More than one-third of Maine residents responding to a survey on crime said they had been a victim of identity theft—partly as a result of an increase in corporate data breaches and smaller-scale scams—according to a report published by the Muskie School of Social Service at the University of Southern Maine and the Maine Statistical Analysis Center Advisory Group.
The rate of victimization for identity crime represents a 15 percent increase from the last survey conducted in Maine in 2011, write Robyn Dumont and George Shaler in a study entitled “2015 Maine Crime Victimization Report: Informing Public Policy for Safer Communities.” They attribute the increase to “the large number of people who are affected when corporate data breaches occur as well as to the increased frequency of these breaches” and to the fact that the 2015 survey featured three additional answer choices about identity theft—including a question about “unauthorized access of bank or department store accounts.”
“Identity crime continues to capture headlines here in Maine and nationally,” the authors write. “With a large elderly population, Maine is especially vulnerable to perpetrators who specialize in identity theft crimes.”
The survey includes responses from 843 people, more than half of whom said they had been victimized within the past year. The victimization rate for identity theft was 36.4 percent, followed by property crime at 15. 1 percent and stalking at 14.4 percent.
Despite an apparent increase in identity crime, 91 percent of the survey participants feel safe in their communities, the report states. But the majority of respondents (79.2 percent) said they believe drug abuse contributes most to crime.
The full report is available HERE.