The states most vulnerable to identity theft

Derek Miller

Identity theft is a major problem in the U.S. Over 15 million people were victims of identity theft in 2016, a 15% increase from the year before. While everyone is at risk of having their identity stolen, some people are at increased risk. This is especially true when you look at state data. Some states have more elderly residents, one of the most targeted groups for identity theft, or have wealthier households, another prime candidate for attempted identity theft.

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In order to find the states most vulnerable to identity theft, SmartAsset looked at data on identity fraud complaints, identity theft complaints, percent of the population under the age of 10 or over 65, average number of open credit cards per resident and the percent of households with an income over $74,999. To see where we got our data and how we put it together, check the data and methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Retirement states – The two most popular retirement states in the country, Arizona and Florida, are also some of the most vulnerable to identity theft. Florida ranked first overall and Arizona ranked eighth.

  • Identity theft doesn't discriminate –Whether you're old or young, rich or poor, identity theft can happen to anyone. But that doesn't mean becoming a hermit is your only way to protect yourself, there are ways to stay safe while leading an active financial life. Monitoring your credit report is a great start to catch identity fraud before it becomes a problem.

Data and Methodology

In order to find the states most vulnerable to identity theft, we looked at data on all 50 states. Specifically we looked at data on the following five factors:

  • Identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Federal Trade Commission's 2015 summary of consumer complaints.

  • Identity fraud complaints per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the Federal Trade Commission's 2015 summary of consumer complaints.

  • Percent of households earning over $74,999. We chose this as a metric because research from the AARP has shown that higher earning residents tend to be at higher risk of an identity breach. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 5-Year American Community Survey.

  • Percent of population under age 10 or over 65. Research has shown that children and seniors tend to be the most at risk of identity theft. Data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 5-Year American Community Survey.

  • Number of Credit Cards. This is the average number of credit cards per person in each state. Data comes from Experian's 2016 State of Credit report.

We ranked each state across each of the five metrics, giving equal weight to each metric. Then we found the average ranking for each state. Last, we used this average ranking to create our final score. The state with the best average ranking received a score of 100. While the state with the worst average ranking received a score of 0.

Questions about our study? Contact us at press@smartasset.com.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Michael Krinke

The post The States Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

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