Much attention is paid to the theft of personal information over the Internet, but the number-one cause for identity theft turns out to be old-fashioned loss of personal effects, according to Travelers.
A study released by the insurer says that in this era of digital information, 73 percent of cases of identity fraud result from burglary, stolen wallets and pilfered identifications. The study is based on Travelers claim data.
Travelers says “stolen or misplaced items, such as wallets and pocketbooks, accounted for the most common known causes for identity fraud.”
In second place was a stolen or compromised license, Social Security card or other form of personal identification.
Burglaries ranked third, followed by cyber breaches, including Internet scams and old-fashioned forgeries.
Travelers says that because identity thieves “acquire valuable personal information in less obvious ways,” such as sorting through trash for bank statements and pre-approved credit card applications, only 10 percent of survey respondents could identify who the thief was.
“When everyday essentials, like wallets or drivers licenses, are stolen or go missing, identity fraud often follows,” says Joe Reynolds, identity fraud product manager at Travelers. “Credit cards, driver licenses and other sources of personal information enable criminals to commit a fraud or crime all in your name.”
One piece of advice Reynolds offered is that consumers check their financial statements each month to detect any suspicious activity and contact their financial institution immediately.
Consumers should also protect themselves by:
• Only carry essential credit cards and keep critical documents in a safe and secure place.
• Avoid scams by not disclosing personal information if a consumer receives an unsolicited request.
• Shred old bills and financial statements.
• Store purses and wallets in a safe place.
• Do not print account information on an envelope of outgoing mail.
• Be careful when sharing personal information on social media.
• Check free credit report annually for the national credit reporting agencies.
Travelers offers Identity Fraud Expense Coverage as an endorsement on a homeowners policy for $25 annual for up to $25,000 per insured person with no deductible. The policy includes identity fraud resolution services.
The carrier also offers identity fraud expense reimbursement coverage to financial institutions and commercial entities as an employee, customer or membership benefit.