On understanding identity theft brings up the question, “Identity theft, what is that?” At this point in time, unless a person is actively involved with the Internet, he or she may not know what identity theft is, the implications thereof and the importance of obtaining protection against identity theft.
“Does my homeowner’s policy protect me in case of identity theft?” is another question that has increasing relevance, in today’s cyberspace world. Many people may not realize that insurance coverage can be purchased, but it is an optimal endorsement on a homeowner’s insurance policy.
What identity theft constitutes the fraudulent use of someone else’s identity for the purpose of financial gain, or other benefits. Impersonating another person is considered a criminal offense. Personal identifiers like a social security number, social insurance number, driver’s license number, and credit card numbers are stolen when another person commits identity theft of your personal information.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, section 403, the following statement is made. “Everyone who fraudulently impersonates (sic) any person, living or dead, (a ) with intent to gain advantage for himself or another person, (b) with intent to obtain any property, or (c) with intent to cause disadvantage to the person whom he impersonates (sic) or another person, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or an offence punishable on summary conviction.”
The Federal Trade Commission discusses identity theft on the following web site:
The FTC discusses how to deter or minimize your risk, how to detect identity theft and how to defend yourself or recover from identity theft, if you are victimized. In the United States there are laws against identity theft. Congress, under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act (1998), ruled that it is a federal felony to use another person’s identification with the intent to commit unlawful activity.
How can you protect yourself? Updated computer protection is extremely important to avoid identity theft. Anti-viral software and a firewall are recommended. Avoid using public computers to do your online banking or activity that allows the transfer of sensitive information. Use caution with e-mail Avoid giving out credit card information or personal information particularly when you do not know the company involved. Remember that your personal information can be obtained from statements, checks, and applications for mortgages, or car loans. Do not allow others to use your computer.
Check with your insurance company to ascertain if you can obtain coverage for identity theft, as an endorsement on your homeowner’s policy. The cost is minimal in comparison to the risk that you are taking. Find out exactly what you are protected from and how much actual coverage your have. If you are aware of identity theft alert the places where you have bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and loans, immediately. Watch your bank accounts and credit cards carefully, for any unusual activity. Report any problems to the police. Place a fraud alert on your credit cards if you suspect credit card fraud as the result of identity theft.
The following web site offers statistical information on identity theft.
The Gartner study in 2006, suggested that there were at least fifteen million identity theft victims at that time with 28.5 million people being victimized approximately every two seconds. It is probably impossible to count the number of others victimized since that time.
For more information on what is covered, the Hanover Homeowner’s Insurance offers further guidelines.