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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Jim Kouri
Bio: Jim Kouri
Date:  July 12, 2006
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Top 10 Cities to Have Your Identity Stolen; 10 Cities with Least Risk

Ever hear of "iJacking?" Well, read this column and find out about it.

by Jim Kouri, CPP

Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another individual's personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.

Unlike fingerprints, which are unique to an individual and cannot be given to someone else for their use, personal data -- especially Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers, telephone calling card numbers, and other valuable identifying data -- can be used by someone to personally profit at the victim's expense.

Unauthorized persons take funds out of others' bank or financial accounts or take over their identities altogether, running up debts and committing crimes while using the victims' names. A victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but additional costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information about his financial or personal status.

The phenomenon of iJacking -- a new term created by a company named Intersections Inc. to encompass the far reaching financially and emotionally devastating impact of having thieves assume your identity or use your Social Security number to commit fraud -- is found to be an alarming problem with clear geographic and socioeconomic divides for cities at risk. With identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission topping 250,000 last year, Sperling's Best Places finds the San Francisco Bay Area to be the most at risk area for iJacking

In fact nine of the top ten cities most at risk for iJacking are on the West Coast, while the majority of the safest cities fall to the East.

- San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, San Jose, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Phoenix are all among the top ten most at risk cities.

- Eastern cities like Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New Orleans, Providence, Rochester and Virginia Beach are among the safest.

The study also finds a correlation between transaction rates and affluence, showing that those with the most to lose are also at the most risk for losing it.

- San Jose, San Francisco and Washington DC all rank in the top ten in transaction rates and also have the highest number of households making over $250,000.

- On the other hand, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and San Antonio are among the lowest cities in transaction rates and also have the lowest number of households making over $250,000.

A combination of high ATM use, Internet use and purchasing habits make the West Coast the most dangerous region for iJacking. San Francisco ranks in the top percentile for technology risk factors, which include frequency of online banking, purchasing and overall time spent online.

San Jose ranks in the 98th percentile and Denver in the 81st percentile. Conversely, Birmingham (ranked 47th out of 50) ranks in the bottom percentile, while Pittsburgh and San Antonio (ranked 50th and 35th) rank in the second and fourth percentile respectively.

Meanwhile, larger markets like Los Angeles and Dallas Fort Worth are at a higher overall risk, ranking number 13th and 14th respectively. While larger markets in the East, including New York and Philadelphia, which rank 29th and 30th, are markedly safer.

Sperling's Best Places, which ranks cities based on a number of factors, conducted a study of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States and gauged the cities at the highest and lowest risk for identity theft or iJacking.

TEN MOST RISKY CITIES 1) San Francisco 2) Seattle 3) Denver 4) San Jose 5) San Diego 6) Atlanta 7) Salt Lake City 8) Las Vegas 9) Sacramento 10) Phoenix

TEN LEAST RISKY CITIES 41) Rochester 42) Providence 43) Cincinnati 44) Cleveland 45) Virginia Beach 46) New Orleans 47) Birmingham 48) Louisville 49) Buffalo 50) Pittsburgh

"Nearly every day, there are new reports of sensitive personal information being lost or stolen," said Bert Sperling, president of Sperling's Best Places. "What we found in our research is an alarming number of risk factors, from ATM to credit card use, that put nearly everyone at risk for iJacking."

Frequent ATM use, dining out and credit card use all contribute to a higher overall risk for iJacking. Cities like Boston, San Francisco, Sacramento and Seattle have higher transaction rates than lower risk cities like Memphis, Buffalo and New Orleans.

"No matter where your city falls on this study, one thing is abundantly clear, iJacking is a very real danger and consumers need to take immediate action to protect themselves," said Michael Stanfield, chairman and CEO of Intersections Inc.

"Unlike traditional crimes where prevention can be achieved through simple behavioral changes, like parking a car in the garage to avoid carjacking, consumers are challenged to keep vigilant watch over all aspects of their identity."

Identity Thieves Have Many Ways to Commit Identity Fraud

iJacking is a new breed of crime with multiple risk factors. For this study alone, Sperling's Best Places analyzed over 80 contributing risk factors ranging from Internet and credit card use to household income and methamphetamine rates.

Even in cities ranking lower on the riskiest cities list, there are dangers:

- Providence ranks 30th overall and Rochester 33rd overall, but they are in the 96th and 92nd percentiles respectively in at risk behavior like harboring debt and having large numbers of financial accounts.

- San Antonio is among the safest cities for iJacking, yet still ranks in the 47th percentile in lifestyle risk factors including crime, methamphetamine and other factors.

Complete Rankings

1) San Francisco 2) Seattle 3) Denver 4) San Jose 5) San Diego 6) Atlanta 7) Salt Lake City 8) Las Vegas 9) Sacramento 10) Phoenix 11) Portland 12) Washington 13) Dallas-Fort Worth 14) Riverside 15) Los Angeles 16) Chicago 17) Minneapolis-St. Paul 18) Austin 19) Charlotte 20) Orlando 21) Indianapolis 22) Houston 23) Miami 24) Detroit 25) Baltimore 26) Boston 27) Kansas City 28) Hartford 29) New York 30) Philadelphia 31) Columbus 32) Tampa 33) Oklahoma City 34) St. Louis 35) San Antonio 36) Milwaukee 37) Jacksonville 38) Richmond 39) Memphis 40) Nashville 41) Rochester 42) Providence 43) Cincinnati 44) Cleveland 45) Virginia Beach 46) New Orleans 47) Birmingham 48) Louisville 49) Buffalo 50) Pittsburgh

(Special thanks to Jim Gordon, Asst. Executive Director of Information & Publications of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, for providing valuable information for this column.)

Jim Kouri
Chief of Police Magazine (Contributing Editor)

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Biography - Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com,, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.

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Copyright 2006 by Jim Kouri
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