With the accumulating information available on eah person, identity theft has become an increasing threat. Thousands of people a year are affected by this crime. Their personal information is used in a myriad of ways without their consent.
Here is how the rest of the country compared to Michigan Identity Theft
There are a few key practices that increase risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Using only credit or debit cards instead of cash.
- Posting personal information about self and family on social boards.
- Storing financial or personal information on a smart-phone and not protecting it with extra security measures.
- Using public hotspots for devices that have privy information stored on them.
The most popular ways of committing identity theft are:
- Government documents/benefits account for 34% of reported identity theft cases.
- Credit card fraud come in at second with 17%.
- Phone and utilities identity fraud cases follow closely behind at 14%.
- Bank fraud and employment-related fraud are 8% and 6%, respectively.
- Loan fraud is last. It makes up only 4% of declared identity fraud cases. (Federal Trade Commission 2014).
According to research done by the Privacy Trust Group, on average, one in five people in America have been victim of some form of identity theft. This number has increased from the past two years where it was only one in eight people. The theft does not narrow itself down to one age group for victims though. Identity theft will happen to the young as well as the elderly. If fact, victims ages 18 to 24 tied victims aged 65 years or older; each making up approximately 5% of reported cases. (Harrell). The majority of reported cases were for those ages 30 to 50.
Regrettably, not all cases of identity theft are reported. According to the FTC:
- Only 41% of identity theft victims allegedly contacted law enforcement.
- 74% of those who contacted law enforcement notified a police department.
- Out of those who contacted a police department only 61% had a report taken.
Additionally, some areas are more prone to identity theft. Based on a recent study the states have been ranked highest to lowest in terms of complaints per 100,000 citizens. These statistics also include the home value change as this can contribute to more incidences of fraud.
The highest ranked state for identity theft is Florida. This state has:
- Complaints per 100,000 population: 997.8
- Total complaints: 195,103
- Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 192.9
- 2006-2015 home value change: -33% (Zillow)
The third highest ranked state is Nevada with:
- Complaints per 100,000 population: 719.1
- Total complaints: 20,062
- Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 97.1
- 2006-2015 home value change: -36.89% (Zillow)
Michigan comes in at fourth. Its current statics are:
- Complaints per 100,000 population: 676.7
- Total complaints: 66,964
- Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 97.1
- 2006-2015 home value change: -17.61% (Zillow)
Underneath Michigan is Delaware. The statistics for this state are:
- Complaints per 100,000 population: 637.4
- Total complaints: 6,234
- Identity theft complaints per 100,000: 81.1
- 2006-2015 home value change: -8.89% (Zillow)
What can be done to avoid having an identity stolen:
- Not keeping private information on one’s person or writing SSN on checks.
- Never writing down a pin number on something easily misplaced or stolen.
- Making sure no one else is looking while inputting sensitive information at ATM machines.
- Monitoring incoming mail and, if a bill is late, contacting the sender.
- Not letting mail sit where it can be easily taken.
- Watching bank and credit accounts for unauthorized transactions.
- Shredding papers with personal information.
- Not responding to unsolicited requests, regardless of where they came from.
- Installing firewalls and virus detection software.
- Checking credit report at least once a year. (“Prevent and Report Identity Theft”).
Identity theft is an increasing concern that can happen to anyone. While Michigan does not have the highest rate of identity theft, residents should still be aware of the danger and take the necessary precautions to avoid becoming a victim.
Federal Trade Commission 2014. “Executive Summary Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book January – December 2013.” Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January – December 2012 [electronic Resource]. Https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/consumer-sentinel-network-data-book-january-december-2013/sentinel-cy2013.pdf ed. Federal Trade Commission, 2014. 3. Web.
“Florida Home Prices and Home Values | Zillow.” Florida Home Prices & Values. Zillow, 31 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. http://www.zillow.com/fl/home-values.
Frohlich, Thomas C. “Top States with the Most Fraud Complaints.” USA Today. Gannett, 8 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/03/08/states-with-most-fraud-complaints/6173855.
Harrell, Erika, and Lynn Langton. “Victims of Identity Theft, 2012.” U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 Dec. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2015. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit12.pdf.
“Prevent and Report Identity Theft.” Prevent and Report Identity Theft. U.S. Government, 2 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. http://www.usa.gov/topics/money/identity-theft/prevention.shtml.
Privacy Trust Group. “Identity Theft Statistics.” Identity Theft Statistics. Web. 18 Mar. 2015. http://www.privacytrustgroup.com/12identitytheftstatis.htm.
If you have been the victim of Identity Theft, call or email Attorney Gary Nitzkin for a free no obligation consultation at (888) 293-2882. Mr. Nitzkin is an attorney with Michigan Consumer Credit Lawyers. We focus our practice on fixing people’s credit for free. We make the bad guys pay your fees and costs.