South Florida #1 in U.S. for identity theft

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - A new report from the Federal Trade Commission has found South Florida is 'number one' when it comes to the fastest growing crime in America. Identity theft occurs every three seconds, and too often it is happening in the Sunshine State. It was the top complaint of American consumers in 2013.

Jacie Keeley of Delray Beach does not know where or when it happened to her. "No idea," she said. "A very smart and clever person." Keeley said she was victimized in 2011 but did not find out about it until last year. The damage to her credit had already been done.

The new Federal Trade Commission report found the metropolitan area, that includes Palm Beach County, is the worst of the worst. For every 10,000 people, statistics show about 645 people fall victim.

"Florida really has a big target on it," said tech security expert Alan Crowetz, President and CEO of InfoStream, based in Palm Beach County. Crowetz says the large transient and tourist population may be boosting Florida's ID theft ranking. "You come here, you are on public Wi-Fi and unknown hotels," he said. "If someone rips you off, the next day, you may not even be in the same city any more."

ID thieves act fast and often prey on older, less tech-savvy people. Crowetz says that could be another vulnerability for Florida - reflected in the FTC findings. "This isn't just a potential threat," he said. "This is really happening right here in our area."

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, experts say, you have to act quickly. On average, once an identity is stolen, it will be used approximately 30 times.

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