by Jacqueline “Jackie” Saltzman
Are you monetarily protected if someone steals your identity? Can you afford the out-of-pocket costs associated with restoring your good name and credit?
There was an amazing true story out of Colorado recently where the victim of ID theft was given her very own driver’s license when she carded a patron at the restaurant where she worked. Before this miraculous discovery occurred, the waitress was informed by her bank that checks from her account were being used by this very perpetrator who was sitting in her section, awaiting table service. While the chances of a victim’s ID getting restored this quickly are slim, the fact remains that there are countless victims of this growing crime. It’s a rapidly increasing crime due to the ease in obtaining social security numbers and other sensitive information. Additionally, it does not get the attention of law enforcement as much as violent crime does. There is simply too much of it for them to handle all cases.
Identity Fraud is defined as:
“The act of knowingly transferring or using, without lawful authority, a person’s means of identity which constitutes a violation of federal law or a crime under any applicable state or local law.”
Examples of ID theft include: obtaining credit cards or loans in someone else’s name, opening utility accounts, renting an apartment, getting a cellular phone, purchasing a car or home, just to name a few. Victims are not liable for the bills accumulated by these imposters, according to federal law; however, there can be large costs involved in restoring their damaged financial strength and good credit history.
Some of the tremendous costs that can be incurred by a victim are:
- the cost of notarizing affidavits for law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and/or credit agencies;
- the cost of loan application fees for previously rejected loans;
- telephone expenses
- lost earnings for time taken off work to resolve the situation, such as calls to creditors, writing letters, etc.
- reasonable attorney fees incurred for trying to restore credit.
- immeasurable costs of emotional stress and lost productivity in other aspects of a person’s life
While there are independent companies such a LifeLock and Experian that provide protection for a price, many insurance policies offer this coverage in their contracts for fraud, stolen identity, forgery, and the like. The limits provided vary by carrier, but they can provide valuable identification restoration services, reimbursement for costs incurred, legal costs, and liability coverage. For example, one carrier will provide you with a packet of information which details the resolution process, they will notify 3 major credit bureaus, and they will notify creditors as to what has occurred. They offer coverage up to $100,000 as reimbursement for the costs incurred, such as lost wages, application charges, legal expenses, including any criminal defense charges brought against you during the commission of a crime in your name.
The agony of returning your credit to its good standing following identification theft can be long-felt. It takes time for everything to return to normal. Having insurance protection behind you can greatly ease that burden.
So that you know exactly how the coverage provided on your homeowners policy is structured and the limits provided, review the benefit with your agent to ensure that you have the maximum coverage available through your carrier.
Disclaimer: The above content is a general overview which is provided for discussion purposes only and is not in any way meant as providing recommendations or legal counsel. It is not intended to apply to each circumstance. Because the facts and circumstances of every matter differ and the terms, conditions, exclusions and limitations contained in insurance policies vary, you should review your policy carefully and seek any legal counsel that may be necessary or appropriate. Momentous is not responsible for any losses or damage resulting from reliance on the information contained herein.