* My bank shut down my debit card last month because somebody tried to withdraw money from my account in Portland, Oregon. I’ve always wanted to go to Portland, but never have. Some of my money did, though. They successfully withdrew $88 from an ATM machine and then the bank locked down my card. The bank told me the fraudsters somehow had my pin number, which I never share and don’t even have written down.
Credit card fraud is at an all-time high. That’s according to the Federal Trade Commission’s latest Consumer Sentinel Data Book, which tracks and summarizes consumer complaints about fraud, identity theft, and other consumer concerns. In 2017, there were 133,015 reports of credit card fraud across the United States—nearly a 7 percent increase over the year prior. This trend corresponds with a simultaneous sharp rise in data breaches where personal information was compromised. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, 2017 represented an all-time high of 1,579 data breaches—a nearly 48 percent increase over 2016’s 1,091.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines credit card fraud as the “unauthorized use of a credit or debit card, or similar payment tool (ACH, EFT, recurring charge, etc.), to fraudulently obtain money or property.” Interestingly, the Federal Trade Commission categorizes credit card fraud as a type of identity theft, since it can only be accomplished by stealing credit card numbers, usually by means of an identity theft scheme.
The risk to individuals isn’t spread evenly across states. Instances of credit card fraud range from a low of 17 per 100,000 residents in Mississippi to a high of 81 per 100,000 residents in Washington D.C. The average across all states is just under 33 per 100,000 residents.
There is a slight positive correlation between median household income and instances of credit card fraud per 100,000 residents. This suggests that higher-income states are potentially more attractive to scammers, representing a better chance of “striking gold.”
Median household income is also positively correlated with the percentage of identity theft cases that are credit card fraud. In other words, credit card fraud appears to be occurring more frequently relative to other types of identity theft in higher-income states. This again might be due to the high payout attached to a successful scheme on a wealthy resident. This trend could also be explained by lower credit card approval rates in states with higher levels of poverty.
Higher levels of poverty also correspond to lower rates of credit card fraud. This may be attributable to lower credit card approval rates, ownership, and credit limits in less wealthy states.
* As the headline says, Illinois ranked 6th…
Credit card fraud complaints: 48 per 100,000 residents
Total identity theft complaints: 130 per 100,000 residents
Credit card fraud percent of total ID theft complaints: 39%
Household median income: $60,960
Percent below poverty level: 13%