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Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud: Which States are Most Vulnerable

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Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud: Which States are Most Vulnerable

Residents in some states are more vulnerable to identity theft, according to a review of federal data by NerdWallet, a personal finance website.

In 2014, there were 332,646 identity theft complaints in the U.S., data from the Federal Trade Commission show. This figure includes complaints by consumers to the FTC as well as reports received by federal and state law enforcement agencies, national consumer protection organizations and non-governmental organizations.

The most common kind of identity theft is fraud involving government documents, such as Social Security cards, passports and driver’s licenses, and government benefits fraud. Other kinds of identity theft are credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud and employment-related fraud.

Identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents

The map shows how identity theft differs across the U.S. To see the rate of identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents, click on the fraud categories and hover over a state or scroll through the list of all 50 states and Washington, D.C.



Check out the full data for identity theft rates by state and by metropolitan area in the tables below.
Find out how much you know about credit card fraud by taking our quiz.

Key findings

Florida is No. 1. The Sunshine State leads the way in overall identity theft complaints per capita, with 186 per 100,000 residents. Washington, Washington, D.C., Oregon and Missouri also have higher rates of identity theft. Meanwhile, the lowest rate of identity theft complaints was in South Dakota, Hawaii and North Dakota. In comparison, data show that per capita, there were nearly five times as many identity theft complaints in Florida as in Hawaii. 

Credit card fraud reported more on the coasts. Florida leads the nation in credit card fraud complaints per capita while Washington, D.C., California, Nevada and New York also have high rates. Residents in North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming and Iowa file the fewest credit card fraud complaints. Credit card fraud complaints comprised 17.4% of the 332,646 total identity theft complaints in 2014.

Consumers’ complaints unresolved. Some 9% of consumers’ credit card fraud complaints were closed without any form of relief from the companies involved, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

We analyzed data CFPB data from December 2011 to Sept. 14, 2015, to examine how companies are addressing consumers’ complaints. One of the missions of the agency, which was created by Congress in 2010, is to educate consumers about the financial agreements for their mortgages, payday loans and other borrowing, such as credit cards.

The future of credit card fraud

EMV technology, a way to make credit card payments more secure by generating a unique code for each in-person credit card transaction, is being widely adopted across the U.S. After October, merchants or vendors who don’t support EMV technology will be liable for fraudulent transactions that occur in person.

Sean McQuay, NerdWallet’s credit cards expert, warns that there are some limitations with this technology. “It’s important for consumers to know that EMV chips are not a magic bullet for credit card security,” McQuay says.

“It’s important for consumers to know that EMV chips are not a magic bullet for credit card security,” says Sean McQuay, NerdWallet credit cards expert.

While EMV technology should cut down on credit card fraud in the long run — namely, counterfeit fraud — complaints stemming from online shopping fraud are likely to increase. Online shopping and other forms of so-called card-not-present fraud increased 120% over a decade in the United Kingdom from 2004, when EMV technology was adopted, to 2014.

There’s a chance that residents of Florida, Washington, D.C., and California could see their already higher rates of credit card fraud increase more in the months to come when they make purchases online.

How does the CFPB help consumers?

Each week, the CFPB logs thousands of complaints about financial products and services to help consumers get responses from companies.

Here’s an example of one of the thousands of consumer narratives complaining about credit card fraud in the CFPB database:

“I reached out to [the issuer] for help & they denied to help me. I hired an investigator to assist me who understands the bank’s rules & regulations. We sent the information to [the issuer] for help & they sent a letter saying they still can’t help me to return my money.”

“I reached out to [the issuer] for help & they denied to help me. I hired an investigator to assist me who understands the bank’s rules & regulations. We sent the information to [the issuer] for help & they sent a letter saying they still can’t help me to return my money.”

This consumer isn’t alone. NerdWallet analyzed the 4,607 complaints about credit card fraud to the CFPB from December 2011 to Sep. 14, 2015, to see how companies respond to consumers.

NerdWallet’s analysis

We found that 58% of all credit card fraud complaints to the CFPB were closed with an explanation from the bank, which means it met the consumer’s desired resolution or it explained why no further action was taken.

About 17% of credit card fraud complaints were closed with some monetary relief, while 13% were closed with non-monetary relief. But 9% of all credit card fraud complaints were closed without monetary or non-monetary relief or without an explanation.

The consumer in the complaint above, for example, was provided an explanation, but wasn’t given monetary or non-monetary relief by the credit card issuer. The CFPB reports that the consumer has disputed the card issuer’s response.

Test your credit card fraud knowledge

Methodology

Data on identity theft rates per 100,000 residents are from 2014 and the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network.

Data on companies’ response rates to credit card fraud complaints are from the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database from December 2011 to Sept. 14, 2015.

Identity theft rates by state


Scroll through the table to see the data on identity theft rates by state and category from December 2011 to Sept. 14, 2015.

Rank State Total identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents Government documents or benefits fraud complaints per 100,000 residents Credit card fraud complaints per 100,000 residents Phone or utilities fraud complaints per 100,000 residents Bank fraud complaints per 100,000 residents Employment fraud complaints per 100,000 residents
1 Florida 186.3 96.1 28.1 15.0 15.3 5.1
2 Washington 154.8 85.7 17.6 9.4 8.8 4.8
3 Washington, D.C. 142.8 47.5 25.0 22.3 12.0 5.8
4 Oregon 124.6 76.6 13.0 6.4 6.6 2.5
5 Missouri 118.7 73.6 12.2 9.4 5.9 2.7
6 Georgia 112.7 45.9 17.1 16.1 9.1 3.4
7 Michigan 104.3 44.0 14.3 23.2 5.9 3.3
8 California 100.5 24.8 24.7 11.6 10.4 8.2
9 Nevada 100.2 28.0 22.3 10.8 10.3 6.0
10 Arizona 96.0 29.9 13.8 10.1 7.4 12.7
11 Maryland 95.9 33.9 17.3 13.4 8.5 3.4
12 Texas 95.9 35.0 14.4 11.0 7.5 7.7
13 Illinois 95.6 35.3 14.9 16.9 6.9 4.4
14 Colorado 85.5 30.9 12.6 9.1 8.7 8.1
15 Connecticut 85.4 37.2 16.1 10.6 6.5 3.8
16 Arkansas 83.6 22.4 9.3 12.6 5.0 3.1
17 Pennsylvania 81.7 28.3 13.4 10.8 6.7 3.3
18 New York 80.8 25.4 19.6 10.6 7.9 3.5
19 Mississippi 80.5 37.5 7.4 12.1 5.5 2.7
20 New Jersey 79.9 22.8 17.0 10.7 9.1 3.9
21 Ohio 79.0 40.1 10.4 9.6 5.0 1.8
22 Delaware 78.1 28.9 12.8 11.5 7.5 2.7
23 Alabama 77.7 36.4 9.5 9.1 6.4 2.4
24 New Mexico 77.2 26.3 10.6 9.0 6.2 7.6
25 Tennessee 76.2 28.6 11.2 13.8 5.9 2.3
26 Massachusetts 75.8 32.6 11.8 9.7 5.2 3.9
27 Wisconsin 74.4 37.1 10.6 6.5 4.2 2.0
28 Louisiana 73.8 33.5 10.0 8.6 5.4 1.9
29 North Carolina 73.8 30.9 11.4 8.2 5.6 2.4
30 Alaska 73.6 40.2 8.7 5.4 4.6 1.6
31 South Carolina 73.3 26.0 10.5 10.6 5.5 2.1
32 Virginia 71.1 24.8 12.0 11.6 6.7 1.7
33 Oklahoma 68.5 27.1 9.3 7.5 5.4 3.4
34 Indiana 68.2 26.9 9.0 11.6 4.9 2.9
35 Rhode Island 66.2 29.1 11.9 7.8 5.2 2.6
36 Kansas 65.2 22.3 11.2 6.6 7.3 2.8
37 Vermont 64.2 35.6 6.4 5.9 4.1 1.0
38 West Virginia 61.4 29.3 8.5 9.3 3.6 1.1
39 Minnesota 59.2 21.4 10.9 6.7 5.2 1.9
40 Idaho 58.9 22.1 9.4 6.9 4.4 1.8
41 Montana 57.2 22.5 8.3 4.1 3.9 2.1
42 New Hampshire 54.7 24.5 8.7 5.7 4.5 1.4
43 Utah 53.9 16.3 10.9 5.5 5.0 4.0
44 Kentucky 53.4 23.2 9.2 5.8 3.9 2.2
45 Maine 52.1 29.5 7.5 4.2 3.8 0.5
46 Wyoming 49.1 18.7 7.0 5.8 4.3 2.4
47 Nebraska 48.6 16.8 7.4 6.2 3.7 3.4
48 Iowa 48.5 21.8 7.1 5.3 3.4 1.8
49 North Dakota 43.1 19.6 6.0 4.5 3.2 1.1
50 Hawaii 40.9 14.0 8.8 2.6 4.2 0.8
51 South Dakota 36.3 13.9 5.2 4.0 3.4 1.8

 

Identity theft rates in the largest U.S. metropolitan areas


Scroll through the table to see the data on identity theft rates by metropolitan area from December 2011 to Sept. 14, 2015.

Rank Metropolitan area Total identity theft complaints Identity theft complaints
per 100,000 residents
1 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 18,428 316.2
2 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA a 7,473 207
3 St. Louis, MO-IL 5,724 204.4
4 Tallahassee, FL 706 189.1
5 Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL 586 172.5
6 Olympia-Tumwater, WA 418 159.3
7 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 3,685 159.2
8 Pueblo, CO 252 156.1
9 Jacksonville, FL 2,156 154.6
10 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 6,522 151.9
11 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL 988 149.4
12 Port St. Lucie, FL 650 148.4
13 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL 908 145.7
14 Salem, OR 567 141.6
15 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 7,809 141.4
15 Beckley, WV 176 141.4
17 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 3,124 137.8
17 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 3,956 137.8
19 Stockton-Lodi, CA 915 129.9
20 Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 549 129.2
21 Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL 769 128
22 Columbus, GA-AL 404 127.6
23 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 2,002 127.5
24 Memphis, TN-MS-AR 1,650 123
25 Longview, WA 124 121.7
26 The Villages, FL 130 121.4
27 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 8,158 119.8
28 Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL 170 119.7
29 Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA 140 117.8
30 Fresno, CA 1,121 117.3
31 Flint, MI 482 116
32 Gainesville, FL 312 115.4
33 Ocala, FL 389 115.3
34 Montgomery, AL 425 113.8
35 Dothan, AL 167 113.1
36 Bremerton-Silverdale, WA 287 113
37 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 7,076 112.1
38 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 5,060 112
39 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL 817 111.5
40 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 14,397 109.6
41 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL 602 109.3
42 Modesto, CA 568 108.1
43 Jackson, MS 621 107.7
44 Laredo, TX 282 107.4
45 Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA 181 106.8
46 Racine, WI 206 105.6
47 Pittsburgh, PA 2,479 105
48 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 9,992 104.8
49 Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL 489 104.7
50 Cleveland-Elyria, OH 2,155 104.4

 

» MORE: Visit our credit card data page for more studies, surveys and statistics

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