WalletHub Study Ranks States By Identity Theft Vulnerability

Throughout this Millennium so far, we’ve heard a lot about the threats of identity theft, online fraud, and other cybercrimes. Moreover we’ve all heard horror stories about how much victims have lost as a result of these attacks and about the lengths they had to go to just to restore the status quo. Given the fact that these problems only seem to be growing and not going away, WalletHub recently released a study looking at which states were the most and least likely to experience identity theft and fraud.

To determine the rankings of all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, WalletHub broke their rubric into three main sections: Identity Theft, Fraud, and Policy. The three largest factors in their scoring system came from the Identity Theft section, including the number of identity theft complaints per capita, the change in the number of complaints from 2017 to 2018, and the average loss amount due to online identity theft. Similarly the Fraud section also looked at the number of complaints per capita and change in the number of complaints, although in this case they used the media loss amount. Additionally this section factored in the number of persons arrested for fraud per capita as well as e-commerce attack rates. Finally the Policy section considered such things as the state’s availability of an identity theft passport program, a state’s compliance with REAL ID Act, data disposal laws, and more.

With all of those factors considered, the top-ranking state was actually not a state at all — it was Washington D.C. With a score of 70.30, the District’s residents were found to be the most vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. D.C. also tied for first in terms of Policy but it ranked fifth and sixth in the Fraud and Identity Theft sections respectively.

Second on the list was California with a score of 67.72. While the Golden State’s protections landed it at number 42 in terms of Policy, its number 1 placement in the heavier-weighted Identify Theft category led to such a high overall ranking. Rounding out the rest of the top five were Nevada (65.41), New Hampshire (63.82), and South Carolina (63.43). Meanwhile the sixth-ranked Delaware was found to have the highest score in the Fraud category.

Turning to the bottom of the list, Kentucky ranked 51st overall and in the Identity Theft section. With a score of 31.86, the state’s total was less than half that of Washington D.C.’s. Also bringing up the rear were Wyoming, Vermont, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.

Interestingly the state found to have the highest average loss amount due to fraud was North Dakota. Equally as surprising, second place went to Alaska, with the rest of the top five being Nevada, South Dakota, and New Mexico. On the flip side, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Michigan were all tied for the lowest average loss.

While WalletHub’s study highlights areas where identity theft and fraud are more common, the truth is that anyone can fall victim to these attacks. Because of this it’s important that individuals remain vigilant by doing such things as monitoring their credit, potentially freezing their reports, and using greater caution when browsing online and opening e-mails. These types of incidents are only likely to get worse before they get better, so unfortunately it’s up to you to protect yourself from cybercriminals and other scammers.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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