involved credit cards, banks, employment or tax-related issues and phone or utilities.

Nationwide, the FTC reported complaints from 2.68 million consumers last year, down from 2.98 million who submitted reports about fraud, identity theft and other types of consumer concerns in 2016.

However, those consumers reported losing a combined $905 million to fraud last year, $63 million more than in 2016.

“While we received fewer overall complaints in 2017, consumers reported losing more money to fraud than they did the year before," said Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This underscores the importance of the FTC’s work in educating consumers and cracking down on the scammers who try to take their money.”

Reports against debt collectors declined over the year, but they remained the top complaint category, accounting for about 23 percent of all problems. The high number of debt collection filings was due in part to reports submitted by a data contributor who collects complaints via a mobile app, the FTC said.

Identity theft was the second-biggest category, at 14 percent.

Imposter scams came in third, but consumers reported losing substantially more money — $328 million — to this fraud than any other. In an imposter scam, someone typically pretends to be a government official, tech support representative, a friend or loved one in trouble, to convince the target to give them money.

Victims of travel, vacation and timeshare fraud reported losing a median $1,710, the highest individual loss amount of all scams.

Chase on Longboat Key

Chase Bank has opened its first new branch on Longboat Key.

The office, a stand-alone in the Shoppes of Bay Isles center, employs eight people, including branch manager Michael Smith, a private client adviser, a home lending adviser and a business relationship manager. It opened several months ago, but the bank just got around to a formal ribbon cutting.

The branch incorporates Chase's latest design and state-of-the-art banking technology, including deposit-friendly ATMs that dispense cash in multiple denominations, and a new feature that allows customers to open a new checking or savings account with the click of a button, said bank spokesman Michael Fusco.

Chase now has 17 offices in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It plans to open a new one in May on Bee Ridge Road extension and another next year in Parrish, Fusco said.

Contact John Hielscher at 361-4875, fax to 361-4880 or email john.hielscher@heraldtribune.com.