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Delaware Department of

Identity Theft

Protecting Your Personal Data

What is identity theft?

According to the Department of Justice, “Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. In the United States and Canada, for example, many people have reported that unauthorized persons have taken funds out of their bank or financial accounts, or, in the worst cases, taken over their identities altogether, running up vast debts and committing crimes while using the victims’ names. In many cases, a victim’s losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.”

What can you do to prevent identity theft?

Taking steps to protect your identity is important. Here are some suggestions:

  • Avoid carrying your Social Security number and driver’s license number together in your wallet.
  • Shred pre-approved credit card offers and bills before disposing of them.
  • Avoid putting outgoing mail in your home mailbox – place it in a U.S. Postal service mailbox.
  • Be careful using credit cards online. Some consumers have a card they use only for online purchases.
  • Check your credit report on a regular basis. If you see unusual activity, you can investigate promptly by contacting the three credit bureaus:

Tips for All Consumers to Prevent Identity Theft

  • Know what’s in your wallet. Avoid carrying your Social Security number in your wallet or purse. This number provides access to personal information, and it should be stored in a safe and protected place. In addition, only carry the credit cards you need. This practice limits access to your accounts in the event that your purse or wallet is lost or stolen. It’s also a good idea to periodically photocopy your cards and keep a record of the customer service phone numbers associated with your financial accounts to speed up the process of cancelling credit cards, if needed.
  • Shred, Shred, Shred. Open all mail and read it carefully—even the items that might appear to be junk mail could contain personal offers. Any items with personal information, such as pre-approved credit offers, bank statements or utility bills should be shredded before being discarded.
  • Be suspicious of solicitors. You should never give personal information or your Social Security number to people unless you have verified that they are trustworthy. This advice applies to sharing information over the phone, in-store or online.
  • Monitor your revolving accounts and credit score. Check your bank, credit card and other financial account information, along with your credit score, once a year to reduce the risk of unauthorized charges or credit applications. If you see a suspicious charge, immediately contact your financial institution.
  • Take action against unauthorized actions. If you notice a new account has been opened in your name without your permission, immediately contact one of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian or TransUnion—and ask that a “fraud alert” be placed on your record. Once the alert is placed, the other two bureaus will be notified, and creditors will be required to contact you directly before opening new accounts or making changes to existing accounts. In addition, file a police report and submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. You also might consider enrolling in paid services that monitor your credit report and alert you when someone applies for credit in your name or account information is altered.
  • Surf the internet safely. Millions of people are online at any given time, some of whom are thieves looking to steal your identity. These hackers can be found collecting information through seemingly innocuous “pop-ups,” surfing unsecured networks or hacking into retail web sites. Be sure to always use a secured network, and frequently update firewall protections on your computer. Also limit the amount of personal information you post on networking Web sites.

What steps should I take if I am (or think I may be) the victim of a data breach or cyber attack?

You may want to consider placing a freeze on your credit report with the three major credit reporting agencies. This allows you to restrict access to your credit report, making it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name. Be sure to protect the information of your family as well – including children and elderly parents. For more information about a credit freeze, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information Credit Freeze FAQs. Contact your bank or credit card company if you notice suspicious activity on your account. You may ask them to put a security block on your account or preemptively request a new credit or debit card.

Make sure to closely monitor your accounts, credit score, bank, credit card and other financial information. You should also monitor Explanation of Benefits (EOB) forms from your health insurer or Medicare. If you spot charges for medical services you did not receive, contact your health insurer or Medicare immediately.

Can you insure against identity theft?

If you are a victim of identity theft, it can be very costly to reestablish your credit and identity. Several companies are now offering identity theft insurance, which generally costs between $25 and $60 per year. Identity theft insurance cannot protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft and does not cover direct monetary losses incurred as result of identity theft. Instead, identity theft insurance provides coverage for the cost of reclaiming your financial identity, such as the costs of making phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from work without pay (lost wages) and hiring an attorney.

Things To Consider

  • Find out what the policy limits are. Most identity theft insurance policies have policy limits of $10,000 – $15,000.
  • Find out if there is a deductible. Some policies require you to pay the first $100 – $500 of costs incurred for reclaiming your financial identity.
  • Remember, identity theft insurance does not cover direct monetary losses.
  • If the policy covers lost wages, verify what limits apply and what is required to trigger this coverage. If you are a salaried employee or are required to request vacation time in the event of a work absence associated with reclaiming your financial identity, you may not have unpaid leave and lost wages.
  • If the policy covers legal fees, verify what limits apply and if legal work needs to be pre-approved by the insurer.

Before You Buy

Check to see if your current homeowner insurer includes identity theft insurance as part of your homeowner’s insurance. If not, you may be able to add identity theft insurance to your homeowner’s policy for a small fee or purchase a stand-alone policy from another insurer, bank or credit card company.

As with any insurance product, make sure you understand what you are purchasing and compare the product’s price, coverage and deductibles among multiple insurers.

Recent News

Consumer Alert: February 2015 |
Anthem Cyber Attack May Affect 62,000 Delaware Residents

Premera Blue Cross: March 2015 | Health insurance company from Washington state, Premera, says it was a victim of cyberattack

Question: Does this incident affect Blue Cross Blue Shield plans that are not part of the Premera family of companies?

Answer: Members of other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans who have sought treatment in Washington or Alaska may be affected. Premera is mailing letters to anyone whose information may have been accessed during this attack.

See Premera’s website for additional information.

Links to Related Pages Within Our Website

Credit Scoring: Learn more about how your credit score can impact your insurance rates and how you can access free credit reports.

Fraud Prevention: Learn more about insurance fraud and how to report suspected fraud in Delaware.

Licensee Look-Up: When you’re working with anyone selling an insurance product (life insurance, auto insurance, annuities, etc.) always verify that they have a valid license to do so. Use the free Licensee Look-Up tool to verify that your agent or broker is licensed in Delaware and confirm that their license is “Active”.

Links to External Webpages

Federal Trade Commission: Identity Theft

Federal Trade Commission: Medical Identity Theft

Federal Trade Commission: Scam Alerts

This page was created with content from various sources including the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

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