Identity theft is on the rise, with over 12 million victims affected each year. But did you know some geographic regions are at higher risk than others? Find out which states and countries carry the highest risk, why some places are more vulnerable than others, and how to protect your personal information no matter where life takes you.
Home to bright citrus groves, beautiful beaches, and The Most Magical Place on Earth, Florida's got a lot of good things going for it. But there's an ominous cloud brewing over the sunshine state, and your wallet may be at stake. With 13 of the most severely affected cities in the United States, Florida has more cases of identity theft than any other state—with California, Texas, New York and Georgia not far behind.
These states all have metro areas with high rates of unemployment and foreclosures. These kinds of unfortunate circumstances may be linked to higher rates of online crime, as those who feel trapped by their economic situation are more likely to turn to scams for quick cash. Florida specifically has a large number of tourists, and high percentage of transient and elderly residents—all prime targets for identity theft. Widespread credit card scams and fraudulent tax return filings are also major contributors.
While perhaps not as glamorous as the metropolitan cities in the states listed above, residents of North Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont, South Dakota and Alaska enjoy the lowest rates of identity theft in the country. This may be due in part to the states' smaller populations, lower percentage of elderly residents, and lower rates of crime overall. (Looks like there may be some truth to the Mayberry myth after all.)
When comparing identity theft rates with our European and Canadian neighbors, residents of English-speaking countries may be more at risk. According to a survey released by Paypal, 10 percent of online shoppers in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. experienced identity theft, compared to only five percent in France, Germany and Spain.
Not unsurprisingly, higher rates of identity theft occur in regions with higher concentrations of e-commerce, but a somewhat lax attitude towards security measures may also impact rates. 60 percent of Americans surveyed said they share their passwords, while another 36 percent admit to writing passwords down in order to remember them.
To protect yourself from falling victim to online identity theft, be sure to follow the basics. Never include your account information or social security numbers in your online correspondence. And make sure you choose antivirus software like Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, with real-time anti-phishing to identify and block fake websites that trick you into entering your personal information.
Privacy settings for social media sites can also serve as a powerful deterrent to cyber criminals seeking your phone number or email address. Last, but certainly not least, always remain on guard for suspicious spam emails that make their way into your inbox.
Regardless of where you live, endless opportunities are available to you on the web. But before you explore unchartered territory, make sure you're equipped with the right online safety essentials.
With Webroot® SecureAnywhere, you have several levels of protection to meet your individual needs and budget. Utilize Identity Shield to keep a watchful eye on shopping and banking websites, and encrypt your usernames, passwords and credit card numbers with SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus or SecureAnywhere Complete.
By taking these steps to thwart would-be cyber thieves, you can hold down the fort no matter where you build your castle.