You were headed to your doctor’s office with little on your mind. Your last physical was a short three years ago, and during that visit your doctor expressed how pleased she was with your overall health. She encouraged you to maintain your current exercise regimen and continue to make good food choices. You expected a similar response during this year’s physical.
The visit took a turn for the worse, however. When checking in for your appointment, you were informed the entire cost of tests and today’s consultation with the doctor would be out-of-pocket. You ask for more information and the employee gladly shares all the information he has. Unfortunately, there isn’t much there. He can only tell you that you have reached the insurance payout limit for the year. This doesn’t make sense; you haven’t been to the doctor since your last physical which was three years ago. You are certain there is a mistake.
Suddenly you recall a conversation that occurred with your insurance agent.
Last week while reviewing your home insurance policy, your insurance agent explained that identity theft was included in your policy. It was nice to hear at that time, but it was really just a side note for you. You doubted you would ever use it.
Now here you are, seriously considering the possibility that your identity has been stolen. You Google a few things on your phone and learn:
- Identity fraud attempts have increased year over year. Identity theft is reaching epidemic levels with almost 500 identities stolen each day.
- Restoring your good name takes an average of six months and 200 hours of work.
- In 2016 alone, 15.4 million U.S. consumers had their identities stolen; a 16% increase over prior year.
- Of the 3.1 million complaints received by the FTC in 2015, 16 percent were related to identity theft.
- Your personal medical information may also be sold on the black market, where it can be used to create entirely new medical identities based on your data.
- About 20 percent of victims indicated the wrong diagnosis or treatment was received or that care was delayed because there was confusion about what was true in their records due to the identity theft.
- If your identity has been stolen, “you must act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage.”
You need help, fast. You contact your insurance agent who immediately helps you file a claim. Your independent agent consistently strives for excellence and, when you were shopping for insurance, he insisted you receive the best value for your insurance dollars. Sure, there were a couple of less expensive options but the coverage wasn’t as thorough. Your final selection included a policy which provided a resolution specialist in the case of an identity theft claim. Your credit resolution specialist’s name is Jamal and he knows this business. With Jamal’s help and guidance, you have begun the process of restoring your good name.
10 Warning Signs Your Identity Has Been Stolen
If your identity has been stolen, the sooner you find out the sooner you can start mitigating damages. According to the Federal Trade Commission, here are 10 warnings signs your identity has been stolen:
- Unexplainable withdrawals from your bank account.
- You are no longer receiving bills and other mail.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
If Your Identity is Stolen
As mentioned earlier in this article, if your identity has been stolen, “you must act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage.” If you have identity theft insurance, contact your insurance agency immediately if you suspect your identity has been compromised. For information on the identity recovery process, visit https://identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen.
The Federal Trade Commission has a printable guide with basic information on identity theft. Click here to download and print the guide.
Identity Theft Insurance
Many insurance companies offer identity theft insurance. The coverage options vary depending on the policy you choose and the insurance company. Talk with your insurance agent to find out what options are available so you can choose the policy that is right for you. Some benefits this coverage may provide include the following:
- Coverage for expenses incurred to recover your identity, including phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mail costs, and (sometimes with prior consent of your insurance company) attorney fees.
- Restoration and resolution services to assist you in the process of restoring your identity and repairing your credit report.
- Little to no adverse impact on premium. Some identity theft policies are written to ensure your premium will not increase if you have a claim. Talk with your agent to see if this option is available on your policy.
Identity theft insurance is more affordable than you may think, and it is simple to add to your current insurance policy. Your independent insurance agent can help you find a company who offers this coverage. Contact your Leavitt Group insurance consultant to find out what coverage you already have and for recommendations of additional coverage you may need.