The holidays may bring tidings of joy, but they also bring an increased risk of identity theft and data breaches.
To date, 2015 has seen 717 breaches, with access to more than 176 million records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Data Breach Report. making it more important than ever to take steps to secure your financial information online. To determine which states are most vulnerable to these hacks, WalletHub analyzed the total number of identity theft complaints per 100,000 residents and the total cybercrime-related dollar losses per capita, among other factors.
The results? Residents of Nevada, Florida, and the District of Columbia are most susceptible to data breaches, while South Dakota, Hawaii, and Maine are the least vulnerable. Overall, South Dakota had the fewest complaints per capita for identity theft, credit card fraud, and government documents or government benefits fraud, while Florida had the most in all three categories.
The main takeaway from the report is that people need to remain extra vigilant about monitoring their accounts, and be proactive in resolving any red flags they find, rather than waiting on their banks or the authorities to notify them of any wrong-doing. The truth is that everyone is vulnerable, no matter where they live.
"I think people need to get used to the idea that their Social Security number and personal information will probably be compromised in the next few years. It may have already happened," Matthew D. Green, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, told WalletHub.
"What people need to do individually is monitor their credit," Green continued.
To fight against identity theft, WalletHub encourages people to step-up email security with an "especially secure password" and two-step authentication, and to leverage account alerts for all financial accounts.
Residents of Florida, Georgia, and D.C., should get an extra layer of protection when filing tax forms by applying for a six-digit personal identification number that they will submit along with their Social Security number on documents. You'll get a new PIN every year and this number will alert the IRS to more carefully review your account. To get a PIN, you need to register and verify your identity online. You can sign up on the IRS website.
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Rates are subject to change. All information provided here is accurate as of the publish date.