Identity theft is the one of the highest reported scams in the United States. 2020 saw some concerning numbers when it came to identity theft. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, consumers lost $56 billion to identity fraud. Additionally, there were nearly 1.4 million reports of identity theft filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alone. 

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft can have lasting, damaging effects on finances, medical records, and even mental health. When someone assumes another’s identity, it can ruin their reputation. Here are some ways that identity theft can cause harm: 

  • Insurance information may be stolen and used for medical services, leading to the policy reaching the maximum payout.  
  • A social security number can be used to open new credit accounts or apply for a loan, tanking the victim's credit score.  
  • Worse yet, crimes may be committed using a stolen identity, leaving the victim with a criminal record. 

If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, report the incident to IdentityTheft.gov and create a personalized recovery plan. You can also call Identity Theft Resource Center if you would like to speak to a trained support specialist to build back your identity. 

Tips to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft:

  • Shred or tear up personal financial documents before discarding them. 
  • Do not print personal identifiers such as your social security number, date of birth or driver’s license number on your checks. 
  • Use your social security number only when absolutely necessary. 
  • Only reveal information online when the website is securely protected (look for a yellow padlock symbol in the corner of your computer screen). 
  • Do not provide personal, financial or any other identifying information to a telephone caller. Ask for the caller’s name and telephone number, and then check to see that the caller is legitimate. 
  • Pay attention to your credit card billing cycles, as identity thieves may reroute bills to another address to hide criminal activities involving your accounts. 
  • Carefully review all monthly credit card statements and check for unauthorized use. 
  • Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year to check for possible errors. 
  • Minimize the number of cards and identifying information you carry, especially your social security card and passport. 
  • Before revealing any information – online, over the phone, or in person – ask how it will be used. 

During Identity Theft Awareness Week, the NICB will be sharing tips like these and more to keep our members and consumers prepared. 

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $530 billion in insurance premiums in 2020, or more than 82% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 95% ($236 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.