16 States With a Huge Identity Theft Problem

Identity theft is a big problem, and it’s a growing one. The Consumer Sentinel Network (a database used by the Federal Trade Commission and a variety of agencies) received nearly 500,000 complaints about identity theft in 2015. Complaints increased about 47% from 2014 and about 69% from 2013, making it the second most common source of consumer complaints, after debt collection.

Of course, the number of complaints about identity theft only gives a partial picture of the crime’s reach, because not all victims file a complaint. On top of that, plenty of victims don’t even know they’ve had their identities stolen. That means identity theft occurred more frequently in 2015 than the 490,220 complaints indicate, likely causing plenty of credit problems along the way.

Here are the states where identity theft was most common last year, according to the complaint reports. (Note: There are some ties in the rankings, which have been notes below.)

15. Washington (tie) 
Complaints per 100,000 people: 126.1
Number of complaints: 9,043

15. Oregon (tie) 
Complaints per 100,000 people: 126.1
Number of complaints: 5,081

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14. Arizona
Complaints per 100,000 people: 133.8
Number of complaints: 9,136

12. Ohio (tie) 
Complaints per 100,000 people: 134.4
Number of complaints: 15,611

12. Wisconsin (tie)
Complaints per 100,000 people: 134.4
Number of complaints: 7,756

11. Rhode Island
Complaints per 100,000 people: 141.2
Number of complaints: 1,491

10. California
Complaints per 100,000 people: 141.3
Number of complaints: 55,305

9. New Hampshire
Complaints per 100,000 people: 142
Number of complaints: 1,890

8. Texas
Complaints per 100,000 people: 144.3
Number of complaints: 39,630

7. Georgia
Complaints per 100,000 people: 149.1
Number of complaints: 15,230

6. Michigan
Complaints per 100,000 people: 158.1
Number of complaints: 15,684

5. Illinois
Complaints per 100,000 people: 158.7
Number of complaints: 20,414

4. Maryland
Complaints per 100,000 people: 183.2
Number of complaints: 11,006

3. Florida
Complaints per 100,000 people: 217.4
Number of complaints: 44,063

2. Connecticut
Complaints per 100,000 people: 225
Number of complaints: 8,078

1. Missouri
Complaints per 100,000 people: 364.3
Number of complaints: 22,164

Not only is it annoying to discover someone has stolen your identity, it’s costly. Thieves can do serious damage to your finances and credit scores, and the more information they stole, the more of a mess they can make. Dealing with identity theft tends to be a bit easier if you notice it quickly. You may want to make a habit of looking out for signs of identity theft, which is one of the many reasons to regularly review your credit. You can get a free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Other than freezing your credit or putting a fraud alert on your credit files to prevent new-account fraud, there’s not much you can do to stop an identity thief from abusing your information, so it’s important you know how to respond if it happens to you. Some of the first things you need to do is file a police report describing the crime and try to correct any related errors on your credit reports or accounts.

More on Identity Theft:

Image: iStock

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