The rate of identity theft crime is rising around the country, but some states are affected more than others. It is beneficial to know where the state in which you live stands in regards to identity theft crimes. The Federal Trade Commission latest data illustrating which states had the most risk for identity theft, and which had the least, was released in February 2015 using information from the previous year. The state with the largest number of complaints was Florida, with a total of 37,059 complaints, which is 186.3 per 100,000 people. Washington, Oregon, Missouri, Georgia, Michigan, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Maryland round out the top 10. The state with the least number of complaints was South Dakota, with 310 complains, which is 36.3 per 100,000 people.
What Factors Affect the Risk in the State?
Florida is the state that has the most complaints for identity theft, which seems to mean that it is the state most affected by this type of crime. One reason that this may be the case is the relatively high senior population in the state. The elderly are one of the most at risk for identity theft and similar fraud. With such a high number living in Florida (18.6 percent of Florida residents are over 65 years old, which is the highest percentage in the country), it would make sense it is at the top of the list. Many of the complaints in Florida (over 52 percent) involving fraud are related to benefits or government documents, which may also be associated with its high number of older residents who are on social security.
Washington state ranked number two, but it had a much higher percentage of identity theft cases in relation to overall fraud complaints. ID theft doubled in Washington from 2013 to 2014, and 30 percent of all fraud cases involved some type of identity theft. Compared to the national percentage of 13 percent, this is quite high. One reason for the increase could be contributed to a publicized data breach by Albertsons stores in Washington. This often affects the number of complaints. A similar experience could be why Oregon made the list at number 3. The Oregon Employment Department announced they had a data breach, and although they believe the data was not misused, it most likely led to a significant increase in the number of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, according to USA Today.
How to Use This Information to Protect Yourself
There are numerous factors that create your own personal risk for falling victim to identity theft, including where you live, the security measures you have in place, where you do business, and the amount of precaution you take. The more knowledge you have of the types of identity theft crimes occurring in your state and/or metropolitan area could help you to know what steps are most important to take to protect yourself. Even if you live in South Dakota or one of the other states near the bottom of the list, it is important that you take at least a few precautions against this type of fraud. This includes shredding sensitive documents, protecting your mail, never releasing your social security number, using strong passwords, monitoring your credit report, and otherwise taking measures to protect your identity.
If you do feel as though you are high risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, then it may help to take extra measures by employing an identity theft protection company. This becomes more of a necessity if you believe a company or government agency with whom you do business or are employed by has been hacked, then it is imperative you take action to protect yourself from this every growing crime.