Online shopping may be on the rise with Cyber Monday deals to lure consumers to their computers. But identity fraud mostly happens offline.
Stolen wallets and identification cards, and burglary account for most identity theft cases, according to a new study from Travelers Insurance, the first carrier to offer identity fraud insurance.
"When everyday essentials ... are stolen or go missing, identity fraud usually follows," said Joe Reynolds, identity fraud product manager at Travelers.
Here are the top causes of identity theft, according to the study, which reviewed the insurer's 2011 claims data:
- • 73 percent - burglary and theft of wallet, purse, personal identification, computer
- • 15 percent - online or data breach (including Internet scams)
- • 10 percent - forgery
- • 2 percent - change of address, postal fraud
When traveling and shopping for the holidays, be sure to protect your identity with these five easy tips:
- 1. Carry only the essentials: Leave the unnecessary credit cards and critical documents in a safe location in your home.
- 2. 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.
- 3. Do not throw away—destroy: Shred old bills and financial statements rather than placing them in the trash.
- 4. Make security a priority: Be sure to store 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.
- 5. Know your score: Check your free credit report annually from the national credit reporting agencies by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you suspect you're a victim of identity theft, contact your providers. Your insurance company, bank or credit union, or membership organizations may offer identity management services.