Florida #1 for identity theft

The Federal Trade Commission’s 2013 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book shows that Florida is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by Georgia and California. The per capita rate is based on the rate of complaints per 100,000 population. Florida had 37,720 complaints and had a rate of 192.9. Georgia had 13,402 complaints and a rate of 134.1. California had 40,404 complaints and a rate of 105.4. The United States had a total of 290,056 identity theft complaints in 2013. Government documents/benefits fraud was the most common form of reported identity theft with 34 percent, followed by credit card fraud with 17 percent, phone or utilities fraud with 14 percent and bank fraud with eight percent. Other significant categories of identity theft reported by victims were employment-related fraud with six percent and loan fraud with four percent. The metropolitan areas ranking for identity theft complaints shows Tallahassee is number five with a rate of 179.4 and 659 complaints; Valdosta, Ga. is ranked number 19 with a rate of 125.4 and 175 complaints; and Gainesville is ranked 21 with a rate of 122.6 and 324 complaints. The Federal Trade Commission releases the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book every February and the 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book will soon be released. Tips to prevent identity theft: • Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Use your free hand to shield the keypad when using ATMs. • Commit all passwords and pins to memory. Never write them down or carry them with you. • Tear up or shred unwanted receipts, credit offers, account statements, expired cards, etc., to prevent dumpster divers getting your personal information. • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer. • Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary. • Keep your receipts and compare receipts with account statements for unauthorized transactions. • Check your credit report once a year. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has access to your account information.

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