Insurance company, Travelers, reported a surge in identity theft cases last year as economic conditions worsened. However, strategies of identity thieves seem to lack ingenuity and sophistication as a lot of identity theft cases were an offshoot of good old fashioned pick pocketing, purse snatching, and laptop grabbing.
In 2008, identity theft cases reported a sharp 22% increase while authorities are not expecting the situation to improve in the current year. They maintained that if the economic landscape would not improve, fraudulent activities would continue to proliferate.
The statistics were a reason for authorities to be concerned and worried as previous years looked tame and serene. Due to developments in technology and increasing consumer vigilance, from 2004-2008, identity fraud was kept to a minimum and was even on a retreat.
Travelers pointed at the limping economy as the culprit for the spike in fraud cases. Desperate times call for desperate measures and many people, hurt with limited opportunities, are now resorting to burglary and theft to survive. Although electronic theft involving big businesses normally grab headlines, simple theft cases, like laptop theft, bag and wallet snatching comprise the majority of crimes that result to identity fraud.
Around 80% or a big majority of fraud cases involved personal theft where individuals were robbed by thieves of their properties and ran away with their personal records. A mere 14% of the total fraud cases involved electronic tapping or hacking.
The usual modus operandi of identity thieves is to open new credit card accounts under their victim's name, said Travelers. Around 75% of cases will look this way. On the other hand, around 20% of stolen personal information will be used to withdraw money from existing personal accounts, and rounding the total off would be opening of utility accounts.
It pays to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings to avoid being victimized by identity thieves. One good way of minimizing this type of risk is to not carry in your wallet or save in computer disks classified personal information such as Social Security numbers. You can also get identity fraud expense coverage, which can provide resolution services to victims whose personal information has been stolen. Be informed on how identity fraud is committed and learn preventive ways and measures to avoid being victimized by identity thieves.
According to Travelers, identity thieves do not target a specific group or individuals, and just about anyone can be a target. They recommend people to keep themselves updated on techniques of identity thieves and to refrain from frequenting places where their safety might be placed at risk.