Florida’s identify-theft rate towers over lower 49

Statistics paint an astonishing picture of risk in the Sunshine State

Sure, the headline gives away the answer, but if you had been asked to guess which state has the highest rate of reported identity theft you'd likely have chosen Florida: A large population of vulnerable retirees and a generally high crime rate all but guarantee the distinction.


What might surprise you, however - and what shocked me -- is the magnitude of Florida's "lead" over the other 49 states.  It's mind-boggling.

According to statistics gleaned from the Federal Trade Commission's most recent Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, Floridians reported about 70,000 incidents of identity theft in 2012, or 361 for every 100,000 residents.

(How The Onion's Twitter account got hacked.)

Florida's neighbor to the north, Georgia, ranks second on the list, but with only 194 reports per 100,000 residents, or roughly half that of the Sunshine State.

Yet even that lopsided comparison doesn't begin to do justice to the relative enormity of Florida's ID theft plague.

 Numbers three through five on the list are California, Michigan and New York -- large industrial states with crime-fighting challenges of their own yet only one-third of the reported identity theft as Florida. One third.

Nevada is number six on the list and even carrying the full weight of Sin City reports only 30 percent as many victims of identity theft as does Florida. Same thing goes for Arizona, which like Florida is a haven for retirees.

Let's jump down to the median, where Washington sits at No. 25 and Ohio at No. 26: Floridians are fully five times more likely to be victimized than residents of these two states.

And then we have the Dakotas at No. 49 (North) and No. 50 (South): Residents of those states run only one-tenth the risk of identity theft as your average Floridian.

Of course, when's the last time you heard of anyone retiring to the Dakotas?

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