America’s Worst States for Fraud

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5. Nevada
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 620
> Total complaints: 36,561
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 89.9 (7th most)
> Recession home value decline: 60% (the largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 13.4% (2nd most)

Home values in Nevada fell by approximately 60% from their prerecession peaks last year, the biggest decline in the country. The housing crisis led to high unemployment and a large percentage of homeowners either have underwater mortgage or are in foreclosure. According to Credit Karma, Nevada residents have the 10th-highest mortgage debt per capita and the seventh-highest credit card debt per capita. State residents reported an average of 620 consumer-related complaints per person. Some 530 of those complaints per person fall into the fraud and other offenses section and the rest into identity theft.

4. Maryland
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 633
> Total complaints: 36,561
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 86.3 (9th most)
> Recession home value decline: 23.7% (12th largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 8% (5th most)

Maryland had the third-greatest level of fraud reports excluding identity theft, with 547 complaints per 100,000 residents. The state ranks ninth for identity theft complaints, with 86.3 complaints per 100,000 population. Maryland has the fifth highest rate of fraud regarding debt collection at 56.2 complaints per 100,000 population. In the identity theft category, the most common complaint is employment-related fraud.

3. Delaware
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 636
> Total complaints: 5,708
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 83.5 (10th most)
> Recession home value decline: 20.3% (16th largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 6.7% (16th most)

Twenty-one percent of Delaware’s identity theft complaints involve phone or utilities fraud. This is a higher percentage than any other state on our list. Delaware also has, by a large margin, the greatest rate of debt collection complaints in the country, with 69.8 complaints per 100,000 residents. Nevada had the second-highest level of debt collection complaints at 57.8 complaints per 100,000 residents.

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2. Colorado
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 656
> Total complaints: 33,010
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 82.6 (11th most)
> Recession home value decline: 6.9% (15th smallest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 4.1% (8th fewest)

Colorado has the highest per capita rate of fraud complaints other than identity theft. In 2011, the state had 573.7 fraud complaints per 100,000 population. The Greeley metropolitan area, had the second-highest rate of fraud complaints in the country at 946.1 per 100,000 population, and the Boulder metropolitan statistical area, or Boulder County, had the fifth-highest rate at 884.2 per 100,000 population. Debt collection was the biggest source of non-identity theft fraud, followed by problems with Internet services and shop-at-home catalog sales.

1. Florida
> Complaints per 100,000 population: 694
> Total complaints: 130,449
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 178.7 (the most)
> Recession home value decline: 44.8% (4th largest)
> Homes late on payment or in foreclosure: 17.4% (the most)

Florida has, far and away, the highest per capita rate of identity theft reports in the country. In 2011, the state had 178.7 complaints per 100,000 population. The greatest percentage of these complaints, 51% in total, involved government documents or benefits fraud. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metropolitan area, also known as the Miami metropolitan area, had the highest rate of identity theft complaints in the state and in the country at 324.1 complaints per 100,000 residents. This is nearly double the next-highest MSA.

-Michael B. Sauter