In a recent security breach more than 40 million shoppers’ credit and debit card information was stolen from November 27th to mid-December. While a major incident like this doesn’t happen often, it is a reminder that identity theft is a common issue that every customer purchasing products by electronic means are exposed to.
The use of stolen credit card numbers is the most common form of identity theft, but with the increasing use of the internet to purchase items and pay bills, electronic means of identity theft are quickly on the rise. Online scams like “phishing”, involves thieves sending email inquiries to unsuspecting individuals pretending to be from financial institutions or other organizations to obtain sensitive account information. Other thieves still use the “dumpster diving” method of scrounging through peoples garbage to collect financial information.
Many credit card companies offer a limit of coverage to protect you in the event that your credit card information is stolen and unauthorized purchased made in your name. However, the limits of coverage are generally a small amount, and may not cover the full cost of gaining your identity back. Many home insurance companies now include identity theft protection as part of their standard home insurance policy, or offer it as an endorsement to your current policy for an estimated $25-$50 annually. Each home insurance company’s Identity Theft coverage is different, but many programs offer a variety of services including:
- Proactive Services – help customers if they suspect their identity has been compromised or something like their wallet or purse is lost or stolen
- Expense Reimbursement – Provides reasonable funds reimbursement up to the coverage limit provided, for lost wages due to court appearances, meetings, document preparation, mailings, and other expenses associated with gaining your identity back
- Restoration Services – Guidance for customers to help stop fraudulent bills and charges, and provide victims recovering from identity theft with one year of free fraud-monitoring services
- Document Replacement – Guidance and help replacing lost, stolen, or destroyed identification documents including Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports and driver’s licenses.
Each year, over 15 million American’s fall victim to a form of identity theft, and being proactive in protecting yourself is a very wise idea. The cost to add this additional coverage to your home insurance policy is very minimal, and if you happen to be the unlucky victim of identity theft you’ll be happy that you have the coverage!