Identity theft: Florida ranks No. 1 in nation for ID theft

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission's 2012 Consumer Sentinel Network report, (http://1.usa.gov/1213fo1) Florida ranks No. 1 for identity theft among the 50 states, with 361.3 complaints per 100,000 people.

That's 86 percent more than Georgia, which ranks a distant second. Also, nine of the top 10 metro areas for identity theft are in Florida, according to the report. First is the Miami area with 645.4 complaints per 100,000 people.

Florida's high rate of identity theft complaints could be a result of its transient population, large number of tourists and high percentage of elderly people — all groups that are particularly vulnerable targets, according to fraud experts at Equifax.

Also, states and metro areas that have had surges in unemployment and/or foreclosures may be at risk for more identity theft, as people who feel desperate may be more likely to participate in identity theft scams to get quick cash.

Two legislators from Florida, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, have recently introduced legislation to help curb the problem of identity theft.

Two high-profile Florida identity theft cases:

In 2010, a mail carrier in Florida was gunned down by members of an identity theft ring who stole his master key as part of a scheme to claim people's tax refunds.

In December 2012, a former U.S. Marine from Miami was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for stealing the identities of 40 fellow Marines in Afghanistan.

Top 10 states for identity theft:
1. Florida
2. Georgia
3. California
4. Michigan
5. New York
6. Nevada
7. Texas
8. Arizona
9. Maryland
10. Alabama

If you are the victim of identity theft, click here to download the Attorney General's Florida Identity Theft Victim's Kit  ( http://bit.ly/14BsrqI).

According to the FTC report, the following metropolitan areas ranked highest for identity theft complaints, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012:

1 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL
2 Naples-Marco Island, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
3 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
4 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
5 Tallahassee, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
6 Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
7 Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
8 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area
9 North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area
10 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area 

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