A study conducted by Travelers of its 2009 claims data reveals that 76% of its customers experience burglary, stolen wallets and pilfered identifications as causes of identity fraud.
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. This underscores how thieves still prefer more low-tech means of identity fraud over online-related thefts and data breaches that garner 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% - burglary and theft of wallet/purse/personal identification/computer
• 9% - online or data breach
• 9% - forgery
• 6% - change of address/postal fraud
The study also revealed what criminals do with the stolen information. According to the Travelers study, 74% of the time criminals use the stolen personal information from Travelers customers to open new credit card accounts or use the existing credit cards to make charges. Of that 74%, 26% of identity thieves access existing credit/debit cards, 21% open new cards and make charges in the victim's name, and 18% access and withdraw funds from existing checking, savings and online retail accounts.
Travelers' findings come at a time when identity fraud continues to plague consumers nationally. A study by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that the number of identity fraud victims jumped by 12% to 11.1 million adults in 2009, the biggest increase since the survey began in 2003.
The information was compiled by Travelers, which claims to be the first insurance carrier to offer identity fraud expense reimbursement insurance. Insurance protection for identity fraud from Travelers provides customers with access to a consumer fraud specialist, who can guide victims through the process of restoring their identity. Coverage includes reimbursement for the costs associated with identity restoration as well as providing the services required to help victims restore an identity.
Identity Fraud Expense Reimbursement Coverage is available as an endorsement on a Travelers homeowners policy for $25 annually and offers protection up to $25,000 per insured person with no deductible. Travelers also offers Identity Fraud Expense Reimbursement Coverage to financial institutions and commercial entities as an employee, customer or membership benefit.
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