Top 10 States for Fraud Complaints

April 4, 2011

Where you live plays a role in how likely it is that you'll be a victim of fraud, and may even suggest the type of fraud criminals will commit. These 10 states rank the highest for fraud complaints, with victims losing an average of $594 to the crimes.

Where you live plays a role in how likely it is that you’ll be targeted for fraud, and may even suggest the type of fraud the criminals are most likely to commit.

Financial news and information website 24/7 Wall St. recently reviewed 2010 data from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book and ranked states by the prevalence of consumer complaints fraud and the types of fraud committed.

More than 1.3 million consumer fraud claims were filed in 2010, with victims losing more than $1.7 billion to the crimes, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. The study found that identity theft, debt collection scams, Internet service and lottery fraud were among the most prevalent crimes.

“Eighty-six percent of the consumers who reported a fraud-related complaint also reported an amount paid,” the report noted, indicating that some victims didn’t know how much the crimes cost them.

The 24/7 Wall St. ranking listed the 10 states with the largest percentage of total complaints per 100,000 people, noting that states with a large number of retirees tended to be high on the list. These 10 states rank the highest for complaints about fraud, with victims losing an average of $594 to the crimes.

1. Colorado.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 496.6.

Colorado had the highest rate of fraud complaints, excluding identity theft, 24/7 Wall St. reported. The state also has the highest rate of fraud relating to Internet services.

2. Florida.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 491.7.

Florida is the identity theft capital of the U.S., logging 114.8 complaints per 100,000 residents, according to 24/7 Wall St. Nearly a quarter were victims of government documents or government benefits fraud. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area had both the highest rate of identity theft complaints in the state and country.

3. Maryland.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 491.3.

Debt-collection fraud is the most common type of complaint in Maryland, 24/7 Wall St. reported, and the state had the second-highest level of fraud reports in total.

4. Nevada.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 488.

Nevada wasn’t near the top of states that reported identity theft and other types of consumer fraud complaints in sheer number, but its residents lost more money to the crimes than anywhere else in the U.S. Residents here lost an average of $3,434 in 2010 -- no other state residents reported losing more than $3,000 on average.

5. Arizona.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 477.9.

Arizona has the second-highest rate of identity theft complaints in the country and has the third-highest rate of fraud complaints involving debt collection and prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries, according to 24/7 Wall St.

6. California.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 435.4.

California has the third-highest incidence of identity theft fraud complaints in the country, behind Florida and Arizona, 24/7 Wall St. said. The state also had the highest number of consumer complaints in total, with 162,220 consumer complaints reported in 2010.

7. Washington.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 435.3.

Washington has one of the highest rates of complaints involving Internet service fraud, second only to Colorado. 24/7 Wall St. cited the state’s Mount Vernon-Anacortes metropolitan area, which has the third highest rate of consumer complaints in the country, or 678.7 complaints for every 100,000 residents.

8. Delaware.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 435.

A quarter of all identity theft crimes reported in Delaware involved phone or utilities fraud in 2010, the same percentage as in Ohio. No other states even come close to this level. Delaware also has the greatest rate of debt collection complaints in the country, with 69.8 complaints per 100,000 residents, according to 24/7 Wall St.

9. Alaska.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 432.7.

Alaska ranks highest in the country for complaints about prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries, 24/7 Wall St. reported. It is the 14th lowest in the number of identity theft complaints, the most commonly reported type of fraud complaint in the U.S.

10. Georgia.Complaints Per 100,000 Residents: 419.4.Fraud having to do with government documents or government benefits was the greatest area of consumer complaints in Georgia, according to 24/7 Wall St. The state tied with Alabama and Mississippi for the highest percentage of this type of fraud for a state. Georgia also has the fourth-highest level of identity theft complaints in the nation.

Read 24/7 Wall St. complete analysis here.