Tampa, FL -- Bad news heading into the holidays. Real life Grinches are out there looking to steal your identity.
And a new study from the website Wallethub.com says Florida is one of the worst in the nation.
“It was a big hassle,” said Robert D’avanzo, who remembers what he had to go through when someone stole his identity.
D’avanzo spent several frustrating months with plenty of headaches before he finally got his good name back.
“It was a big pain, but I eventually got it taken off my credit report,” he said.
So, it doesn't surprise D’avanzo that the study found Florida to be one of the worst in the nation when it comes to ID theft.
In fact, the sunshine state came in at number one in the key category of ID fraud claims per capita.
“You know, it’s one of the best places to retire. So, lots of gullible elderly people,” said Jo Donald, who says she does all she can to protect her personal info.
While losing some money or damaged credit might be bad enough, it can get worse.
A recent survey, victims found that in about one out of eight cases, the person who stole their ID, then went on to commit a crime. Now, the person whose identity was stolen, finds out there’s an arrest warrant – in their name.
“Oh that would be terrible,” said Andrea Zelman, who told us friends of hers had been through an ID theft nightmare.
Wallethub says another strike against Florida is that it’s not one of the 11 states where victims can apply for an official ID theft passport. That’s a government-issued document letting cops and creditors know you’ve been a victim of ID theft in case of credit confusion or false accusations.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says the passport is an okay idea, but if a driver’s license or Social Security card can be duplicated, so can an ID theft passport.
“It's a tough spot for us. We're going to do all we can to make sure you are who you are,” said HCSO spokesman Larry McKinnon. “Anything you can do to help prove who you are, that helps us as well.”
Wallethub does offer advice:
- Secure your email accounts by changing passwords.
- Sign up for credit monitoring
- Don't share too much info on social media
While Florida does not offer an ID Theft Passport, the Attorney General's office has come up with a "theft victim kit" which offers all kinds of advice and steps to take if your ID has been compromised.