ID Theft is on the Rise

Henry Stimpson

With identity theft on the rise (more than 15 million victims per year), here are suggestions for holiday shoppers to protect their identities.

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, millions of shoppers are gearing up to kick-off the 2012 holiday shopping season. And with identity theft on the rise, The Hanover Insurance Group offers suggestions for holiday shoppers to take to protect their identity.

Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the country now accounting for more than 15 million victims per year and costs Americans whose identities have been victimized an average of $3,500. In addition, there is the frustration and time spent to reset personal credit information as a result of identity theft.

“As shoppers get excited about holiday gifts and bargains, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there waiting to take advantage of what should be a joyful season,” said Mark Desrochers, president, personal lines insurance, at The Hanover. “Because of the emotional and financial impact identity theft can have on an individual and their family, we thought it was important to offer some tips to help avoid identity theft.”

The Hanover offers the following tips to help minimize your risk from ID theft:

When paying by credit card:

• Don’t allow clerks to put your receipts in your bag; carry them in your wallet instead where they are safer and less likely to fall out.

• Watch cashiers, waiters and bartenders, ensuring that they don’t “skim” or save your card number for later use.

When paying by check:

• Never allow merchants to write your Social Security number on the check. In many states, it is illegal.

• Use a gel ink pen — preferably black — to write checks, which will permeate the fibers and make it difficult for the check to be cleaned and reused.

When shopping online:

• Be careful of wireless internet connections. Only use those that require a security key or certificate.

• Shop on secure, reputable sites only.

• Never offer personal information, especially your Social Security number.

• Leave suspicious websites immediately.

• Read customer reviews before ordering.

• Use a credit card and not a debit card, which makes it harder for you to get funds back and gives thieves access to funds in your bank account.

Avoid carrying a Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, bank information or paychecks when hitting the stores. Identity thieves find these particularly helpful.

Check your bank statements, credit card bills and credit reports often, helping to nip in the bud any efforts to use your identity.

For many, the holidays are a fun-filled time, crammed with holiday purchases and gift-giving. Taking some precautions to prevent identity theft, as well as consulting with an independent agent to determine whether your insurance policy offers access to free identity theft resolution and education, will help to give you the peace of mind as you enter the new year.

Based in Worcester, Mass., The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. is the holding company for a group of insurers that includes The Hanover Insurance Company, also based in Worcester, Citizens Insurance Company of America, headquartered in Howell, Michigan, Chaucer Holdings PLC, based in London, and their affiliates. Through Chaucer, the company underwrites business at Lloyd’s of London in several major insurance and reinsurance classes, including property, marine and aviation, energy, U.K. motor and casualty. For more information, please visit www.hanover.com.