Identity theft in Alabama rises drastically in 2022
The state ranks 8th in the entire country for percentage increase compared to 2019.
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - While costs are rising with gas and inflation, identity theft is skyrocketing, especially in the state of Alabama.
It’s a nationwide issue that is getting worse, with a new report from QuoteWizard by Lending Tree, detailing some of the rapid increases since 2019.
For Alabama, it’s one of the top 10 worst increases in the United States, with the state ranking 8th in the number of identity cases since the turn of the decade.
From 1,630 reports in 2019, to 2022 thus far seeing a total of 5,198, it equals out to a 219% increase.
Alabama is not the only dealing with the issue. Cases in Louisiana are up 396% in the same time frame, Mississippi cases are up 252%, Florida up 175%, and Georgia seeing an uptick of 122%.
The report, based on data from the FTC, says 35 states in the US have seen a 100%+ increase in identity theft in 2022 as compared to 2019. The only two states reporting a less than 50% increase are Maine (46%) and New Hampshire (32%).
These identity theft reports range from credit card fraud, loan/lease fraud, phone/utilities fraud, bank fraud, employment/tax-related fraud, and government documents/benefits fraud.
Most of the increases are directly tied to government documents/benefits fraud, most of it relating to actions taken during the pandemic. Criminals were able to use the worldwide health event and the influx of more people online to easily get hold of personal information. Most scammers using it to steal benefits related to unemployment, stimulus payments, and other newly formed government relief efforts.
Bank fraud also saw major increases, with 293% more cases in 2022 compared to 2019. For the government documents or benefits fraud category, it was a 270% increase, going from 5,707 cases in 2019 to 21,444 in 2022.
While there are plenty of steps you can take to further protect your own identity, such as identity theft insurance, here are some of the steps you should take if you believe you are a victim of identity theft:
- Check your credit score through the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act allows you to get a free report once a year from any of the three credit bureaus. There are other credit monitoring services available, but they tend to be more limited in capability.
- Get a free ID theft and recovery plan and theft report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Dispute any and all fraudulent information in your credit reports. If you provide your creditors with an official identity theft report, debt collectors usually are prohibited from contacting you regarding theft-related debts once you send them a letter to desist.
- Contact Equifax, Experian or TransUnion for a free fraud alert. You do not have to apply for an alert with all three agencies. If you notify one of them, they will alert the other two. A fraud alert can be active for up to seven years.
- Place a credit freeze. As of September 2018, consumers are allowed to freeze and unfreeze their credit reports at no cost. Freezing your credit report prevents anyone, including you, from accessing your credit reports. This can help prevent identity thieves from opening false accounts in your name.
And of course, contact your local law enforcement who can further assist you in stopping any false actions being done under your name.
Copyright 2022 WTVY. All rights reserved.
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