Montana ID Scam Rate Low, But Could be Better
Montana is doing a lot better than other states when it comes to not falling for identity theft.
But we have a real trouble spot when it comes to credit card scams, which have soared to twice as many cases as other forms of identity theft.
That's the upshot of the latest numbers from the Federal Trade Commission, based on the number of consumer complaints that surfaced through the first half of 2023. And those statistics show an alarming trend. Nationally, ID theft complaints are higher than in any "pre-pandemic year", dating all the way back to 2001.
Things got really bad during COVID
Nationally, the FTC and other state agencies, like the Montana Attorney General's Office, noticed a sharp spike in identity scams during the pandemic as thieves preyed on people's uncertainty. But the latest numbers show the trend isn't slowing down.
Money.com reported this week that the FTC says there were over 560,000 cases of identity theft, of all kinds, through the first two quarters of 2023, and that will likely top 1 million by year's end. And five areas have the largest problem with scammers, led by Washington, D.C. with a ratio of 261 theft complaints per 100,000 residents. The others are Georgia, Florida, Nevada, and Delaware.
Montana is better at resisting than most
By comparison, Montana is in the Bottom 5, with 53 complaints per 100,000 people. Only Wyoming and West Virginia have a lower rate.
However, where Montana's are getting "taken", we're being slammed hard. The FTC says of the 567 reports in Montana through July, nearly half (207) were for credit card fraud. That was followed by "other identity theft" with 115 cases, loan or lease fraud with 104, and bank fraud with 102 complaints.
Employment or tax fraud, phone or utilities and government documents, and benefits theft round out the list.
And it seems like every day we're hearing of new scams to be on guard for. This week, the Missoula County Sheriff's Office warned that scammers are apparently calling potential jurors and demanding payment for not "showing up.'
If you want to learn about protecting yourself against identity theft, the FTC has an informative website. In Montana, the Attorney General's Office has been aggressively fighting theft and fraud for years with useful information online. And other state agencies, like the Department of Labor and Industries, have also provided specific types of ID theft education.