The risk of identity theft in the United States continues to rise. The incidence of such crimes rose consistently over the last decade, from 246,214 in 2006 to 399,225 last year.
The rate of identity theft varies considerably between states. Using the Federal Trade Commission’s 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the states with the most and least identity theft.
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 139.5
> Identity theft complaints: 54,744 (the highest)
> Fraud complaints per 100,000: 319.4 (23rd highest)
> Avg. loss per scam: $1,348 (3rd highest)
The Consumer Sentinel Network received over 3 million complaints in 2016. Of these, identity theft comprised 13%, the third largest complaint category after debt collection and impostor scams.
The risk of identify theft has increased as larger quantities of personal data continue to be exchanged over the internet. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the security of nearly 7.4 million personal records — a name plus a social security number, driver’s license number, medical or financial record — have been compromised so far this year.
Because often there is little that law enforcement can do, many victims do not report identity theft. While identity theft is a serious crime, only 27% of identity theft cases documented with the Consumer Sentinel Network are reported to law enforcement.
Other types of fraud, tracked separately from identity theft, can also have devastating effects on American consumers. Of the 3 million total complaints in 2016, 1.3 million were fraud related. The typical consumer involved in these scams lost $450.
Impostor scams were the most common form of fraud reported. Scammers claiming to be a loved one stranded abroad without money, computer technicians selling unneeded software, and criminals posing as government agencies are all some of the most common types of impostor scams.
To determine the states with the most and least identity theft, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed consumer complaints of identity theft per 100,000 residents in every state with data from the Federal Trade Commission’s 2017 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Also considered were total identity theft complaints, fraud complaints per 100,000 residents, and the average amount stolen by a scammer. All figures are for 2016 and were obtained from the FTC’s report.