With December being National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month and holiday shopping season still in full swing, leaving millions of Americans susceptible to data breaches, the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis that identifies 2015’s States Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft & Fraud.
To measure the level of susceptibility to such crimes for each state, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across nine key metrics. The data set ranges from the total number of identity-theft complaints per 100,000 residents to total cybercrime-related dollar losses per capita.
Georgia’s Vulnerability to Identity Theft & Fraud (1=Best; 25=Avg.)
46th – Identity Theft Complaints Per 100,000 Residents
44th – Credit-Card Fraud Complaints Per 100,000 Residents
48th – Phone Or Utilities Fraud Complaints Per 100,000 Residents
47th – Bank Fraud Complaints Per 100,000 Residents
46th – Government-Documents Or -Benefits Fraud Complaints Per 100,000 Residents
36th – Employment Fraud Complaints Per 100,000 Residents
20th – Total Cybercrime-Related Dollar Losses per Capita
44th – Credit-Card Fraud Rate Change (2013 vs. 2012)
45th – Number of Data Breaches per 100,000 Residents
Here are the bottom six states and those most susceptible:
46 Georgia 36.47
47 Arizona 36.38
48 California 32.06
49 Nevada 30.93
50 Florida 27.07
51 District of Columbia 19.96
A Few Quick Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft & Fraud
- Emphasize Email Security: It’s obviously important to use strong passwords for all financial accounts, but you may not realize how essential it is to focus on email in the course of shoring up such cyber defenses. Your primary email address will likely serve as your username and means of resetting your password on other websites, so if it’s vulnerable, all of your other accounts will be too. As a result, make sure to use an especially secure password and establish two-step verification for this account.
- Sign Up For Credit Monitoring: Credit monitoring is the best way to keep tabs on your credit report, providing peace of mind in the form of alerts about important changes to your file, including potential signs of identity theft. WalletHub offers free monitoring of your TransUnion credit report.
- Leverage Account Alerts & Update Contact Info: Setting up online management for all of your financial accounts (e.g., credit cards, loans, IRS, Social Security), and keeping your phone number, email address and street address up to date will make them harder for identity thieves to hijack. Establishing alerts for changes to your contact info and other suspicious account activity will serve as a safeguard.
- Exercise Commonsense Online: Don’t open emails you don’t recognize. Don’t download files from untrustworthy sources. Don’t send account numbers and passwords via email or messenger applications. And don’t enter financial or personal information into websites that lack the “https” prefix in the address.