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Florida Is the Second Worst State in U.S. for Identity Theft and Fraud, According to Study

With the holiday shopping season is in full swing, now may be a good time to learn that Florida is the second worst place to have your identity stolen and fraud. Washington DC, it turns out, is the only place worse than Florida. In a study conducted by the finance website WalletHub. Florida consistently appeared at the bottom go all 50 states on just about every major category dealing with identity theft and fraud.

"WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across nine key metrics," says Diana Popa, the site's communication manager.. "Our data set ranges from the total number of identity-theft complaints per 100,000 residents to total cybercrime-related dollar losses per capita."

What they found is that Florida ranked horribly in just about every category in the study. 

For "most identity theft complaints per capita," Florida ranks 49th. When it comes to "credit-card fraud complaints," the Sunshine State came in at 51st. Florida ranks 47th in phone or utilities fraud complaints; 48th in bank fraud complaints;  44th in employment fraud  complaints, and 47th in total cybercrime-related dollar losses per capita.

The only category Florida did OK in was credit card fraud rate change, where it came in at a lousy 34th.

ID theft and fraud has always been a major issue in Florida. In fact, the feds just recently arrested 50 on identity theft and tax fraud charges in Florida. South Florida, in particular, consistently ranks the worst across the state when it comes to identify theft and fraud crimes.

According to the Federal Trade Commission. the identity theft rate in South Florida is twice that of the rest of the state.

Florida has the highest per capita rate of reported fraud and other complaints, according to the feds, with 133,973, or 694 per 100,000 people, in all of the U.S. Documents, benefits and tax fraud have accounted for 72 percent of the identify theft complaints in Florida the since 2012.

Overall, U.S. consumers have paid more than $1.4 billion in fraud complaints since 2012.

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"I think people need to get used to the idea that their social security number and personal information will probably be compromised in the next few years," says Matthew D. Green, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, and member of WalletHub's panel of experts. "What people need to do individually is monitor their credit."

Green points out some obvious, yet often neglected, ways of staying safe, such as monitoring and changing up passwords on places like your email or Facebook accounts. He says that the information is easily spread through the black market and used to steal someone's identity.

"The problem right now is that it's way too easy to open new accounts a few pieces of information," he says. 

Green also says you should probably avoid third-party providers that offer services that protect your identity and personal data. He says the best way to do that is to request your credit report, which you can do for free, and keep an eye on it. 

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