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By Gabrielle Olya
Special to Village News 

Protecting personal finances is more important than ever

 

Last updated 7/9/2018 at 3:23pm



Over 2.5 million people in the U.S. become victims of unauthorized credit card activity and identity theft every year, according to credit card review site RewardExpert.com. While this issue is nationwide, residents of some states are experiencing higher than average incidences. According to GOBankingRates.com, the list of 20 states most at-risk for credit card fraud and identity theft takes into account the incidence rates of reports for both, as well as year-over-year trends.The top 10 states are:

Washington, at No. 10, has undergone a tech boom in recent years, which could explain why the state has one of the highest rates of credit card fraud perpetrated using the internet: nine per every 100,000 residents. The incidence of credit fraud has increased about 10 percent from 2015 to 2016, and there were 555 reports of fraud per every 100,000 residents in 2016.

Next, Illinois has one of the highest rates of identity theft in the U.S., with 138 reports of ID theft per 100,000 residents. There was also a 12 percent increase in credit card fraud between 2015 and 2016, bringing the 2016 rate to 577 cases of credit card fraud per 100,000 residents.

Arizona’s high rate of unauthorized credit card activity could be due to its relatively high number of older residents, who are more vulnerable to fraud and theft, according to RewardExpert.com. There were 657 reports of credit card fraud per every 100,000 residents in the Southwestern state.

At No. 7 is Virginia. The incidence of credit card fraud increases with proximity to a metropolitan area, according to RewardExpert.com, so Virginia’s location near District of Columbia, could explain why it’s one of the most at-risk states. In 2016, the rate of credit card fraud was 701 reports per 100,000 residents, and the rate of identity theft was 104 reports per 100,000 residents.

Michigan is No. 6 and has the highest rate of identity theft in the nation, affecting 176 people per every 100,000 residents. It also has the third highest rate of credit card fraud, with 1,083 reports of fraud per every 100,000 residents. Fortunately, the incidences of fraud have been decreasing in the state, dropping 5 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Texas sits at No. 5 and has one of the highest rates of credit card fraud in the U.S., with 952 reports of fraud per every 100,000 residents. The frequency of fraud perpetrated using the internet is three per 100,000 residents.

Florida is No. 4. It has the highest rate of credit card fraud per capita: 1,306 cases of fraud per every 100,000 Floridians. Believe it or not, that’s actually an improvement from the previous year. The incidence of fraud in the state dropped 14 percent from 2015 to 2016.

At. No. 3, the average income per capita in New Mexico is on the lower end at $45,382, which means residents who are victims of credit card fraud or identity theft might be less equipped to handle the financial fallout that can follow compared to people in other states. The rate of credit card fraud in New Mexico increased 12 percent between 2015 and 2016, bringing the rate to 668 cases of fraud per every 100,000 residents.

California come in second and has one of the highest rates of identity theft in the U.S., with 140 cases of ID theft reported per every 100,000 residents. On the bright side, credit card fraud is declining, with a 5 percent drop in reports of fraud from 2015 to 2016.

Nevada is No. 1. It’s hard to believe that any state could have so many unauthorized credit card transactions, but blame it on the wild Vegas strip – Nevada has some of the highest rates of both credit card fraud, 872 reports per 100,000 residents, and identity theft, 136 reports per 100,000 residents. Living in this state is a gamble in more ways than one.

Unless otherwise noted, all state information was sourced from 2017 data provided by http://www.RewardExpert.com.

It’s important to note that whether someone lives in one of these states or somewhere else altogether, unauthorized transactions are a threat to everyone. Here is a look at four tips that could help protect against unauthorized credit card transactions.

First, utilize your credit card company’s security features and tools.

When choosing a credit card, look for a card that provides an extra layer of security. Many credit card companies monitor spending behavior so that they can detect when a transaction seems out of the ordinary. If a suspicious activity occurs, the credit card company might automatically freeze the account and send notify of the activity.

Many credit card companies now offer security tools to prevent unauthorized credit card transactions as well. For example, the Regions LockIt mobile app gives users the ability to turn on and off categories of card transactions as many times as they want, and provides real-time messaging when transactions are declined due to controls set by the user.

Next, don’t give account numbers to anyone over the phone.

This is especially true when receiving an unsolicited phone call asking for credit card information. Some callers will claim the person has won a vacation or other prize and will ask for credit card information in order to complete the transaction. Never give a credit card account number to an unknown organization or caller.

Don’t carry all personal credit cards in one wallet.

It’s best for people to only carry the credit cards they’re actually going to use at any one time. Keeping all of their credit cards in the same wallet or bag makes it that much easier for someone to attain all of their sensitive information if it gets lost or stolen. Keep only one or two cards in a wallet and leave the rest in a safe place. Additionally, consider using a secure mobile wallet app, storing credit card information digitally and making purchases with the app at participating locations.

Review credit card statements each month.

Keep receipts and compare them to the monthly statement to make sure all of the charges are correct. If there are transactions for an incorrect amount or charges that were not made, report them right away to the credit card company.

 

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