Mackay Insurance Blog
The term "identity theft" makes normal, sane adults quake in fear. Statistics support that the fear is well-founded. Not only is identity theft increasing throughout Canada, but it is increasing rapidly.
The Government of Canada's Competition Bureau reports that, as of 2017, Canadians have lost nearly $300 million to identity theft in the past two years!
Complaints of identity theft lodged with the Bureau increased from 70,000 to 90,000 in just 12 months. That is a 28% increase and an additional 20,000 victims in just one calendar year!
Why do we bring this up here and now? For two reasons:
You, just like every Canadian, are at risk no matter how careful you are
Your homeowners insurance policy may be able to offer you protection against identity theft.
How Identity Theft Happens
If only there was just one way that identity theft could occur! We could all protect ourselves against that method. Unfortunately, identity theft scams are becoming more devious every day. From outright physical mail theft to online phishing, from email trickery to phone surveys, identity thieves can be remarkably patient. They collect small pieces of the sensitive data required to insert themselves into your financial life—and with disastrous results.
It is common for identity scammers to start with small thefts and work their way up. If the small scams remain undetected, they will continue to chip away at your identity toward a much larger theft.
How to Protect & Monitor Your Identity
We highly recommend these simple tips to monitor and protect your identity on an ongoing basis:
Always shred any document with your name, address, phone number, or any sensitive personal information printed on it—even junk mail!
Collect your physical mail daily so identity thieves don't have a chance to get to it first.
NEVER give ANY personal or financial information to ANYONE whom you do not know AND trust—whether this is over email, phone, fax, text, chat, or any other means.
Guard your online identity like a hawk. This includes passwords, personal PIN numbers, social media contact information, photo/video location tagging, and any other place you go online.
Regularly change your passwords and personal PIN numbers. Make the new ones sufficiently complex that you have trouble remembering them (if you struggle, chances are good identity thieves will struggle too!).
Use an encrypted password keeper program or app to store this type of information for your personal use.
Do not allow online e-commerce portals to remember your credit card data for future transactions—shopping online as a "guest" is the safest option.
Review your banking and credit card use transactions frequently (weekly or more frequently is ideal) and immediately follow up on any unknown or suspicious-appearing transactions.
Monitor your credit report and credit score at least once or twice annually and look carefully for discrepancies.
You can also monitor the Competition Bureau's Consumer Alerts webpage to be aware of newly identified individual and business scams.
How Homeowners Insurance Can Protect Your Identity
Here at Mackay Insurance, our clients are sometimes surprised to learn that their existing homeowners insurance policy can also offer protection from identity theft. Our new clients, of course, are delighted by this news!
How can homeowners insurance protect your identity from thieves? The term "identity theft insurance" can be confusing. Let’s use the example of unauthorized credit card purchases to understand the two separate problems that identity theft causes. First, the thief has used your credit card information to pay for their $3,000 vacation. If you follow the procedures from your credit card company, those charges on your credit card can usually be reversed.
However, you now have a second and potentially bigger problem—and this is where your home insurance coverage can help. Someone out there has your identity.
- You may need to notarize fraud affidavits for law enforcement agencies. That costs money.
- You may need to notify government agencies or financial institutions by registered mail.
- You may need to take time off work to talk with people who are available only during your work hours, and this can cost you lost wages.
- You may need to pay fees for new loan applications.
- You may actually end up being sued by someone who was defrauded by the identity thief while they were pretending to be you. Legal expenses can add up quickly.
It is mostly in this second category of expenses (getting your identity back) that your home insurance policy can step in and help you.
As with any insurance, here are some important things to look at with identity theft insurance:
What is the amount the insurance company is insuring you for?
What events (perils) does the insurance company cover?
What is the deductible (the amount you need to pay if you have a claim)?
What do you need to do? With identity theft insurance, there is usually a requirement that you work with law enforcement and do the reasonable things you can do, such as cancel the compromised credit card.
What are the exclusions? This is sometimes called the “fine print” in the policy. It is not actually in fine print—and it is one of the most important parts of an insurance policy for you to understand. For example, with identity theft coverage on your home insurance policy, identity theft arising from your business pursuits are usually excluded. If you run a business, call us about separate identity theft Insurance for your business.
More About Mackay Insurance
Here at Mackay Insurance, we just celebrated our 40th anniversary! Over this time, we have grown from a tiny firm with just 25 clients to a thriving multi-location insurer with 5,000+ happy clients!
We are passionate about helping our clients guard against identity theft with the right insurance. Visit our video library for an informative video about homeowners insurance protection from identity theft and many other useful topics! Or just give us a call at 888-853-5552 to learn more.