In 2020, at a time when many people were looking for a job, scammers were hard at work trying to trick Americans out of their money. Throughout the year, law enforcement reported 4.7 million instances of fraud, identity theft, and other scams. This shattered the previous record from 2019 by nearly 1.5 million reports. In total, Americans lost $3.3 billion to fraud last year.
Though every state had hundreds, if not thousands, of reports of fraud, some state populations were much more prone to identity theft than others. A few states reported less than 100 incidents per 100,000 residents, while three states reported over 1,000 incidents per 100,000.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book to identify the states with the most and least identity theft.
In 2020, by far the most common type of identity theft involved people fraudulently applying for government benefits. As the federal government offered loans to businesses and additional unemployment benefits because of the pandemic, there were nearly 400,000 reports of people fraudulently applying for or receiving benefits — a nearly 3,000% increase from the previous year.
In most cases, the person reporting fraud did not lose any money. Still, nearly three-quarters of a million Americans, just over a third of cases, were defrauded out of some money. The median loss in these cases was $311, yet nearly 40,000 Americans reported losing over $10,000 in some kind of criminal scam.
There does not appear to be any common through line between the states with the most identity theft per capita. The states near the top of the list run the gamut between big and small populations, high and low income, and they are located all across the country. Some of the states with the most identity theft generally have low violent crime rates, while others rank among the most dangerous states in America.