You see it all over the news – data breaches at major retailers that potentially compromised shoppers’ debit and credit cards. While your banking institutions and credit card issuers do offer some protection against fraudulent charges to your accounts, did you know that your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may offer additional protection if your identity is stolen?
Keep Your Identity Yours Alone
- Keep an eye out: Even if you don’t suspect your identity or credit cards have been comprised, it’s a good idea to regularly go over your statements to ensure all charges are accurate. Some credit card issuers will offer inexpensive credit monitoring from at least one of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion and Equifax). If you notice a fraudulent charge or an error on your credit report, you should immediately contact the appropriate agency (i.e., your credit card issuer, credit reporting agency, bank, etc.).
- Extra protection: In addition to your own diligence, your homeowner’s, condo or renter’s insurance policy can offer some extra protection. For a small yearly fee (typically less than $40) your insurance policy may cover expenses related to court fees, loan reapplication fees (if denied due to identity theft), notary fees and more. Some insurance policies may also include access to an identity theft counselor – someone to assist with reporting fraudulent activity and to act as a liaison to the major credit report bureaus on your behalf. Identity theft coverage will vary by company and state, so be sure to ask your insurance agent about plans available to you.
- Next steps: If you suspect that you have been a victim of credit card or identity theft, fill out a police report. This is crucial because the next few agencies you will be contacting – your bank, credit card issuer and the three major credit reporting agencies – will need a copy to send to their fraud departments. You will also need to file an ID Theft Complaint and Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission. Any accounts or cards that are potentially compromised should be closed and new cards issued. Continue to monitor your credit reports and accounts.
The road to recovery from credit card and identity fraud can be long and expensive. If you’re interested in learning more about adding identity theft protection to your homeowner’s, condo or renter’s insurance, contact our personal insurance experts.