Identity theft is the act of procuring someone’s personal information with the intention of impersonating them for financial gain, accessing goods and services or committing a crime. It comes in many forms with a multitude of nefarious intentions and potentially disastrous results. Most folks are familiar with credit card fraud but the problem is exponentially larger. With just a few pieces of personal information found in a dropped wallet or discarded mail, a thief can take out loans, apply for a passport, use someone’s medical benefits or commit a crime while acting as someone else. A thief trying to create a new identity for themselves (or to sell) may take pieces of several people’s identities to create a hybrid or they may even go after a child’s information which could go unnoticed for years.
How does identity theft happen?
Your identity could be stolen from activities you may be doing every day. According to the United States Department of Justice, the most common ways identity fraud happens are: when people respond to phishing (spam) emails; when a pre-approved credit card offer is thrown away without being shredded or from “shoulder surfing” which is where someone listens or watches as you give your credit card information over the phone. (The United States Department of Justice 2017) If you are someone who feels safe because you are mostly off the grid (meaning you don’t use online shopping, social networking, email, auto bill payments, etc.) you may have a false sense of security that your information isn’t exposed. Unfortunately, your information is out there somewhere (the credit bureaus for instance) and if that information is breeched, you may actually be worse off because it will take longer for notification to reach you via snail mail.
Victims of Identity Theft
According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, in 2016 there were 15.4 million US residents who were victim to fraud and 16 billion US dollars lost to fraud. (Javelin Strategy 2017) Money is lost not only through financial identity theft but also on all the resources used for the arbitration and correspondence needed to address misappropriated funds, affected credit scores, fraudulent charges, unauthorized accounts and erroneous criminal records. Recovery could potentially take years.
What is identity theft insurance coverage?
Identity theft insurance is a coverage that will provide reimbursement for the cost of restoring the insured’s identity. As mentioned previously, rehabilitating your identity is an excruciatingly slow process that could go on for years. During that time, the fees are going to add up for certified mail, notary fees, phone bills, travel expenses, attorney fees and potentially lost wages. Identity fraud insurance may cover these fees as well as credit alerts and credit monitoring based on the benefit limits of the policy.
Cost of Identity Theft Insurance
Some homeowners and renters insurance policies will include limited protection against identity theft, a few hundred dollars at best. You can purchase additional coverage often for as little as $25, the cost of one express priority mailed letter. Though you are likely to have a deductible to prepare for, having coverage of $10,000 – $20,000 will provide tremendous peace of mind a minimal cost. It almost doesn’t make sense not to buy identity fraud insurance.
Make sure to ask your insurance broker to see if identity theft is included in your homeowners or renters policy, what the benefit limits are and how much your deductible is. If coverage is not included or doesn’t provide the coverage you want, think about purchasing a stand-alone policy.
Submitting a Claim
If your identity is stolen, contact any businesses where the fraud occurred as well as credit card companies or banks to put a freeze from additional charges. You are going to need to file a report with the police as soon as possible and get copies to submit to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your insurance agent for claim processing. The faster you do this, the more likely you are to avoid a major loss.
Would you settle for less?
If you find your current insurance agent is unable to offer you acceptable identity theft insurance, it’s time to find a new agent.
Read over your policy very carefully. Spend time comparing all aspects and not just the prices. Make sure it suits your needs and will give you the coverage that works best for your specific situation.
Get the coverage you need.
Daigle and Travers is based in beautiful Darien, nestled between Stamford, Norwalk, and New Canaan. We also serve Fairfield County, Greenwich, Weston, Westport, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding, Easton, Fairfield, Southport, Trumbull and parts of Westchester County and Long Island.
We will provide you with the right coverage to make sure your investments are safe during a disaster. When partnering with us, we will give you all the necessary information and options you need to make the best choice of insurance company and policy. Give us a call today at (203)-655-6974.
- Javelin Strategy. February 1. Accessed September 19, 2017. https://www.javelinstrategy.com/press-release/identity-fraud-hits-record-high-154-million-us-victims-2016-16-percent-according-new.
- The United States Department of Justice. February 7. Accessed September 20, 2017. https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/identity-theft/identity-theft-and-identity-fraud.