March 11, 2005
With the recent rash of thieves striking high-profile companies for their customer's personal information, the security of your identity could be in jeopardy. Now there's legal protection available to help you if you are a victim.
Fortunately for consumers, this protection actually began a month ago, right around the time of the first incident of identity theft this year.
Identity theft has recently become a big problem across the country, with several well-known companies learning that their information security had been compromised. ID theft is on the rise according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who currently ranks Virginia 19th in ID theft cases.
Insurance companies are now starting to offer those companies, and individuals, some protection.
"We offer theft identity protection, and you can get it on your homeowner's policy. Its low-cost coverage total can help you restore your credit", said Steve Harper, with Allstate Insurance.
Allstate's coverage averaging 40 dollars a year, allows customers to get as much as $25,000 to cover attorney and reapplication fees, lost wages, and to defend against lawsuits. This does not mean customers shouldn't still be cautious, however.
"I think people have to be vigilant about not sharing this information beyond the extent necessary", said Assistant United States Attorney Tim Heaphy.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney added that there are federal laws to protect you even if someone breaks into your online bank account and wipes you out. If you report it within two days, you're still only out of about $50.
"If you report something to law enforcement, that's a pre-condition to actually not being responsible for some of these charges. You have to coordinate to any extent that you can report to your local police", said Heaphy.
In 2004, Americans spent 300 million hours trying to regain their identity, so it may be a good idea to see your insurance agent about coverage. Policies can be added to an existing homeowner's or renter's insurance.