Criminal activity in identity fraud touches more than a quarter of a million victims each year in Washington state, and “sucks” well more than $1 billion from the state’s economy, according to Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance. Fraud crimes account for losses more than triple that of burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft combined.
Consequently, to help policyholders protect their identities, the company has introduced a service at no additional cost called PEMCO ID Smart to assist in ID resolution, disaster resolution and travel resolution.
By teaming with Identity Theft 911, an identity management and fraud education company, the services are as follows:
— ID Resolution. Customrs have access to a fraud specialist from Identity Theft 911 who will resolve the problem and guide the person step-by-step in cleaning up the problem.
— Disaster Resolution. If a customer loses critical documents in an earthquake, flood, home fire or other disaster, there will be assistance to recapture the documentation needed to rebuild the person’s life, and to help defend against identity theft and related fraud.
— Travel Resolution. Customers will receive assistance in replacing their identification, credit cards, checks or other important personal and financial documents that are misplaced, lost or stolen while traveling.
To further promote ID fraud prevention, PEMCO is hosting a “Shred Party” on Oct. 13, where Puget Sound residents can bring up to three grocery bags full of documents that will be shredded by an industrial machine. Residents also can enter to win a home shredder.
“Shredding sensitive but unneeded financial documents is one of the simplest ways for people to protect themselves,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesman. “If they don’t shred, they leave themselves at enormous risk. People fear burglary, but they are far more likely to be hit by ID theft.”
A 2007 PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll indicated that:
— Despite an average loss of nearly $1,000 per household, nearly one in six Washington households do not bother to shred any sensitive
— Households with higher income are likelier to shred — but, conversely, are more at risk for identity theft;
— Older households (adults over 35) are more likely to shred than those under age 35.
According to Federal Trade Commission statistics, identity fraud is exploding, and Washington is one of the worst-hit states. Identity fraud in Washington nearly doubled between 2002 and 2005, with a direct economic cost of more than $1.75 billion. Statewide identity fraud losses are 3.3 times greater than the combined losses from burglary, larceny and auto theft, PEMCO said.
Source: PEMCO Insurance
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