A recent survey shows that identity theft is on the rise – and it’s more likely to start with a stolen wallet than an online “phishing” excursion. Researchers at Javelin Strategy & Research report that the number of identity theft cases has increased just over 22 percent since 2008 to 9.9 million a year. Here are the most common ways your identity can be stolen:
- Crimes of opportunity, e.g., a stolen wallet counted for 43 percent of cases compared to 33 percent in 2007, indicating an increase in the desperation of criminals.
- Women were 26 percent more likely to be victims of identity theft, reporting a higher incidence of lost or stolen information during purchases in stores.
- Only 11 percent of identity theft cases were due to online access.
Risk Management – An Once of Prevention
Obviously the best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some great tips from Safeco Insurance on how to reduce your risk of identity theft: http://www.safeco.com/insurance-101/consumer-tips/identity-theft.
Closing the Barn Door
However, if your identity is stolen, you can lessen problems by acting quickly:
- Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
- Call and report to the police. Make several copies of police report.
- Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (call 1-887-ID-THEFT to request the forms).
- Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver’s License number, Social Security Number and freeze your bank accounts.
- Call fraud units of credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
Identity Theft Protection - A Pound of Cure
Fortunately, identity theft protection is available as an endorsement on most homeowners’ policies at a reasonable cost. For example, Safeco offers Identity Theft Protection for $12 a year added a Homeowners’ Policy. The coverage reimburses certain expenses associated with identity recovery. Customers can also get guidance on how to protect themselves from ID theft before it happens and receive assistance with identity restoration.
Take Advantage of a ”Best Buy”
Why is this coverage so cheap compared to “stand alone” providers? It is mainly due to the efficiency of collecting the premium as a part of a Homeowners Policy that is already being administered and billed. Add in the benefit of true insurance (i.e., a carrier that is closely regulated, has adequate reserves and participates in state sponsored guarantee funds) versus a “stand alone” service contract and it is easy to see that identity theft protection from an insurance carrier is truly a bargain.
If you’re interested in learning more, call Debbie Conroy at (515) 528-2377 or e-mail her at Debbie@ConroyLLC.com.