Identity theft has been a hot topic in Maine recently. It’s a nearly unavoidable risk in our digital age. Many of our clients have asked about “identity theft insurance”. We’re not aware of any insurance that can prevent identity fraud from occurring, or pay for fraudulent charges someone may make on your account. Some of the insurers we represent do offer solutions that can help if your information has already been compromised.
Experts recommend using the 3 D’s” to help you reduce the chance of identity theft, and deal with it if it does happen: Deter, Detect and Defend.
DETER Identity Theft
- Shred financial documents before you throw them away.
- Don’t give out personal info to anyone unless you have initiated the contact and know who you are dealing with.
- Lock personal information at home, especially if you are having work done at your house, or have roommates.
- Choose complex passwords. Avoid birth dates or easily guessed numbers or phrases.
- Don’t print your Social Security Number on checks, carry your card in your wallet, or give it out unless absolutely necessary (insurance agents may ask for it to quote your home or auto insurance; it’s not required, but does provide the most accurate quote).
DETECT by Monitoring Your Accounts
- Inspect financial statements for charges you did not make.
- Check your credit report for information that seems incorrect.
- Be alert to bills that do not arrive as expected.
DEFEND Yourself as Soon as You Suspect a Problem
- Place a “fraud alert” on your credit reports. To place an initial 90-day fraud alert, call one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies:
- Equifax: 800-525-6285
- Experian: 888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 800-680-7289
- Close accounts that have been affected. Ask for written verification that the account has been closed and any fraudulent debts wiped out.
- File a police report.
Identity Fraud Insurance in Maine
Your Maine insurance agency probably sells products that can reimburse you from expenses incurred to help you recover from identity theft.
Identity Fraud Insurance May Pay for:
- Cost of notifying merchants, credit agencies and lenders.
- Lost wages and incurred daycare expenses for time you spend notifying authorities and lenders.
- A “resolution service” to work with you through the process.
- Fees for re-applying and re-issuing government-issued personal documentation.
- Loan application fees for re-applying if your application was rejected because of incorrect credit information.
- Attorney fees for defense of lawsuits from creditors, criminal charges, or contesting wrongfully incurred tax liability.
Identity Fraud Insurance Does NOT pay for:
- Fraudulent charges on a credit card (these are usually wiped out by the lender, provided you notify them promptly).
- Extra expenses you may incur because your credit was frozen due to suspected identity fraud.
Many of the insurance companies we represent sell Identity Fraud Expense Reimbursement coverage. To speak with an experienced Maine insurance agent, contact us at 207-799-5541. For more information about identity theft, we recommend the FTC’s consumer web site.