Personal Finance

People in this state are at the highest risk for identity theft

Key Points
  • Nevada is the top state for fraud and identity theft, according to WalletHub’s analysis of consumer complaints and reported losses.
  • At least 32 states have laws that require entities to destroy personal information in order to prevent theft.
  • Keep good web hygiene and use strong passwords to protect your own data.
Praetorian photo | Getty Images

Residents of Nevada should think twice before they jump on an unsecured Wi-Fi network to do their online shopping.

That's because the Silver State ranks number one in the country with the most identity theft and fraud, according to a study by WalletHub.

The personal finance site analyzed identity theft and fraud complaints per capita, as well as reported losses due to this criminal activity and state legislation to protect consumers.

Based on that, WalletHub ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

More from Personal Finance:
Getting Medicare Part D right
Two ways to defray this retirement risk
Defrauded student borrowers to get debt relief at last

The study showed that last year Nevada had about 128 identity theft complaints per capita. The average amount of money lost due to online identity theft was about $13,500 in the Silver State, according to Jill Gonzalez, a senior analyst at WalletHub.

The state also had 770 fraud complaints per capita last year, and the median amount lost due to fraud was $500, she said.

Florida, New Jersey, Delaware and California round out the top five with the most identity theft and fraud reported.

The state with the fewest reported per capita incidents is Hawaii.

Growing vulnerability

Not only have social media platforms experienced data breaches in recent months, large retailers as well have been under attack by hackers.

Half of the U.S. retail IT security managers participating in a study by Thales eSecurity reported they had experienced a data breach in the last year.

State legislation

Another metric WalletHub had measured in its state ranking list was the availability of laws to protect residents' data.

Though all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow consumers to place a security freeze on their credit reports, only 33 permit parents, legal guardians and other representatives of minors to place a freeze on children's credit reports, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Meanwhile, 32 states require that individuals or businesses destroy or at least render unreadable individuals' personal data, the NCSL found.

State laws notwithstanding, consumers should take the extra step of protecting their own information.

See below for a few steps you can take to safeguard your information.

Watch this Russian hacker break into our computer and take complete control in minutes
Watch this hacker break into our computer in minutes