I reviewed my credit card statement recently and was surprised to find that I had paid a utility bill in California and purchased a widescreen TV in Colorado. Since I live in New York, I was pretty certain it was not a matter of my poor memory. More recently, bus ticket purchases from Mexico were denied by my credit card company. I don’t know how these thieves were able to get my credit card number, but I do know this is part of the risk of living in an increasingly electronic-dependent society.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2010, 7% of households in the U.S., or about 8.6 million households, had at least one member who experienced one or more types of identity theft victimization. This represents a 5.5% increase from 2005. Many identity thefts come about from stolen credit cards or laptops, friends and acquaintances with access to your personal information, or a corrupt employee stealing from you. According to the Federal Trade Commission, when personal information is stolen, it is with the intent to gain access to a credit card account (60%) or to access bank accounts (19%). Accordingly, there are usually strong illegal financial motives behind identity thefts.
The good news is that some rescue mission insurance policies do include identity theft protection for the present directors and officers. Coverage includes those expenses incurred as the direct result of thefts occurring, discovered, and reported during the policy period. With identity thefts ever increasing in households across America, it is a good idea to know if you have protection before you discover your personal information has been stolen.