You may not see identity theft as a primary concern after a natural disaster-but evacuations and a lack of home security can put your sensitive information at risk. Learn what can make you vulnerable and what measures you can take to protect yourself and your family after a disaster hits close to home.
After a disaster, you're focused on the basics: finding a place to stay, securing food and water, and, above all else, protecting your family. But during this uncertain time, it's important to pay attention to more subtle threats as well-including the heightened risk of identity theft and fraud.
Having the right insurance coverage can help you protect yourself if you should fall victim to identity theft. Allstate's Identity Restoration Coverage provides high-quality fraud assistance, handling everything from proactive fraud alerts to inquiries from creditors. From the moment you contact us, a fraud specialist helps lock down your personal information and repairs any damage to your identity. The coverage includes:
- Proactive services: Locking out thieves when a possible compromise occurs
- Resolution services: Notifying creditors of a security breach and preparing important documents required to restore your identity
Paying your bills electronically can also lessen the chances of identity theft by ending your paper trail. Allstate eBill allows you to manage your bill from your email, limiting the amount of paper susceptible to being stolen by scammers. Allstate offers three options for receiving your eBill:
- Allstate's My Account: View your bill by visiting your online profile, My Account, at Allstate.com
- MyCheckFree: Organize all your electronic bills in one place
- Your Bank or Credit Union: Find out whether your bank or credit union's website allows you to pay common bills, including your Allstate eBill, online
One reason identity theft is such a big concern after a natural disaster is that criminals know that affected areas have been evacuated and are ripe for looting. In the rush to flee with only the essentials, many people leave behind important documents, such as birth certificates and social security cards. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) recommends storing those items, along with a copy of other important financial or identitying documents in a locked box or large waterproof plastic bag and taking them with you when you evacuate.
According to the ITRC, common types of identity theft scams include:
- "Phishing Scams": Thieves pretend to call from a company that lost data-such as your bank account, credit card or social security number. No matter how official the caller sounds, never give them your information. Legitimate companies will not contact you this way.
- Relief Group Solicitations: Scam artists call and ask for donations in the wake of a disaster. Remember, however, that during a time of crisis groups don't really have time to do anything but attend to the needs of disaster victims. You should donate to a reputable organization-only if you are the one to make contact first.
For more tips on protecting yourself, especially after a natural disaster, be sure to read our "How Can I Protect Myself from Identity Theft?" article. And to begin protecting your identity today, use our online tool to find an Allstate agent near you or call us at 1.866.621.6900.
Published: March 2012