Identity theft is on the rise, but is most common in three southern states: Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission.
In 2022, more than 500 people out of 100,000 were victims of crime, with credit card fraud being the most common form of identity theft. This involves scammers using someone’s personal information to steal from a credit card account or to open a new line of credit in the person’s name.
Alabama’s largest college town, Tuscaloosa, was the No. 1 metropolitan area in the country for identity fraud, with more than 1,000 victims per 100,000 residents.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ranked second, with 947 victims per 8,347 residents, followed by the Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach areas in South Florida, with 868 affected per 53,201 residents.
There were a shocking 441,822 reports of identity theft across the country last year.
Millennials appeared to be most at risk, with people ages 30 to 39 accounting for 25% of all US victims, according to the data.
Americans 80 and older reported the least amount of fraud.
After credit card fraud, the second most common category of scams were those involving online shopping and payment accounts, social media and email, according to the FTC report.
Criminals also found a way to get money through employment, taxes, benefits, loans, utilities, and phone calls.
The FTC suggests that Americans protect themselves from identity theft by keeping paper financial records, including Social Security cards, Medicare cards, and other personal documents in a private space.
Those who sign into an account online must use a strong password and add multi-factor authentication to accounts that offer that option (an extra security measure that requires two or more credentials to sign in to an account), according to the FTC.
The agency also urges Americans to beware of scammers who call, text or email asking for personal information.