Special Report

America's Worst States for Fraud

10. New Jersey
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 538
> Total complaints: 47,336
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 86.4 (8th most)
> Recession home value decline: 19.2% (17th largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 10.6% (3rd most)

New Jersey had 47,336 fraud related complaints in 2011, or the equivalent of 538 per 100,000 people. The state had roughly 7,600 reports of identity theft last year and nearly 40,000 complaints categorized as fraud or other. Thirteen percent of fraud reports in the state fell into the “advance fee loans and credit protection/repair” category. New Jersey has, according to Credit Karma, the fourth highest credit card debt per capita and mortgage debt per capita.

9. Washington
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 546
> Total complaints: 36,685
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 72.2 (18th most)
> Recession home value decline: 26.6% (8th largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 6.2% (22nd most)

In 2011, Washington state residents reported 36,685 counts of fraud, or 546 for every 100,000 people. The Mount Vernon-Anacortes Metropolitan region was a particularly hard-hit area, reporting a rate of 833.4 cases per 100,000 residents. The most common type of complaint was debt collection fraud, followed by Internet services and prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries. While the state is among the worst in several categories, identity theft is not a serious problem. Washington only ranks 18th-worst in the country.

Also Read: The Most Unhealthy Counties in America

8. Georgia
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 568
> Total complaints: 55,020
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 120 (2nd most)
> Recession home value decline: 26% (10th largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 8% (6th most)

Georgia only had the 13th-highest level of fraud and other than identity theft complaints. Meanwhile, identity theft complaints were 120 per every 100,000 residents, the second worst in the country. Credit card fraud accounted for 17% of identity theft. Phone and utilities fraud accounted for 14% and bank fraud for 12%.

7. Virginia
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 595
> Total complaints: 47,581
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 67.7 (21st most)
> Recession home value decline: 16.7% (21st largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 4.1% (10th fewest)

Virginia’s reported incidents of identity theft relative to the size of the state’s population were about average relative to the rest of the country. However, the state had the fifth-highest rate of fraud and other complaints, at 527 incidents per 100,000 people. After debt collection fraud reports, the most common complaints were shop-at-home catalog sales, followed by banks and lenders. The state has the ninth-highest credit card debt per capita in the country, the seventh-highest mortgage debt per capita and the 10th-worst average credit score.

6. Arizona
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 602
> Total complaints: 38,561
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 98.5 (4th most)
> Recession home value decline: 47.9% (2nd largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 7.1% (11th most)

From the prerecession peak, home prices have declined nearly 50% in Arizona — the second-biggest drop in the country. As of the end of last year, 7.1% of homeowners are delinquent on their payments, the 11th-highest rate in the country. And even with a low median home value, the state has among the highest average mortgage debt per capita in the United States. It may not be surprising to find many complaints related to debt collection, loans and mortgage payments. Employment-related fraud accounted for nearly 25% of all identity theft, one of the highest rates in the country.