INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
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NEW YORK, August 1, 2005 - Burglars who break into your home this summer may be after more than your jewelry and electronic equipment - your identity may be stolen as well.
As you leave on vacation, protect yourself against a physical or a virtual break-in, warns the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Most burglaries occur in July and August and losses due to burglaries totaled 3.5 billion in 2003, with residential burglaries averaging around $1,600 according to the FBI.
"Once in your home, a burglar can easily obtain credit card information, social security numbers or other identification information by going over personal documents in a home or stealing the family computer," says Jeanne M. Salvatore, consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the country, according to the Federal Trade Commission, with more than 10 million victims last year.
Losses to credit cards average $18,000, but victims are generally only liable for the first $50 dollars for each card.
Insurance is available for identity theft, providing reimbursement to victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports. Some companies include it as part of their homeowners insurance policy. Others sell it as a stand alone policy or as an endorsement to a homeowners or renters insurance policy. On average, these policies cost between $25 and $50 for $15,000 to $25,000 worth of coverage. Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement for expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs and sometimes attorney fees with the prior consent of the insurer. Some companies offer resolution or restoration services that will guide you in the process of recovering your identity.
Standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for theft of personal possessions and damage to the home caused by the break-in. With replacement cost coverage, which is only about 10 percent more than actual cash value coverage, damaged property is replaced without deducting for depreciation.
Follow these preventive measures to keep your home safe:
As you prepare to leave on vacation follow these additional steps:
For information on homeowners or identity theft insurance, access the I.I.I.'s website ( http://www.iii.org ).
The I.I.I. is a non-profit, communications organization supported by the property/casualty insurance business.