The "old fashioned" ways of stealing someone's identity are still the leading causes of identity fraud.
According to a study by Travelers, the offline methods of identity fraud such as stolen or lost wallets, pilfered identifications and burglaries far outweigh the online methods such as Internet scams and cyber breaches.
The study, based on the insurance company's claim data, shows 73 percent of identity fraud cases came as a result of stolen personal items. Fifteen percent of cases came from an online or data breach.
The leading cause of identity fraud is a lost or stolen item such as a pocketbook or wallet. Next was a stolen or lost piece of personal identification such as a Social Security card or license; followed by a burglary. Cyber breaches and Internet scams were the fourth leading cause. Forgeries and postal fraud were other factors in identity fraud.
A recent study by ID Analyticsshowed that there were more than 10,000 identity fraud rings throughout the United States. An identity fraud ring is a group of people actively collaborating to commit identity fraud.
The Travelers study recommended a number of tips for consumers to protect themselves from identity fraud:
- Never disclose personal information if you receive an unsolicited request.
- Beware of sharing personal information on social media.
- Review your credit report, monthly financial statements and credit card bills for errors or suspicious activity. Every consumer can receive a free annual report from the major credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com
- Be diligent in shredding old bills, important documents and financial statements.
- Keep wallets and purses in a secure place.
- Only carry the essential or useful credit cards and personal information with you.