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2019-02-06 / News

Michigan Ranks #1 in Identity Theft

Think of all the ways you could be a victim of a crime. Do you register any of those as inevitable? In nearly every case it’s not even close, with one major exception: identity theft.

Years ago, theft concerned one of two things: money or property. In the digital age, lines have blurred. Things as innocuous as birthdates and pet’s names become building blocks for potential crimes, and information is more exposed than ever—routinely in transit, stored on countless devices, willingly shared on public platforms. Naturally, just as businesses need to assess security risk and take preventative measures, consumers do, too.

But how do average Americans behave in this environment? Are they appropriately concerned about cybercrime? Are they taking action? In December 2018, 2,000 Americans were surveyed about their experiences and perceptions of cybercrime and identity theft. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 82 years old, and all 50 U.S. states were represented.

Seventy-six percent of Americans now believe it’s inevitable that they will be victims of identity theft/ cybercrime, and nearly 48 percent (960 people) aren’t even concerned about it. Why? More than half of those 960 people stated that if something happened to them, they were sure they would get the damage reversed. A quarter of the unconcerned individuals believed thieves wouldn’t be able to do anything with the information if they stole it. The remaining 18 percent (173 people) believe it’s statistically unlikely they will have any serious consequences.

More than a third of Americans say they’ve already been victims of cybercrimes. A majority of these instances consisted of fraudulent credit or debit card charges. Other instances included obtaining government benefits, taking out a loan or lease, opening a bank account, opening a wireless or utility account, employment/tax fraud or simply having information stolen with no further consequences.

More than two thirds of the victims felt they could not have prevented the crimes, and 73 percent said they made no major changes to their behavior after being victimized. Despite this, 72 percent of the individuals surveyed said high-profile data breaches have caused them to change their behavior. The most recent Facebook data breach (2018) prompted a record 46 percent of its users to change their security behavior.

While one third of the subjects reported no real consequences, around 10 percent said they lost a lot of money. Eleven percent had their credit damaged.

The top 10 ways individuals attempt to protect themselves from identity theft or cybercrime are:

1. Looking for fraudulent credit/debit charges (77 percent)

2. Use very complex passwords (60 percent)

3. Use firewalls/antivirus software at home (55 percent)

4. Shred mail and other documents (50 percent)

5. Review credit reports regularly (49 percent)

6. Keep sensitive documents in a secure place (40 percent)

7. Change passwords frequently (32 percent)

8. Use VPN on public Wi-Fi (15 percent)

9. Pay for a credit monitoring service (nine percent)

10. Freeze their credit files when inactive (nine percent)

Unfortunately, Michigan ranks #1 in the United States for identity theft, according to a 2017 report from the Federal Trade Commission. Florida, California, Maryland and Nevada round out the top five victim states, respectively. South Dakota has the lowest rate of identity theft, followed by West Virginia, Vermont, Iowa and Maine.

A full report can be found at www.erpmaestro.com/cybercrime-identitytheftstatistics/.

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