A new report on identity theft and fraud across the United States has found that your risk of being hit by these crimes varies depending at least in part on where you live.
Using federal government and credit bureau data, WalletHub’s report uses 14 statistics to rank each U.S. state by residents’ vulnerability to identity theft and fraud.
For example, statistics used include:
- The state’s per capita arrests for fraud
- The state’s average loss from online identity theft
- Whether a state has laws to protect residents against phishing and spyware
Following are the top states — and Washington, D.C. — called out in the report as the riskiest in the nation for fraud and identity theft.
10. New York
Total score: 56.07 out of 100 possible points
WalletHub ranks New York the 10th riskiest state for identity theft and fraud.
In the first three quarters of 2022 in New York state, there were 77 reports of identity theft per 100,000 residents, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Total score: 56.26 out of 100 possible points
Florida residents made 123 reports of identity theft per 100,000 population in the first three quarters of 2022.
WalletHub ranks Florida as the ninth riskiest state for fraud and identity theft overall. WalletHub ranks Florida as No. 6 when considering fraud alone.
It’s useful to know about resources that offer help in case you become a victim. One free public resource is the federal government’s IdentityTheft.gov. It lays out steps for reporting the crime and recovering from identity theft and fraud, including how to correct credit reports, remove bogus charges and close accounts that were opened in your name by thieves.
Total score: 56.42 out of 100 possible points
Alabama received 81 reports of identity theft per 100,000 population in the first three quarters of 2022. In the same period, Alabamians made 243 reports of fraud per 100,000 of population.
If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, you’ll also find resources at the Federal Trade Commission. Issues addressed there include what to do if:
- You’ve paid a scammer.
- You’ve given a scammer your personal information.
- A scammer has access to your phone or computer.
Total score: 57.80 out of 100 possible points
What exactly does fraud look like? Here’s an example that was investigated at the Columbus, Georgia, campus of Apex School of Theology. The school had 20 satellite campuses and was headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, before it shut down according to the Associated Press report at WSBTV.
At the Columbus campus, the article says, five school employees including the Columbus branch director defrauded the federal government of $12 million in federal student aid by enrolling hundreds of fake students in classes that they did not attend.
Total score: 59.68 out of 100 possible points
The U.S. Attorney General’s Office launched a task force in 2021 to prevent, investigate and prosecute pandemic-related fraud. The task force works with other government agencies in pursuing the “most culpable” domestic and international criminals.
In one such case, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, FBI and the task force joined state and local police agencies to bring fraud and theft charges against a Pennsylvania man. He and co-conspirators are accused of using stolen identities to steal over $100,000 in COVID-19 pandemic relief loans from the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
PPP loans were created to help small businesses stay afloat during the worst of the pandemic.
Total score: 59.89 out of 100 possible points
Coloradans made 232 reports of fraud per 100,000 population in the first three quarters of 2022, according to the FTC.
At the same time, 47 reports of identity theft were received from Colorado residents.
4. Rhode Island
Total score: 61.36 out of 100 possible points
A 26-year-old Providence, Rhode Island, man pleaded guilty in federal court in December to charges that he, with others, participated in a conspiracy to fraudulently submit online applications for pandemic-related unemployment benefits, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island.
The defendant admitted to charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, theft of government money and aggravated identity theft, the statement said.
He is accused of fraudulently applying for COVID-related unemployment benefits in North Dakota, Massachusetts, Arizona, Nevada, Kentucky, Texas, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana.
Total score: 64.11 out of 100 possible points
Louisiana residents made 108 reports of identity theft per 100,000 population in the first three quarters of 2022. They also filed 207 reports of fraud per 100,000 population in that time.
WalletHub ranks the Pelican State as No. 2 — the second most vulnerable in the nation to identity theft — and No. 8 for fraud.
Total score: 64.84 out of 100 possible points
WalletHub named Delaware the second riskiest state in the union for identity theft and fraud overall.
The FTC reports that the state saw 355 reports of fraud per 100,000 population in the first three quarters of 2022. It had 105 reports of identity theft per 100,000 population.
1. District of Columbia
Total score: 65.07 out of 100 possible points
A 50-year-old District of Columbia woman was convicted by a federal jury in December on charges including bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and other charges.
She was accused of purchasing stolen credit card information online. It was used by a co-conspirator to create fraudulent payment cards using credit card manufacturing equipment found in a home the two shared, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The duo, along with other co-conspirators, caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of losses to stores and financial institutions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.