Kansas and Rhode Island suffered the most identity thefts in 2020
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people lost jobs in the United States. Fraudsters did not hesitate to use this panic to claim unemployment insurance instead of the ones that needed it the most, and some states were not prepared at all.
According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, Kansas and Rhode Island states experienced the most identity thefts in 2020. The majority of the thefts were being used to apply or receive government benefits such as stimulus checks or unemployment compensation.
The number of identity theft reports is based upon the data provided by the Insurance Information Institute and adapted by Atlas VPN analysts.
The most targeted State by scammers in the US was Kansas, as there were 1,485 identity theft reports per 100,000 population. The main reason for such a number was the failed unemployment system that allowed fraudsters to claim compensations instead of jobless people easily. This failure cost the State about $400 million.
The second most identity thefts were reported in Rhode Island, with a total of 1,191 cases. A very similar issue as in Kansas happened here as well, where scammers used vulnerabilities in the system to file claims for unemployment checks. In the last year, in Rhode Island, 43% of the unemployment insurance claims were suspected or confirmed to be fraud.
Illinois ranks third with 1,073 impersonation reports per 100,000 population. Even though Illinois is the nation's sixth-most populous state, it had the second-most total number of cases — 135,038.
Nevada is the fourth State based on the number of identity theft reports with an overall of 726 cases. In the fifth spot comes Washington that reported 705 identity thefts per 100,000 population.
Identity theft types
During the pandemic, scammers mainly used weaknesses in the government’s administrations that were supposed to help those in need. However, there are plenty of other types of fraudulent crimes that were done with stolen identities.
By no surprise, government benefits, including unemployment compensation and stimulus check frauds, made up 32% of all reports. The surge in these reports happened due to the worldwide pandemic. Such scams happen when criminals are using stolen identities to collect benefits across multiple states fraudulently.
The second most reported identity thefts were credit card fraud — new accounts with 30% of all reports. This type of crime occurs when a fraudster steals your credit card to make purchases, open new accounts, or even take out a loan in your name. Such theft could seriously harm a person’s financial and personal life.
Miscellaneous identity theft was the third most reported type. It constituted 23% of all identity theft reports in 2020. This category includes online shopping, payment account fraud, email and social media fraud, medical services, insurance, securities account fraud, and other types of identity theft.
Next up, we have business or personal loan fraud that made up 8% of all identity thefts. During the pandemic, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been issuing loans to give financial help to small businesses. In the meantime, criminals have been trying to take advantage of the system by using stolen information to get loans in someone else’s name.
The least — 7% of identity thefts were tax fraud. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
As data shows, some states were not ready to deal with the increased unemployment rate, and scammers used it for their benefit. Due to vulnerabilities found in the government system, people suffered from different types of identity theft. Some states should take necessary security steps immediately to minimize the risks of impersonation in the future.