ID theft: Where you live makes a difference, study says

Faulkton S.D. has a population of 800 and virtually no crime to speak of. Yet the citizens of this rural town are second only to the people in Floral Park, N.Y. when it comes to being at risk for having their identities stolen.

That's just one of the findings of a study released Wednesday by San Diego, Calif.-based risk management firm ID Analytics Inc., which looked at U.S. identity fraud rates by geography.

Topping the list as the riskiest states for ID theft are New York, California, Nevada and Arizona, while the safest ones are Wyoming, Vermont, Montana and North Dakota. The riskiest 5-digit zip codes for ID theft -- after Floral Park and Faulkton -- are Old Bethpage, N.Y., New York City and Manhasset, N.Y.

The ID Analytics report is based on a study of over one million fraud events as indicated by fraudulent applications for credit using stolen identity data. The findings can help pinpoint specific areas where criminals may be operating in an organized fashion, said Stephen Coggeshall, CTO at ID Analytics and the author of the report. "We think it can provide valuable information for a variety of people," including financial institutions, retailers and law enforcement, he said.

The report could also tell consumers "if they live in a high identity fraud area," he said.

The ID Analytics study is so detailed that it can pinpoint specific addresses associated with a high-level of identity theft risk, he said. "Whether these are victims or perpetrators of ID theft is not 100% clear," Coggeshall said. But there are "strong indicators" that a majority of these addresses are associated with perpetrators, he said.