Identity theft is most commonly associated with your credit report, but it goes beyond that. Identity theft includes any abuse of your name, address, birthday, and banking details. Even basic information like knowing your name, birth date, and hometown can provide enough information for scammers to connect to other information found online or through phishing scams. This information can allow a criminal to take out a bank loan, withdraw money from your bank, or use your credit card.
Identity theft cases nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020, rising from 3.3 million reports in 2019 up to 4.8 million in 2020. This is not a problem that is going away and all Americans should be proactive and take action to protect themselves and their finances.
What is identity theft insurance?
Identity theft insurance is a special type of insurance coverage that you can add onto your existing homeowners, condo, renters, or RV policy. At Ronnie Shriner Insurance Agency we quote our identity theft insurance through Nationwide, so this article is particular to Nationwide's insurance program.
In general, identity theft insurance helps you monitor your personal data and keep it secure. If your identity is stolen or compromised, identity theft insurance will alert you, connect you with a team of Resolution and Cyber Risk specialists, and also reimburse you for attorney fees, notary and mailing costs, and even lost wages incurred by the process up to $25,000.
The benefits of identity theft insurance from Nationwide are extensive. In this article we'll outline the highlights of what you'll get with an identity theft policy. When you purchase a policy, you'll be provided with information in greater detail about how to protect yourself against identity theft, how to keep tabs on any potential threats, and how to resolve any issue that may result from your information being stolen online.
What does it cover?
Identity theft insurance through Nationwide Insurance includes four tiers of protection: prevention, monitoring, protection, and resolution. We'll break these down into sections and talk about how each one works:
Nationwide has a team that they call "cyber risk specialists" whose job it is to educate and assist you with concerns and questions you may have about how to protect your identity. You can call them with questions about best practices and what to look out for.
Let's say you receive an email or voicemail that you're unsure of. Give the cyber risk specialists a call and they can help walk you through what to look out for and what your next steps should be.
Nationwide identity theft insurance also includes access to an online portal where you can read up on home network security, email security, what to look out for when you're shopping online, accessing a public Wi-Fi network, and more.
Identity theft insurance from Nationwide uses automated monitoring to track where thieves buy and sell personal data on the internet. They don't just monitor your social security number. They'll also keep a close eye on your debit and credit cards, bank account numbers, insurance cards, driver's license, loyalty cards, passports, social media usernames, address change requests, and even your mother's maiden name.
Once you sign up for a Nationwide identity theft policy, you'll be given access to an online portal where you can see what is being monitored and if there are any red flags.
Here's an example of how this works in the real world. A scammer finds out your address and tries to initiate an address change with the USPS to have your mail rerouted to an address they can access. All new addresses are reported by Nationwide's identity theft monitoring services, so you would be notified if this happened.
Here's another example: Suddenly you're alerted that you have new employment at a job you never applied for. Without proper monitoring, how else would you know that this happened? Hackers will sometimes sell enough information for someone to acquire a job by saying they're somebody they're not (and in your case, that somebody is you).
The best part of monitoring is that you can prevent major issues by identifying it at the source. Identity theft insurance does this by utilizing something called black market surveillance. What that means is this: There are always websites, chats, and other sources online where the personal information of millions of people is bought and sold for criminal activity. The monitoring services are constantly scanning these places for your information. That way, you'll know your information is being traded before anyone actually uses it.
What happens after we identify your information has been stolen or traded? You'll receive an alert with instructions on what to do next. We'll advise you on changing your passwords, freezing credit cards and taking care of other assets that may be vulnerable.
Just a note: If you're an active duty military member, the monitoring piece is essential. Members of the military are some of the most vulnerable to financial-related fraud. That's because active duty members are the least likely to be able to keep up with their credit reports since they may be deployed for long periods of time.
Anyone who signs up for Nationwide's identity theft protection program will also be provided with Online Data Protection software. This software goes onto your personal computer and has three components. First, it monitors any attempts to access your emails, documents, and other files from being held for ransom. Second, it protects you from spyware, which is something hackers can put on your computer to steal confidential information like passwords and gain access to your computer's camera. Last, it will help prevent you from becoming prey to phishing websites that attempt to steal your information.
It may seem like overkill to use software like this on your computer. You usually don't hear about someone's personal data from their computer being held for ransom, but one little known fact about cyber crime is that it does affect individuals in addition to businesses. Many of us know not to click links in emails and texts we don't recognize, but we don't necessarily know why. The reason is that many of those links will automatically download software on your device or computer that allows hackers access to the information on that device. That's why having Nationwide's Online Data Protection software is so important.
Let's say your information has been stolen and before you can get on top of the problem, your bank account has been emptied and a loan taken out in your name. Obviously something has to be done to fix this, but the list is long and you're overwhelmed. That's where identity theft insurance can really come through for you.
When you report your identity stolen with us, you'll be assigned a case specialist who will help guide you through the process. We get it, it's a daunting list. Here's what you'll get help with:
- Helping you place a credit freeze and fraud alerts on your credit report
- Submit affadavits
- Law enforcement/government communication
- Translation services
- Data recovery
- Device cleanup (removing malware or viruses)
- Home internet security restoration (making sure your internet devices aren't vulnerable)
- Medical identity theft expertise, if applicable
Another feature of identity theft insurance is lost wallet assistance. Let's say you lost your wallet, which had your credit cards, debit cards, insurance card, driver's license, and more. We can help do the work of cancelling cards, applying for replacements on your identification and insurance cards, and more.
One more example of identity theft insurance in action: You're traveling and get a notification that your financial details have been stolen. You get help canceling credit cards and placing freezes, but now you're stuck away from home and don't have access to your money. Your case specialist can help provide you with emergency cash and get you the personal documents you need to get you through the situation.
How is it different from just monitoring my own credit?
You may already be monitoring your credit. If so, keep it up! Anything you can do to keep tabs on your personal information is good. However, by just monitoring your credit you will only be aware of any identity theft after the information has already been stolen and used for criminal activity.
Identity theft insurance doesn't just protect against getting your information stolen. What it also does is ensure that the problem is properly resolved after identity theft occurs - ideally before the information is used for illegal activity.
With that in mind, Nationwide's identity theft protection does also include identity theft monitoring. Even if you're monitoring your credit, you may not necessarily know if other information has been stolen online (like your social security number or address).
Why does my child need identity theft insurance?
Anyone who has a social security number is at risk for identity theft, but people who do this for a living know that it's easier to target someone who is less likely to be monitoring their credit. Therefore it's not surprising that children are often targets for criminals online. Don't wait until your child is 18 and applying for a college loan to find out their credit has been tanked by a thief and they won't qualify for the loan.
Senior citizens are also at higher risk of identity theft for the same reasons. Seniors are also particularly susceptible to phone scams who use tactics like posing at government organizations to trick them into sharing their personal information.
I rarely use the internet and don't share my information online. Why should I have identity theft insurance?
Even if you don't use the internet, companies that you do business with (like your bank and doctor's office) do store their client information online. We live in a digital society and it's hard to get around that fact. Hackers will often target large organizations with malware and hold databases full of personal information for ransom money. Anyone with a social security number is at risk for identity theft.
But do I really need it?
So you monitor your credit, keep track of your bank statements, and change your passwords frequently. But there are so many other ways that your identity can be stolen. Once your identity is stolen, there's a world of costs that can be associated with getting back to normal. These costs may include legal fees, loans that you may have to take out to cover legal defense, replacement of official documents, and unpaid leave from work during the process of recovery. (If you purchase through our agency we will most likely quote you for Nationwide's Identity Theft Insurance, which provides up to $25,000 in coverage.)
Having your identity stolen create a complex tangle of issues that you need to resolve with multiple agencies and organizations. Identity theft insurance not only helps you recover those associated costs, it also provides white glove service to help guide you through fixing the problem and preventing it from happening again.
How much does it cost?
At Ronnie Shriner Insurance Agency we quote our identity theft insurance through Nationwide Insurance. It's a flat rate of $45 per year and covers up to 2 adult household members. You can add other household members, including children, for an additional small fee.
Doesn't my homeowners policy cover identity theft?
It's a common misconception that your homeowner's policy would cover identity theft. Most of the time it does not. However, identity theft insurance is what's called an "endorsement" that can be added to your homeowners, renters, condo or RV policy.
One final note...
It's easy to look at something like identity theft and think, "It won't happen to me." We never like to imagine ourselves in a situation like that. But the reality is that identity theft is becoming more of an issue with every passing year.
It can be overwhelming to try and understand why you might need so much protection. Most of us don't have the expertise needed to understand how hackers can manipulate databases to acquire mass amounts of information to be sold on the black market online. But it happens every day. You don't have to understand how it works to be able to put preventative measures in place - that's where identity theft insurance comes into play.
If you're looking for identity theft insurance in Richmond VA, look no further than Ronnie Shriner Insurance Agency. Located in Glen Allen, we've been providing quality insurance services for our neighbors since 1989.