Identity Theft

Latest Study Ranks the 10 Worst U.S. States for Identity Theft

Network Assured shared the results of a recent data study that looked at which U.S. states saw the most reports of identity theft per capita in the last 5 years. The study looked at ID theft reports and losses incurred as well as data breaches, to rank the states where an individual resident is most likely to be the victim of identity theft. It also scored each state government’s preventative measures against ID theft on a scale of 1 to 10.

Study Methodology

Network Assured used data from the FTC on annual identity theft reports and financial losses, comparing them to state level data breach statistics from State Attorneys Generals and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR).

It also compared losses from identity theft to each state’s median income, to establish which state’s residents lost the highest share of their income to identity theft.

Identity Theft is High Where Data Breaches are High

The study found that per capita identity theft is high in states where per capita data breaches are high. Data breaches are the most common source for the unlawful acquisition of personal data. There can be a lag of years between when personal data is stolen in a data breach, and when it is used to successfully impersonate someone’s identity.

Other study results indicated that:

  • Rhode Island was the worst state in the U.S. for identity theft, seeing an average of 897 ID theft reports per 100,000 residents for the last 5 years.
  • Residents of Florida lost the highest share of median income to identity theft, at 2.74%.
  • COVID caused a spike in identity theft cases in all U.S. states, as criminals used stolen personal data to fraudulently apply for unemployment insurance.
  • Government preventative measures can be effective in reducing the damage of ID theft. Maryland, that has seen a high number of data breaches per capita, has seen far less than the expected number of ID theft cases, thanks to strong data breach reporting and data privacy laws in the state.
  • 5 of the 10 worst states for identity theft have no legislative measures in place to protect their citizens against data breaches.

State Governments Can Act to Reduce Identity Theft, But Many Have Not

State governments can reduce the risk of identity theft by mandating the reporting of data breaches so that residents can find out, and take action when their personal data has been compromised. Most of the worst states for identity theft have not implemented this basic requirement.

Governments can also impose harsher penalties for identity theft, and put programs in place to assist victims with recovery. The study found these measures are also rare, existing only in a small number of states.

Reducing Identity Theft Requires Public/Private Partnership

Corporate data breaches are where personal data is most often stolen, and government departments (such as those responsible for unemployent insurance) are often where stolen data becomes the theft of an identity.

The study underscores the need for governments and corporations to cooperate in the fight against cybercrime and identity theft. With greater transparency in data breach reporting and stronger laws to criminalize identity theft, the study hints that reducing the losses from identity theft is possible.

To see the complete findings, including the full list of the worst states for Identity theft, along with full color charts, please visit the study here.

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