ID theft soars in rural US

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ID theft soars in rural US

ID thieves are increasingly targeting US individuals living in rural communities, new research warns.

According to a new study by risk management firm ID Analytics, US identity fraud hot spots include the cities of Springfield, Illinois; and Bozeman and Missoula, Montana.

In fact, Montana makes multiple appearances in the top ten list: at number four with Whitefish, five with Lolo, seven with Hamilton and eight with Bigfork. Bismark, North Dakota takes the number six slot, with Grand Forks and Fargo, also both in North Dakota, taking the ninth and tenth positions.

The US counties that emerged as hot spots in the last year include 13 counties in North Dakota and seven counties in Montana. The research also showed that in general identity fraud rates are increasing in the upper Midwest, Northern California, Utah, Nevada and Maine.

Identity fraud rates appear to be decreasing in the Southern US and staying consistent in such areas as Southern California, the Mexican border of Texas and in cities like Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.

"These findings may seem surprising because none of these emerging hot spots are high population density areas, and some are even rural," said Stephen Coggeshall, ID Analytics' chief technology officer and the author of the research.

"Our methodology allowed us to compare fraud rates across areas with differing populations to see where fraud is rising most quickly on a per capita basis.

While identity fraud rates remain high in many large metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles and Detroit, we are seeing substantial emergence of these crimes in more rural areas like Montana and South Dakota.

"This may indicate a trend toward popularisation of this crime, as well as point out that perpetrators are discovering that they can act under the radar in these remote rural areas."

The research, which is based on actual and attempted frauds rather than on consumer victim reports, examined data from January through December 2006.
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