Identity theft in the US is quite common. There were around 2 million cases of identity fraud in 2013, according to the FTC. The fraudulent activities related to identity theft amounted to $1.6 billion every year. The most common problems of identity theft include filing false government documents and applications for government benefits.
Everyone is a target of the identity thieves. But, if we look at the identity theft statistics, then we will find that the problem is quite common in some states as compared to others. Various reasons are responsible for identity theft in these states. Every state has some or the other factor which makes it more or less vulnerable to identity theft. Factors such as unemployment, a large population of elderly people, a high tourist ratio, etc. lead to identity thefts.
Florida stands at number one place for complaints related to identity theft. According to the FTC’s 2012 Consumer Sentinel Network report, there were 361.3 complaints per 100,000 people. The most common identity theft complaints included fraud related to government documents, credit cards, banks, etc.
High population density and a large number of elderly people living in Florida are the reasons for highest identity theft complaints in Florida. Being a tourist attraction place also makes Florida a high target of identity thieves.
A former US Marine Corp of Miami, Florida stole the identities of 40 fellow Marine Corps in Afghanistan in December 2012 for which he was imprisoned for 5 years.
Georgia ranks second in the list of US states with highest identity theft complaints. There were 193.9 complaints per 100,000 people in Georgia. The identity theft complaints by residents of Georgia included potential fraud from debt collectors, banks, and lenders.
A Georgia man was sentenced to federal prison in early 2013 due to his role in a credit card theft ring which used skimming devices for copying and storing of debit/credit card information from various stores and restaurants across the metro Atlanta area.
The next state after Georgia is California with 122.7 complaints per 100,000 people. Internet service scams and scams related to banks and debt collectors were the top complaints.
According to an identity theft report by the California Public Interest Research Group, the loss of money per victim is increasing. The reason for the same is that the criminals are using victim’s personal information to create new accounts rather than hacking into existing accounts.
Two men from the Armenian Power gang were involved in an identity theft ring in California which robbed over $8 million in the year 2012.
Right after California comes Michigan having 122.2 complaints per 100,000 people. The most common identity theft scams include complaints related to lotteries and prizes. Housing scams were also quite common in West Michigan in which fake landlords created fraudulent rental agreements to access personal information of individuals.
In May 2016, Qasim Ibn-Ishaq Verser and Tsiidzoyedu Callista Chiwocha were involved in the filing of false tax returns by deceiving residents of Michigan which included homeless and physically disabled people. They tricked these people into providing their personal information.
New York stands on the fifth spot with 110.1 identity theft complaints per 100,000 people.
A New York identity theft ring of about 100 people which included employees of banks, restaurants, and retail outlets were involved in a credit card scam. They used the process of skimming to steal credit card numbers. Fake credit cards were created by these numbers. They stole approximately $13 million by using this method.
The New York City Council introduced a cybercrime lab in 2012 so that technology related crimes such as identity theft can be addressed.
Nevada had 109.9 complaints per 100,000 people. Most of the complaints were related to debt collectors, banks, and lenders. Factors such as recession and housing crisis led to identity theft in this state. The values of houses dropped by 52% between 2007 and 2012 which led to financial pressure among the residents of Nevada. The state is still recovering from this.
According to a recent report, due to cyber identity theft, the residents of Nevada lost millions of dollars in 2011.
There were about 28,000 complaints related to identity theft in Texas in 2012. The residents complained about impostor scams, financing offers and issues with newly bought cars.
After raiding four houses in Houston, Texas in March 2013, the police found several blank cards which were used for identification purpose, encoding devices for encoding false information and other equipment used for fraudulent purposes for committing identity theft.
Arizona had 107.3 identity theft complaints per 100,000 people. Most of the complaints were associated with debt collection due to Arizona’s poor housing market.
Due to its proximity to Mexico, it is vulnerable to identity theft as many undocumented Mexican citizens could buy identities of US citizens to acquire US citizenship for jobs and other purposes.
Several grocery stores such as Food City, Sprouts Farmers, etc. fell victim to malware attacks which led to the stealing of information.
Maryland reported 105 complaints per 100,000 people. Complaints associated with government documents and benefits were most common.
A resident of Baltimore County, Maryland stole identities of more than 250 people and acquired huge amount by writing fraudulent checks. He even rented apartments using the identities of the identity theft victims.
About 104.9 identity theft complaints per 100,000 people were reported in Alabama.
Elizabeth Grant and Ann Grant, residents of Seale stole identities of various individuals living in Montgomery, Alabama and filed for fraudulent income tax returns between June 2012 and December 2013.
By taking some appropriate measures for identity theft prevention, individuals can avoid identity theft, no matter they live in which state. If people are extra careful about their personal information and regularly monitor their credit reports, they can surely prevent identity theft.