Data theft reached a record high in 2014, with 783 data breaches unfolding, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Furthermore, there were a total of 332,646 identity theft complaints last year, says the Federal Trade Commission.
FTC's 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book recently ranked the top consumer complaint categories -- with identity theft complaints claiming the No. 1 spot, followed by debt collection and imposter scams -- and provided a breakdown of identity theft complaints per state. Then, 24/7 Wall St. crunched some more numbers, such as income and unemployment levels, to share some interesting observations. Read on to learn about these interesting findings and to see if your state made the list.
Florida ranked No. 1 as the state with the most identity theft complaints, reporting 186.3 complaints per 100,000 residents. As 24/7 Wall St. explains, the state also leads the nation in the percentage of its population over age 65 (18.6%), which is likely a reason why the state is targeted for identity theft. Also, more than half of identity theft complaints (52%) in Florida involved benefits fraud or misleading government documents, which surpasses the national average of 38.7%. Florida recognizes the problem and in mid-2014, altered the state law to strengthen the requirements that individuals be notified of data breaches.
This state reported 154.8 identity theft complaints per 100,000 people. As 24/7 Wall St. revealed, those in Washington should be particularly mindful about credit card theft. The state has an average credit card debt of $5,078, which is the 12th highest in the country, and about 11% of identity theft complaints involved credit card fraud. A credit card data breach at a supermarket chain in Washington last year could have played a role in the increase in these types of complaints, says 24/7 Wall St.
In Oregon, there were 124.6 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents last year. This state had as many as 60% of identity theft complaints involving government documents or benefits. A large data breach at the Oregon Employment Department that impacted 851,322 people likely caused the increase in identity theft complaints in Oregon, according to 24/7 Wall St.
Missouri, which reported 118.7 identity theft complaints per 100,000 people, leads the nation in fraud related to government documents and benefits (62%). 24/7 Wall St. points to the St. Louis metropolitan statistical area, which had the third highest rate of identity theft of all MSAs in the country, as a particular trouble spot for the state.
In this state, there were 112.7 identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents. 24/7 Wall St. noted that residents were impacted by fraud that involved false tax returns with stolen security numbers, and that a high unemployment rate (8.2%) and high poverty levels (19.2%) likely play a role in why this state is targeted.
For further details on states that landed at the top of the list, check out 24/7 Wall St.