In the digital age, identity theft is far from a foreign concept. There are many different ways thieves can hack, swipe, and steal your information online. We continue to more and more personal data onto the Internet, and with this comes a growing number of ways we protect ourselves from these threats. But the trend of guarding ourselves online can leave us vulnerable in ways we overlook. Such is the case with auto identity theft.
It’s great to protect against online threats but we can’t forget about the practical ways thieves can steal information in the real world. What may be surprising to many motorists is that your auto insurance policy can be a target for gathering information.
Auto insurance identity theft can risk your finances, reputation, and even your insurance coverage. But knowing how it works, what puts you at risk, and how to prevent it can help you mitigate your risks. Let’s explore how to limit this risk and what to do should you become a victim.
How Auto Insurance Identity Theft Works
Most states in the U.S. require drivers to carry proof of insurance on them as they drive. Auto insurance in Texas is no exception and failing to have proof can lead to fines, your vehicle being impounded, and a host of other troubles.
Around 200,000 vehicles are burglarized in Texas each year, and while many thieves may be looking for a quick score, others are playing the long game.
Drivers often keep their proof of insurance in their glove boxes or center consoles. It’s a convenient, easy place to gain access when necessary while also keeping peace of mind that it’s always on you.
But these are some of the first places thieves will look once they gain access to your vehicle. Maybe it’s a smash-and-grab, perhaps grand theft auto, or something in between. No matter how it goes down, thieves now have access to your personal information.
It may not seem like much information but as efforts become more complex, a lot less is needed these days to accomplish ill will. Your name, the make of your vehicle, and your address can help others commit fraud among other things including hacking your online accounts.
While your vehicle may not be the first one you’ve ever owned, it is or is simply a newer year model for some. Such answers are a common way to reset passwords online.
But stealing your personal info off of your insurance information isn’t the only trick thieves have up their sleeves when it comes to auto identity theft. There are plenty of avenues you’ll need to be aware of.
Thieves Have More Than One Way To Steal Your ID
Suffering from identity theft because of car insurance comes in many forms. Some are online while others are in the physical world and go beyond stealing your name off of a piece of paper kept in your vehicle. Here’s what else drivers should look out for:
There are a couple of ways this can go down, but none of them are good for keeping your personal information safe. For starters, the proof of insurance stolen from your vehicle can be used to access other pieces of information stored on websites through auto-filled forms.
If you use a website and have your information saved, there is at least the chance thieves can access it using personal information from your insurance which can snowball into much greater threats of fraud.
Receiving an online form from a fake company that looks legitimate is another way drivers are tricked. Be aware that just because something looks like a major brand, doesn’t always mean it is.
Unless you’re doing something such as registering your vehicle after moving to a new state, you probably don’t give much thought to your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your VIN can be used by thieves in a number of ways including registering stolen vehicles or even having your vehicle’s keys duplicated.
Combined with other personal information, this could leave you vulnerable to grand theft auto as well as the various other issues that can come with fraud. You could find that there are car loans in your name or even find yourself as a suspect in grand theft auto yourself. Savvy thieves are known to use VINs at dealerships, take a “test drive”, and simply never return leaving you and the dealership to pick up the pieces.
Identifying Risk Factors
Knowing the risk factors that coincide with auto identity theft is important. But they do nobody any good if they are not assessed and protected against. Here are some of the several factors that could put you at risk of being a victim:
- You leave personal information in your vehicle pertaining to your auto insurance policy.
- Your vehicle is left unlocked and in less-than-secure locations.
- The holidays are a notorious time for break-ins specifically around New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
- If you participate in online activities that may leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks you may be at risk.
- It’s always a good idea to have credit monitoring and identity theft protection. The right home insurance policy can help you stay protected.
Auto Insurance After Identity Theft
Finding affordable auto insurance in Texas after suffering from identity theft becomes an even more difficult task than it is beforehand. This is unfortunate as the Lone Star State is already known to have some of the highest premiums in the country.
Your car insurance premiums are created by insurance carriers determining how much risk you pose as a client. To do this, they all look at a variety of variables and if you are a risky client, you’ll pay higher rates.
Some factors you can control and others are out of your hands. In many cases, controlling your credit score is something you can play a role in, and it’s one of the factors carriers will look at. However, identity theft can wreck your credit even if you do everything right on your end.
This is why it’s not only important to stay protected against such incidents but to also work with an insurance provider well-versed in handling such delicate matters.
Furthermore, while all carriers are going to look at this factor, they aren’t all going to weigh the risks in the same way. This is why you can see different auto insurance prices from brand to brand even though the coverage is the same.
Shopping around different brands and comparing their policies and prices helps drivers identify the cheapest form of protection while on the road without cutting back on coverage. If you’ve dealt with identity theft and are in need of car insurance, our agents can help.
We have established relationships with more than 25 top-rated, trusted carriers and can help you receive the lowest premium for great protection no matter your circumstances. Ask an agent today or give us a call.
How To Prevent Identity Theft Auto Insurance Complications
While the threat of auto insurance identity theft is everpresent, there are plenty of things drivers can do to help limit their risks. Of course, no matter what you do, issues may arise, but by doing everything in your power to prevent such attacks, you’ll be setting yourself up for success:
Use Mobile Insurance Apps
Many auto insurance carriers offer mobile apps for their clients that safely keep your proof of insurance stored and ready for use. It’s unlikely that you’ll leave your phone in a vehicle unattended and while nothing is ever 100%, there are cybersecurity features in place to help keep your info away from prying eyes.
Lock Your Vehicle
Admittedly, this may not be the best solution. Vehicles have plenty of windows and thieves can quickly access locked cars leaving you with stolen goods and a mess. But preventative measures can and do still work against those looking for easier targets.
Keep Your Vehicle in a Secure Area
Locking your car is one thing but keeping it in a secure location is quite another. This could be a locked garage, behind a gate, in the care of trusted professionals, and so on. Be sure to avoid locations that are not well lit and always listen to your gut. Home security systems, flood lights, and pet dogs can also help keep dishonest people at bay.
Exercise Caution While Filling Out Forms Online
Every day those that wish us harm are getting more sophisticated with their attacks. Lead forms can look deceivingly like the real thing and trick honest people into filling out vital information without ever knowing otherwise. There are plenty of ways to tell whether or not a website is fake, but here are some of the key points all Internet users should know:
- Look for “HTTPS” for a secure connection, not “HTTP” in front of the website you are browsing before clicking or filling out anything.
- If you aren’t expecting an email from a specific company then it’s probably fraud. For example, if you’re receiving emails from “Progressive” yet you’ve been enrolled with “Travelers” for years, it’s likely spam.
- Note whether or not your Internet browser is telling you something is secure, not secure, or just straight up a scam. Many, including Google Chrome, can identify some fraudulent sites, although this isn’t something you can rely on 100% of the time.
- Auto-fill can save you time and drain your bank account. Just having your name off of your proof of insurance may be enough for thieves with the right software to target other pieces of info “safely” stored away—exercise caution.
- Always trust your gut. If something feels off about a website or if there are a lot of popups or spelling errors, leave immediately.
Invest in Identity Theft Coverage Through Your Home Insurance
Homeowners have options to protect against identity theft with their home insurance coverage. Speaking with an agent can help you build coverage that works to protect against identity theft among other threats to your household.
Here at Freedom Insurance Group, our agents are here to help you find coverage that is specific to your needs. This includes creating insurance bundles that help you stay protected against losses to both your home and auto.
By bundling your policies together, you can access discounts for your protection that help lower your costs and mitigate your risks. We’re here to help you shop and compare coverage among providers you can trust.
From helping our clients avoid auto identity theft to providing them with an average of 40% in savings when switching, we take pride in helping Texans however we can. Contact us today or get a free homeowners insurance quote or auto insurance quote.