What’s in your wallet? Whatever it is, identity thieves still see it as the easiest way to get your information.
As concerned as we all are with an online or other technology-related data breach, the vast majority of identity theft happens from stolen or misplaced items such as wallets and pocketbooks. The second most common cause is a compromised license, Social Security card or other form of personal I.D. Burglaries rate third.
These top three causes accounted for 73 percent of cases involving identity theft, according to a study of 2011 claims data by Travelers Insurance. The thieves often acquired the personal information through less obvious means, from sorting through trash for bank statements to stealing pre-approved credit card applications in the mail. Only 10 percent of those surveyed could identify the perpetrator of the identify fraud made against them.
Only 15 percent of identity fraud was attributed to an online or data breach even amidst increased adoption of online shopping, mobile payments and use of banking apps, Travelers said. About 10 percent of identity theft happened as a result of forgery, and 2 percent from change of address or postal fraud.
Checking monthly statements consistently is important for catching ID theft. But here are some preventative measures to keep top of mind, especially during this holiday season:
Carry only the essentials: Leave unnecessary credit cards and critical documents in a discrete, location in your home.
Beware of scams: Do not fall for scams intended to pull at your heart strings. Do not disclose personal information, such as credit card and bank account details, if you receive an unsolicited request.
Do not throw away -- destroy: Shred, shred, shred! Don’t just throw old bills and financial statements in the trash.
Make security a priority: Keep purses and wallets in a safe place, never print account information on envelopes of outgoing mail, and be careful about sharing personal information on social media.
Travelers says it was the first insurance carrier to offer identity fraud insurance, which it makes available as an endorsement on a homeowners policy, or as an employee, customer or membership benefit through financial and other commercial entities.
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