ID theft: Why some Americans are more vulnerable than others

Identity theft is an ongoing problem that continues to persist. Javelin’s 2019 Identity Fraud Study showed 14.4 million people fell victim to fraud in 2018. While this is down from the 16.7 million victims in 2017, it is clear identity theft is a problem that isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Unfortunately, some Americans are more vulnerable than others and fall into higher-risk categories.

States where ID theft and fraud are the worst

A recent WalletHub report ranks states by identity theft and fraud. In its section for identity theft, California topped the list of states where Americans are most vulnerable. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 for ID theft vulnerability (in order) are Louisiana, Texas, New Hampshire, Georgia, Washington D.C., New York, South Carolina, and Montana.

It’s important to remember, this doesn’t mean people living in other states aren’t any less at risk because ID theft can occur anywhere.

Other risk categories

Thieves are getting more sophisticated with their schemes, which makes it more difficult for consumers to avoid being caught up in a data breach. It’s a good idea to never let your guard down and to always be careful about sharing your, and your children’s, personal information. ID thieves are increasingly intentionally targeting children IDs. This is because they are essentially a credit page waiting to be written, and thieves are taking advantage of the time between birth and applying for credit on their own. These thefts often go years before being detected. Seniors and active duty military members are also particularly vulnerable because they aren’t using or checking their credit as frequently.

Ways ID theft impacts your credit standing

ID theft can severely harm your credit standing, especially if you aren’t aware your identity has been compromised. A thief could be opening credit cards and applying for loans in your name for a long time before it’s discovered. In this timeframe, the thief can create a lot of debt, leaving you to clean up the mess to disassociate yourself from their spending sprees.

Repairing ID theft is expensive

The overalls numbers for ID theft have decreased, but research finds 23% of people victimized had unreimbursed personal expenses in 2018 – an amount that has tripled since 2016. What this means is more people than ever are paying out of pocket to cover the costs associated with fraud.

Remember, the sooner you can spot an ID theft problem, the quicker you can fix it and minimize the damage caused by thieves. By keeping on top of your credit standing, it’s easier to detect a problem.

If you find you're one of the millions of people who fall victim to identity theft each year, or even if you’re just having a little trouble with your credit standing, PRBC can help you to get back on track. All you have to do is continue to pay your monthly bills and build an alternative credit score. To learn more about how PRBC can help, contact us today.

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