In 2017 over 16.7 million Americans were victims of identity theft. We expect this to be a growing phenomenon and for this number to grow in the foreseeable future. Even though several companies have developed products to combat this problem and law enforcement officials have dedicated more resources to prosecute it, it remains very difficult to stay on top of this moving target.
A prime example of the complexity of keeping sensitive data secure is the Equifax data breach. Equifax reported that in 2017 a data security breach exposed the sensitive personal information of 143 million people to fraud. If a company that’s entire business model is predicated on personal data security can be breached, how can the rest of us stay safe?
Thieves tend to identify easy areas of opportunity and will focus first on the easiest pickings. Not surprisingly, there is a large disparity in incidences of identity theft across the country. A recent study conducted by ASecureLife highlights the top ten states for identity fraud. They used the following criteria:
- The number of complaints per capita
- The average amount an individual can lose due to online identity theft
- The average amounts an individual can lose due to fraud
- The number of persons arrested for fraud per capita
- The availability of security-freeze law for minors’ credit reports
- The availability of an identity-theft passport program
- Compliance with the REAL ID Act
This study tried to find how many people are victims of identity theft in each state, but also how specific states are working to protect the public.
Here are the ten states with the highest identity fraud in the USA:
There were 199 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents. Back in 2017, there were 8,300 cases, accounting for almost 16% of all the consumers’ complaints in Arizona. In most cases, the elderly were victimized by imposters, via phone, claiming to be from various government agencies, including the IRS.
There were 120 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents. Last year 12,500 reports were registered accounting for almost 12% of all the complaints coming from consumers. The Equifax hack was the main cause of the reports in Georgia, as consumers were left vulnerable and ended up with frozen credit reports, as a measure of protection.
There were 123 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K resident. In 2017, there were 1,300 reports of ID thefts, accounting for around 18% of all complaint reports. Rhode Island officials began a campaign to educate consumers to review their bank and credit card statements every month thoroughly.
There were 124 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents. The state acknowledged that it was the top category of consumer complaints and that it represented 19% of all complaints filed in 2017.
There were 126 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents, representing 14% of all consumer complaints in this state. To highlight the steps that criminals go to steal, a psychiatrist stole the personal information of 11 patients, 4 being kids, in an attempt to file $100,000 worth of insurance claims.
There were 128 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents. With a total of 3,800 cases in 2017, accounting for almost 14% of all the consumers’ complaints.
There were 129 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents. Maryland was among the top states on this negative list in 2017, as a total of 7,800 cases of identity theft were reported last year, totaling 16% of all the consumer complaints.
There were 140 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents. California counted more than 55,400 reports of ID theft, totaling 20% of all complaints. The high levels of identity theft in the state may be attributed to their large number of illegal immigrants needed documentation to obtain employment.
There were 149 reports of identity theft in the state, as per 100K residents. Almost 31,200 cases were reported last year in the Sunshine State, amounting to 13% of all complaints. Most of them were credit card scams, as some suspects managed to get their hands on more than 2,500 credit card account numbers.
Michigan is the state where you’re the most prone to have your identity stolen, as there were 149 reports per 100K residents. To be more specific, we’re talking about more than 15,00 reports, representing 17% of all complaints. Michigan was also the state where a new form of ID theft – smishing, consisting of text messages claiming that they’re from your bank – was initiated.
Keep in mind that you are not safe from fraud even if your state is not among the top ten. The Equifax breach impacted all 50 states. Make sure that you take the appropriate steps to ensure that you are corresponding with your vendors. If you receive an email, a text or a call that you were not expecting, verify before you provide any personal information.