With businesses such as Facebook, T-Mobile and Volkswagen experiencing data breaches this year and the number of breaches already higher than in 2020, the free credit-monitoring website WalletHub has released its report on 2021’s States Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft and Fraud, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary.
To determine where Americans are most susceptible to such crimes, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 14 key metrics. The data set ranges from identity-theft complaints per capita to the average loss amount due to fraud.
For the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-where-identity-theft-and-fraud-are-worst/17549
In addition, WalletHub offers an Identity Theft Guide and free credit monitoring to help consumers handle or prevent the damaging effects of cybercrimes.
California’s Vulnerability to Identity Theft and Fraud (1=Most Vulnerable; 25=Avg.):
• 15th – Identity-Theft Complaints per Capita
• 11th – Avg. Loss Amount Due to Online Identity Theft
• 21st – Fraud and Other Complaints per Capita
• 3rd – Median Loss Amount Due to Fraud
• 18th – State Security-Freeze Laws for Minors’ Credit Reports
• 1st – Identity-Theft Passport Program
• 46th – Persons Arrested for Fraud per Capita
What can individuals do to guard against identity theft?
“The best way individuals can protect themselves from identity theft is to limit the amount of information they share with third parties. Identity theft has become about more than just social security numbers and dates of birth. We increasingly rely on a large set of information about ourselves to authenticate who we are. Companies will often request access to more data than they need to authenticate a person and provide services. Consumers need to be vigilant to share only what is absolutely necessary and only with entities that have a legitimate need to know.”
Anthony V. Martino – Director, Northeast Cybersecurity and Forensics Center, Utica College
What are some common COVID-19 related scams and fraud attempts people should be vigilant about?
“Scams related to government benefits based on your vaccination status, paying for vaccination or vaccination benefits, asking for insurance information, and cures for COVID-19 are common. There are also regular scams that have blended with COVID-19, for example, a prince that cannot get inheritance until he pays a certain amount because of a medical condition, or an unknown person reaching out because they need money to pay for medical expenses … You should not share health or financial information without a very good reason and with a very trustworthy source … If a government or pharmaceutical company reaches out to you unexpectedly, especially through email, it is likely a scam.”
Justin Scott Giboney – Associate Professor of Information Systems, Brigham Young University
Is the expansion of social media facilitating more identity thefts?
“Absolutely. Social media increases the chance of ID theft, by creating an atmosphere of undeserved trust, which facilitates Social Engineering. On social media, people are willing to share personal information with people they have never met, or are false identities.”
Alan A Katerinsky – Clinical Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York