That’s how many Americans have their identities stolen each year, estimates the Federal Trade Commission.
From January 2005 until October 2007, a staggering 215 million personal records were breached, reported the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The FTC noted that, in half of the criminal incidents in 2005, thieves obtained goods or services worth $500 or less. In 10 percent of cases, thieves stole at least $6,000.
ID theft has only been a crime since 1998, when Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, but it’s escalated as a problem. Not only do criminals use identity theft to steal assets, they also commit crimes in the name and character of the victim.
The FTC urges a “deter-detect-defend” approach to battle ID theft, which costs consumers and businesses plenty of money and time. Deterring means safeguarding personal data to make it harder to steal and misuse. Detecting means monitoring and becoming aware of irregularities that indicate data has been stolen. Defending means reporting the crime and then taking steps to regain data security, recover stolen assets and fix misused information.
Identity theft criminals commonly use six methods to steal consumer and business information:
1. “Dumpster diving” for papers with personal information (get a shredder folks…they are cheap!)
2. “Skimming”—stealing credit/debit card numbers when a card is processed.
4. Changing an address by completing a change of address form to divert bills to a criminal’s location
5. Stealing wallets, mail, checks, employer personnel records and other paperwork—through breaking-and-entering physically or electronically or bribing employees who have access to information
6. “Pretexting”—using false pretenses or tricks of social engineering to obtain personal information from consumers, financial institutions, telephone companies and other sources.
Identity theft robs a victim of time that must be urgently spent to alert police, credit bureaus, financial institutions, medical providers and others. A victim has to prove an identity loss or financial loss; close accounts; write letters to government entities; and even work with a legal advocate to recover and rebuild a stolen identity.
Likewise, the costs for legal fees can quickly add up and overwhelm a stressed victim. The loss of work time also can be costly, at the very time when financial resources are under attack by a criminal.
Personal and business insurance can play a key role in the “defend” stage of the identity theft battle. Insurers offer services to help consumers and businesses report identity theft and recover from it. Sometimes these services are included as part of a homeowners insurance package or even a business insurance package; We have LOTS of plans that include this coverage at no extra costs an most policies allow this to be added if not already included. DONT Pay $20 a month to those guys that advertise on talk radio all the time. Just get this coverage included for pennies a month on your homeowners or business policy!
An identity recovery package may include reimbursement of legal fees related to identity theft, as well as costs of credit reports and postage, phone, shipping fees, lost wages and child/elder care for those forced to spend time away from family to resolve the situation. The ID package also might include a limited benefit for mental health counseling for crime victims.
The first step in checking on whether you’re covered for identity theft? Contact us today (859) 643-8400
5 Ways to Help PREVENT Identity Theft
1. Protect your Social Security Number and only give it out if necessary after you have verified the person you are giving it to is who they say they are. Do not put your SSN on your driver’s license or on bank checks.
2. Be aware of the trash and mailyou throw away by shredding or covering your personal information such as name, address, social security number (SSN), tax id, etc. so they are not readable on charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, credit card offers, and bank statements.
3. Using the internet leaves you vulnerable to online scammers, identity thieves, etc. Be careful when purchasing items online by making sure the site is secure before giving credit card information. Do not sign up for unfamiliar contests as Identity thieves may create phony promotions to capture your personal information.
4. Store personal information and forms such as tax returns, insurance or legal document or other government forms in a secure place at home.
5. Check your credit reports for unauthorized activity by requesting a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months by calling (877) 322-8228.
4 Things To Do If You Think Your Indentity Is Being Used:
1. Place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. This alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert. A call to one company is sufficient:
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Expertian: 1-888-397-3742
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
2. Close accounts. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently:
- Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your approval or knowledge. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit, also called Identity Theft Victim’s Complaint and Affidavit to support your written statement.
- Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged. Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
3. File a police report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime. This report will also help you claim your rights as a victim of identity theft.
4. Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by calling 1-877-438-4338. This helps law enforcement with their investigations.
|This information is not an offer to sell insurance. No binder, insurance policy, change, addition, and/or deletion to insurance coverage goes into effect unless and until confirmed directly with a licensed agent. All coverages are subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the actual policy issued. Not all policies or coverages are available in every state.|