iJacking - Identity Theft in America
Identity theft, also known as iJacking, is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States. iJacking is when a criminal obtains one's personal information, such as bank statements, Social Security Number, and credit card numbers to assume their identity and spend their funds. The identity thief commonly accesses the victim's bank accounts and opens new credit cards or accounts under their name.
In 2005, the Federal Trade Commission received over 250,000 complaints of identity theft, representing an 18.7% increase in complaints from 2003. Nearly every day, there are new reports of sensitive personal information being lost or stolen. Identity theft leaves its victims emotionally devastated as they try to restore their good name, a process that may take years.
Sperling's BestPlaces has released a new study that highlights the cities where residents are at a higher risk for iJacking.
Ten Most Risky Cities
1) San Francisco
4) San Jose
5) San Diego
7) Salt Lake City
8) Las Vegas
Ten Least Risky Cities
45) Virginia Beach
46) New Orleans
See complete list
Patterns and Trends
For "Riskiest Cities for Identity Theft", BestPlaces analyzed over 80 metrics which have been associated with identify theft, in the 50 largest metro areas in the United States.
The Riskiest Cities are generally wealthy, and prone to a fast-paced lifestyle that consisted of high rates of credit card and ATM use, daily internet use, and frequent meals away from home.
Not surprisingly then, the #1 and #2 spots are San Francisco and San Jose, which comprise the San Francisco Bay Area, The Bay Area is one of the wealthiest places in the U.S., and one of the most technologically advanced as well.
Other cities in the top ten are Salt Lake City, Denver, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Washington D.C., and Portland OR.
The least risky cities were places like Pittsburgh, where residents are more conservative regarding their money and lifestyle. They make fewer purchases using their credit card and aren't as likely to make purchases or perform financial transactions over the internet. The bottom ten places (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Louisville, Birmingham, New Orleans, Virginia Beach, Cleveland, Cininnati, Providence, and Rochester) all have substantially lower household incomes than the top ten places, and with the lower income comes fewer financial transactions and less money at risk.
Also, a positive correlation between methamphetamine use and risk for iJacking was found. Methamphetamines are a stimulant that can keep its users up for days, and causes obsessive compulsive behavior that can help a perpetrator complete the necessary steps to steal one's identity. Like iJacking, meth use has exploded in the past few years and the two epidemics go hand in hand.
The metrics were grouped into four major categories; Technology Impact, Crime, Transactions, and Risk Profile. Over 80 criteria were factored into the study.
1) Technology Impact included criteria such as Internet use, Online purchases, Email use, and Tracking and trading investments online.
2) Crime included ID theft rate, Fraud rate, Methamphetamine use rate, and Burglary, larceny rate.
3) Transactions was made up of criteria like Purchases away from home repairs, domestic services, and ATM use 4) Risk profile had criteria such as loans, debts, household net worth, and investment real estate
Although certain cities may have more risk factors for identity theft, one can take precautions to minimize their risk. Living in a high risk city does not mean you have to become a victim of identity, nor does residing in a city at the bottom of this study mean you are immune to iJacking. To reduce your risk, shred any mail or documents that have sensitive information, be careful with your passwords and credit card info when buying online, shred or keep receipts in a safe place, and don't carry your Social Security card