A recent article in the Times Union, titled “Are Doctor’s Offices Data Danger Zones?”, brought to light the dangers posed when personal information is released… to anyone. Even to the staff at doctor’s offices, where you go to feel better rather than feel unsafe.
When someone steals someone else’s personal information, that is called identity theft. You have likely heard of identity theft, but you may not be aware of the more serious crime of identity fraud – when someone uses that stolen information to commit a crime or fraud in the other person’s name.
No one is immune to identity fraud. It’s the fastest growing white-collar crime in America, and there is no end in sight. Falling victim to identity fraud tarnishes your good name and can potentially ruin your credit, compromise your financial and medical history, and drain your assets. Once the damage is done, the road back to restoring what was yours can be both time-consuming and expensive.
The reassuring news is that you can buy insurance coverage for identity fraud. NY homeowners insurance companies either include this coverage in their homeowners policies or it can be purchased for a small fee, say $25.
Identity fraud coverage generally pays for expenses related to the fraud, such as costs for notarizing fraud affidavits; certified mail sent to law enforcement; lost income resulting from time taken from work to meet with law enforcement credit agencies; loan application fees for re-applying for a loan when an application is rejected solely because the lender received bad information. It also covers attorney’s fees to defend lawsuits brought against the insured. Coverage is specific to each insurance company, so double check with your particular insurer.
Policyholders may also be assigned a counselor to advocate on their behalf throughout the identity restoration process.
In addition to purchasing insurance, you should take the following precautions:
- Check your home mailbox daily, and drop your outgoing mail into a secure postal mail box only.
- Also, pay attention to your billing cycles; identity thieves may change your billing address, so a late bill may indicate a problem.
- Carry only what you need in your wallet or purse and keep an itemized list of those items on paper. In the event of a mishap, you’ll know who should be notified and the phone numbers to call to cancel the accounts.
- If you write your social security number, address, date of birth or other pertinent personal information on paper, shred that paper when done using it.
- Be weary of who you provide your personal information to. Only give it to legitimate businesses on a “need-to-know” basis.
- Password protect your financial accounts. A strong password should be more than eight characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non alphabetical character. Use of non-dictionary words is also recommended.
At The Murray Group, it is our job to provide a consultative approach to securitizing your future. Through our LiveSECURE 365™ process, we carefully identity your potential exposures and dig deep to understand what your goals and dreams are so that we can help you live a more secure life.
If you have any questions about identity fraud coverage or would like to speak with myself or a member of our personal risk advisory team, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Live Secure 365,
VP, Risk Consultant
Photo credit to: https://joeyrodgersministries.wordpress.com/sermons/identity-theft-logo/