In every state, in almost every category, fraud is on the rise — and it’s costing people billions of dollars. Our team of analysts found that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, fraud reports have increased by more than 30%, ultimately costing Americans more than $2.3 billion dollars in 2020.

Key findings:

  • Fraud cost Americans more than $2.3 billion in 2020, a 97% increase over 2019.
  • Fraud reports increased by 30.1% in the last year.
  • Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois had the largest increases in fraud-related losses.
  • Mississippi, Arkansas and Alaska had the largest increases in fraud reports.
  • Job opportunity and credit bureau scams are the fastest-rising categories of fraud.

From millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, the increase in fraud has affected every state differently. Nebraska saw the largest increase in fraud-related losses, while California had the highest total loss (over $400 million) and North Dakota lost around $3 million.

The cost of fraud in each state
Rank State % increase in dollars lost 2019-2020 Total loss in 2020
1 Nebraska 193.2% $12,900,000
2 South Dakota 180.0% $4,200,000
3 Illinois 159.9% $93,300,000
4 Utah 157.0% $23,900,000
5 Hawaii 151.6% $15,600,000
6 Arizona 138.0% $69,500,000
7 Nevada 137.0% $36,500,000
8 Washington 134.5% $68,700,000
9 Wisconsin 124.2% $34,300,000
10 North Carolina 121.8% $72,100,000
11 Florida 119.8% $199,400,000
12 Georgia 118.9% $71,800,000
13 New Mexico 115.9% $24,400,000
14 New Jersey 115.5% $71,100,000
15 Virginia 114.2% $72,600,000
16 Michigan 113.0% $57,500,000
17 California 111.9% $400,900,000
18 South Carolina 107.1% $35,200,000
19 New York 102.9% $169,800,000
20 Pennsylvania 100.8% $74,700,000
21 Oregon 100.6% $32,100,000
22 Texas 99.1% $203,100,000
23 Alabama 97.7% $25,900,000
24 Maryland 96.8% $55,100,000
25 Indiana 96.3% $31,600,000
26 Tennessee 96.1% $40,600,000
27 Minnesota 93.7% $36,800,000
28 Louisiana 92.0% $21,500,000
29 Oklahoma 85.3% $18,900,000
30 Iowa 81.9% $17,100,000
31 Ohio 79.6% $58,000,000
32 Maine 78.8% $5,900,000
33 Wyoming 78.3% $4,100,000
34 Colorado 74.9% $50,900,000
35 Connecticut 74.8% $24,300,000
36 Rhode Island 70.8% $4,100,000
37 Massachusetts 58.5% $40,900,000
38 Vermont 56.5% $3,600,000
39 Delaware 54.2% $9,100,000
40 Kentucky 47.7% $15,800,000
41 Kansas 47.5% 14,900,000
42 Missouri 43.9% $40,300,000
43 Arkansas 43.8% $13,800,000
44 Montana 43.6% $5,600,000
45 West Virginia 42.4% $9,400,000
46 Mississippi 39.0% $10,700,000
47 Idaho 37.0% $10,000,000
48 New Hampshire 21.2% $6,300,000
49 North Dakota 11.1% $3,000,000
50 Alaska 9.6% $5,700,000

While some states experienced sharp increases in the overall dollar amount lost to fraud, others saw rapid increases in the number of fraud reports. We found 20 states where instances of fraud increased by 20% or more. Six states saw decreases in fraud reports but also had some of the biggest increases in fraud-related losses.

States where fraud is growing the fastest
State % increase in fraud reports 2019-2020 % increase in dollars lost 2019-2020
Mississippi 60.9% 39.0%
Arkansas 57.5% 43.8%
Alaska 42.7% 9.6%
Hawaii 39.6% 151.6%
Vermont 38.0% 56.5%
Pennsylvania 37.5% 100.8%
Massachusetts 37.0% 58.5%
Texas 36.9% 99.1%
Virginia 36.5% 114.2%
New Jersey 36.2% 115.5%
Delaware 36.2% 54.2%
Rhode Island 36.0% 70.8%
Tennessee 35.2% 96.1%
Illinois 34.8% 159.9%
Louisiana 34.8% 92.0%
Alabama 34.7% 97.7%
Maryland 33.6% 96.8%
Florida 33.6% 119.8%
Georgia 33.4% 118.9%
Kansas 32.2% 47.5%
New Mexico 30.9% 115.9%
Washington -5.8% 134.5%
Montana -10.5% 43.6%
Oregon -10.8% 100.6%
Idaho -14.0% 37.0%
California -17.8% 111.9%
Utah -43.6% 157.0%

Fraud is a broad type of crime, but scams usually fall into one of the categories listed in the table below. Job opportunity, identity theft and credit bureau scams are the fastest-growing types of fraud. But we found an increase in almost every category.

Fraud by Category
Category 2019 reports 2020 reports % increase 2019-2020
Identity theft 650,523 1,387,614 113%
Imposter scams 663,946 502,829 -24%
Credit bureaus 165,524 364,783 120%
Online shopping scams 178,863 316,944 77%
Banks and lenders 155,894 175,552 12%
Debt collectors 137,710 146,932 7%
Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries 125,181 126,710 1%
Internet and computer services 87,404 122,302 39%
Auto-related 121,628 116,391 -4%
Business and job opportunities 36,917 88,322 139%

The marked increase in fraud can be directly tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Criminals have used identity theft scams to take advantage of unemployment programs, stimulus payments and other newly created government relief efforts while also preying on people’s financial struggles through job opportunity and credit bureau scams.

A full list of things you can do to protect yourself from identity-theft-related fraud as well as information on identity theft insurance are available on our identity theft guide. There, you can also find a list of how each state has been affected by the increase in identity theft.

Methodology:

This report was compiled using fraud reports sent to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network. Fraud reports were then broken down by state and compared year to year.