How Criminals Steal your Identity

Computer crimes make headlines but thieves prefer low-tech, old-fashioned theft

Identity fraud increased substantially in 2008, reversing a four-year trend of decreasing incidents. Researchers say identity fraud increased by 22 percent last year and they anticipate another 22 percent jump in 2009, attributing the increases to crimes of opportunity driven by the economic downturn1. What’s more, despite recent headlines and growing fears about online security and data breaches, old-fashioned theft is the most popular way thieves steal identities and perpetrate identity fraud.

Burglary and theft of wallets, purses and personal computers provide thieves the best opportunity to gain access to personal information. In instances where the victim knew their identity had been stolen, it was the result of personal property being stolen nearly 78% of the time.  The following has been identified as the top known causes of identity fraud:

What do thieves do with the information once they have it?  More than 75% of the time, criminals use the information to open new credit card accounts or use the existing credit cards to make charges. Twenty percent of identity thieves will withdraw money from existing checking, savings and online accounts and 16 percent open utility accounts in the victim’s name.

Identity fraud can happen to anyone at any time. Thieves don’t discriminate. They prefer crimes of opportunity, so, it really becomes a matter of being vigilant and prepared in the event identity fraud happens to you.

You need to take a proactive approach to protecting your identity, for example, guarding social security numbers and financial information and shredding documents like receipts, credit/insurance applications and bank statements. Identity Fraud Expense Coverage with high-quality resolution services offers another important layer of protection. “Restoring an identity is time consuming, costly and requires expertise.”

Identity Theft Coverage includes reimbursement for the costs associated with identity restoration as well as providing the services required to restore an identity.   The cost to add this coverage is generally $ 25 per year, and provides up to $ 25,000 in covered costs.