With the nation still reeling from one of the largest cyberattacks it has ever seen, people are wondering whether their personal information is safe.
The data breach announced in September at Equifax, one of the nation’s three credit reporting giants, is estimated to affect at least 143 million U.S. consumers. But personal-finance website WalletHub points out in a recent report that the Equifax breach was just one of thousands affecting Americans this year.
“In fact ... 2017 is on track to register the highest number of data breaches since the center began tracking them in 2005,” the report says.
The report looked at eight key metrics to rank the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their vulnerability to identity theft and fraud.
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The weightiest of those metrics are identity theft and fraud complaints per capita, and average loss amount due to fraud and online identity theft. Adding in some factors related to policies that address such crimes, each state was given a single numerical score.
The results show California, Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Florida and Georgia as the five most vulnerable places to identity theft and fraud. The five least vulnerable are Iowa, West Virginia, Hawaii, Wyoming and Kansas.
North Carolina came in as the 18th worst state for identity theft and fraud, and many of its neighbors were also close by on the list. South Carolina is shown as the 12th worst, Tennessee is No. 22, and Virginia is No. 26.
People can find out if they were affected by the Equifax breach by visiting equifaxsecurity2017.com and clicking on the “Potential Impact” tab. The site also gives U.S. users the chance to sign up for a year of free credit monitoring – regardless of whether their information was exposed in the breach.
The Federal Trade Commission also recommends several steps to help people protect themselves after a data breach, including monitoring credit card and bank accounts closely and filing taxes early.