Special Report

9 States With the Most Identity Theft Complaints

6. Michigan
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000:
104.3
> Total complaints per 100,000 population: 749.2 (5th highest)
> Total complaints: 74,244 (6th highest)
> Average amount paid: $1,418 (5th lowest)

Unlike many other states with high levels of identity theft, Michigan residents had relatively low debt levels. The average auto loan debt among residents was $13,858, the lowest in the nation. Also, Michigan residents had mortgage debt averaging $115,967, one of the lower levels nationwide. Michigan fraud victims also reported nearly the lowest payout, averaging $1,418. While debt levels were relatively low, the state was hit hard by the financial crisis, and many residents are likely still vulnerable to scam artists as a result. There were 4,362 government documents or benefits fraud complaints, and 2,301 phone or utilities scam reports, which together made up a majority of the 10,338 total identity theft complaints in the state.

5. Georgia
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000:
112.7
> Total complaints per 100,000 population: 777.7 (2nd highest)
> Total complaints: 78,526 (5th highest)
> Average amount paid: $1,750 (16th lowest)

As with most of the states on this list, Georgia’s 2014 annual unemployment rate was relatively high, at 8.2%. The state also had high poverty levels, 19.2%. Both these factors contributed to financial distress among residents, many of whom may have become targets of fraud as a result. As in most states, Government documents and benefits fraud accounted for the largest share — 41% — of the state’s identity theft complaints. According to recent news reports, incidents of identity theft are on the rise in Georgia. Several local jurisdictions are “overwhelmed with identity theft cases.” Most of these crimes involve filing false tax returns with stolen social security numbers.

ALSO READ: 9 States Running Out of Water

4. Missouri
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000:
118.7
> Total complaints per 100,000 population: 516.3 (21st highest)
> Total complaints: 31,304 (19th highest)
> Average amount paid: $1,587 (13th lowest)

The number of identity theft complaints per 100,000 Missouri residents jumped from 67 in 2013 to 118.7 in 2014, propelling Missouri from 25th to fourth place on this list. Government documents and benefits fraud represented the majority of identity theft complaints, 62%, the highest rate in the nation. Missouri was one of only nine states in which government documents and benefits accounted for more than 50% of identity theft complaints. Credit card fraud was a distant second, accounting for only 10% of identity theft complaints in Missouri, compared with 17% nationally. Contributing to Missouri’s high ranking, the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area had the third-highest rate of identity theft of all MSAs in the country.