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Sunshine state gloom: Florida found to be tops in identity theft

Erika Santoro
Big Data Download

Identity theft is on the rise, with it affecting more than 11 million Americans each year, but some states are worse than others when it comes to having your identity stolen, according to a 2012 Federal Trade Commission report.

Fraud experts at Equifax (EFX) find that Florida has the highest rate of identity theft nationwide. This could be due to its big transient population, large number of tourists and high percentage of elderly people—all of which are prime targets for identity theft.

Other states with high incidences of identity theft cases are California, Texas, New York and Georgia. This is due to metro areas with high rates of unemployment and foreclosures, and because people who feel economically desperate may be more likely to participate in identity theft scams to make quick cash.

In addition, the states with the most identity theft cases may have large border populations and areas of methamphetamine use, which are also factors that can contribute to identity theft.

By contrast, the states that have low rates of identity theft cases have smaller populations, a lower percentage of the elderly and the least overall rate of crime.

“If you wanted to be safe, you would probably head to North Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont, South Dakota and Alaska,” said Scott Mitic, senior vice president of Equifax Solution, who was formerly CEO of TrustedID.

Mitic also told “Big Data Download” that there has been an increase in elderly identity theft, child identity theft and tax identity theft.

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In 2012, there were more than 700,000 cases of child identity theft, representing nearly 6 percent of all cases nationwide, according to TrustedID data.

“Traditionally, online identity theft is a little bit lower lately than offline identity theft,” Mitic also told “Big Data Download.” “It is actually much safer to transmit your personal information over the Internet than it is to put it in your mailbox,” Mitic said.

--Disclaimer: TrustedID was recently acquired by Equifax.

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