Stolen Wallets, IDs Most Common Causes of ID Fraud

August 24, 2010

Victims of identity theft are most often targeted via burglary, stolen wallets and pilfered identifications, according to a new survey on identity fraud.

In some 76 percent of all cases of identity fraud reported by Travelers customers, burglary, stolen wallets and stolen identifications top the list of the most common known causes, according to a study of Travelers’ 2009 claims data.

The findings mirror last year’s report on Travelers’ 2008 claims data which indicated that the majority of identity fraud cases reported by customers were from burglaries and stolen wallets. The data reveals how thieves still prefer more low-tech means of identity fraud over online-related thefts and data breaches that typically receive significant media attention.

“This study suggests once again that more traditional means of identity fraud are prevalent today and continue to pose significant risks to consumers,” said Joe Reynolds, Identity Fraud Product Manager for Travelers. “Knowing this, it is critical that consumers take steps to protect themselves and their property.”

Travelers identified the following as the top known causes of identity fraud for its customers:

  • 76 percent – burglary and theft of wallet/purse/personal identification/computer
  • 9 percent – online or data breach
  • 9 percent – forgery
  • 6 percent – change of address/postal fraud

The study also found that 74 percent of the time criminals use the stolen personal information to open new credit card accounts or use the existing credit cards to make charges. Of that 74 percent, 26 percent of identity thieves access existing credit/debit cards, 21 percent open new cards and make charges in the victim’s name, and 18 percent access and withdraw funds from existing checking, savings and online retail accounts.

A study by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that the number of identity fraud victims jumped by 12 percent to 11.1 million adults in 2009, the biggest increase since the survey began in 2003.

“Identity fraud is a crime that can happen to anyone, anywhere, and so it’s particularly important for people to exercise diligence in protecting their personal information,” noted Reynolds.

Source: Travelers

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