Special Report

9 States With the Most Identity Theft Complaints

3. Oregon
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000:
> Total complaints per 100,000 population: 505.5 (22nd lowest)
> Total complaints: 20,069 (24th lowest)
> Average amount paid: $1,830 (23rd lowest)

More than 60% of identity theft complaints in Oregon in 2014 involved government documents or benefits, compared to 39% nationally. Almost a quarter of all fraud complaints in the state involved identity theft, compared to 13% across the country. The number of identity thefts in Oregon more than doubled from 2013 to 2014. Total fraud complaints also rose, though not as sharply. One explanation for the increase in identity theft complaints could be better reporting by Oregonians. In October 2014, the Oregon Employment Department reported a data breach which may have affected as many as 851,322 people. While there was no evidence the information was misused, the alert may have led to an increase in complaints. Oregon’s high ranking for fraud comes against the backdrop of a relatively low violent crime rate, 243 per 100,000, the 11th lowest in the country.

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2. Washington
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000:
> Total complaints per 100,000 population: 511.6 (23rd highest)
> Total complaints: 36,127 (17th highest)
> Average amount paid: $2,704 (7th highest)

Slightly more than 30% of all fraud complaints in Washington involved identity theft, the highest percentage of any state. Nationally, identity theft represented 13% of all fraud complaints. Indeed, identity theft grew dramatically in Washington, more than doubling from 2013 to 2014. There were 511.6 total fraud complaints per 100,000 Washington residents in 2014, with victims reporting losses of $2,704 per person, the seventh-highest figure in the country. The median household income in Washington was $58,405, about $6,200 more than the national median. High incomes help explain why fraud nets more in the state than in most other states. Washington residents had an average credit card debt of $5,078, 12th highest in the nation. About 11% of total identity theft complaints involved credit card fraud. In August 2014, Albertsons stores in Washington state acknowledged a credit card breach affecting customers who shopped in the company’s stores in Washington, Montana and Idaho between the end of June and mid-July. According to Toporoff, publicized data breaches often result in an increase in complaints of identity theft.

1. Florida
> Identity theft complaints per 100,000:
> Total complaints per 100,000 population: 1007.3 (the highest)
> Total complaints: 200,392 (2nd highest)
> Average amount paid: $2,104 (21st highest)

There were 186.3 identity theft complaints per 100,000 Floridians, the highest rate nationwide. Florida’s senior population appears to make the state particularly vulnerable to identity theft, and all other types of fraud, which affected more than 1 in every 100 residents, also the highest rate in the nation. The fraud rate was almost a third higher than second-ranked Georgia, which had 777.7 fraud complaints for every 100,000 residents. Florida leads the nation in the percentage of its population over age 65, 18.6%. Many of Florida’s older residents likely recieve social security benefits, which could explain the 52% of Florida identity theft complaints that involved government documents or benefits fraud, versus 38.7% nationwide. In mid-2014, Florida changed state law to strengthen requirements that individuals be notified of data breaches which could lead to identity theft.

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