Identity Theft

Despite law enforcement and the general public’s understanding of identity theft crimes, the numbers of cases continue to rise. The insurance industry has responded to this problem by creating endorsements and adding coverage for the following to their homeowner’s policies:
• Costs associated with notarizing affidavits and sending these affidavits via certified mail
• Lost income due to taking time off work to deal with consequences of the loss
• Loan re-application fees and long distance fees
• Attorney’s fees
• Services aimed at assisting insured’s by directly contacting credit bureaus, creditors, etc.
Here are a few steps that can be taken to minimize one’s exposure to identity theft:
• Never place outgoing mail in your mail box.
• Never give any personal information such as your social security number to anyone unless absolutely necessary and the firm is trusted and reputable.
• Always shred all credit card offers received in the mail
• Obtain a credit report every year to ascertain that no one is damaging your credit.
• Always use passwords to protect your accounts.
• Be extremely vigilant about checking backgrounds of anyone with whom you propose to do business.
Should you become the victim of identity theft, here is a list of actions to take:• Contact credit bureaus, including Equifax, 800-525-6285, Experian, 888-397-3742, and Transunion, 800-680-7289. Alert them to place a “fraud alert” on your account.
• File a report with your local police department
• Contact all your creditors, credit card companies, banks and other lenders
• Close any accounts tampered with or opened fraudulently
• Notify your bank of check theft and close the account immediately.
• Complete the ID Theft Affidavit available through the Federal Trade Commission’s web site, http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/affisdavit.pdf
• Contact your attorney immediately to obtain professional advice.
• Contact your insurance agent for possible coverage.

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