Illinois reports most identity theft complaints per capita in 2021

Illinois reports most identity theft complaints per capita in 2021

A WalletHub study found Illinois had more identity theft per person than anywhere else in the nation. It overall ranked as the 6th most vulnerable state to identity theft and fraud.

Illinoisans reported the most identity theft complaints per capita in the nation during 2021, more than 21 times the complaints filed in the state with the fewest reported cases, a new study found.

The WalletHub analysis of states most vulnerable to identity theft and fraud ranked Illinois 6th worst overall in the nation for its handling of the surge in fraudsters scamming residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington claimed the top spot while Iowa boasted the lowest identity theft and fraud rates.

The study comparing states across 14 metrics, including average loss amounts, fraud arrest rates and data disposal laws. It also found Illinois had the nation’s worst identify-theft passport program, which is intended to help identity theft victims regain control of their identities, avoid mistaken arrest and dispute fraudulent credit charges.

Fraud complaints per capita and existing state legislation allowing guardians to place a freeze on minors’ credit reports also ranked among the bottom half of states considered.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Americans filing jobless claims nationally has soared to historic highs, placing unprecedented stress on state unemployment systems.

Illinois found it was woefully unprepared for the deluge, with antiquated computer systems and a botched introduction of a $22 million fix that immediately exposed the Social Security numbers and other personal information of nearly 32,500 claimants. The information was used by identity thieves, according to multiple lawsuits.

Cybersecurity experts estimate the flood of imposter fraud, where criminals file fake claims in the names of real people, likely cost Illinois more than $1 billion.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has declined to release figures on how many Illinoisans reported being robbed of their unemployment benefits during the pandemic and how much money was stolen. Audits of IDES by federal watchdogs revealed the state agency was late to adopt free security tools that could have protected thousands of residents against fraud.

An audit of just the first seven weeks of federal unemployment programs found IDES gave about $155 million to fraudsters instead of Illinoisans. A comprehensive audit of the full 69-week period is currently underway.

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