Identity theft in the United States is rising. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network report, the number of reported cases more than doubled from 2019 to 2020. One possible reason for the surge is the pandemic and the legislation that included more than $5 trillion in various government benefits to help financially strapped Americans. This has provided an opportunity for fraud for scammers on a larger scale. (Here are some of the largest cases of COVID-19 relief fraud.)
Though identity theft cases continued to grow nationwide in 2021, it wasn’t at the same scale as the previous year. Also, cases are much more prevalent in some states. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the FTC’s 2021 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book to identify the states with the most and least identity theft. States are ranked by the number of identity theft reports per 100,000 people. All data is from the report.
Retail financial services research company, Javelin Strategy estimates that thieves swiped $52 billion last year. In 2021, the FTC received more than 1.4 million reports of identity theft, with the most likely victims between 30 to 39 years old.
There are five types of identity theft: financial identity theft, which can involve stealing a credit card number; medical identity theft, when someone swipes someone’s personal information to obtain health care services or get prescription drugs; criminal identity theft, when someone uses another person’s name when arrested; synthetic identity theft, when someone creates a bogus ID for a birth certificate or Social Security card using someone’s actual information to apply for a loan; and child identity theft, when a criminal uses a minor’s personal information to commit bank fraud or another kind of identity theft.
Though identity theft occurs in all 50 states, the incidence is rarer in Western states such as North and South Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota is the only state with fewer than 100 reports per 100,000 people.
The five states with the most identity theft reports were Georgia, Louisiana, Illinois, Kansas, and Rhode Island. (Also see, cities where the larceny theft rate is soaring.)
The number of reports in Rhode Island, the top state, more than doubled in 2021 to 2,857, from 1,191 a year earlier, according to s McAfee report on identity theft. Another report on identity theft, by Fidelity’s IPX 1031, noted that Kansas posted the highest increase in ID theft of any state at 94.75% during 2020-2021 compared with 2017-2019, just ahead of Rhode Island, which saw a 94.66% increase.
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