Instant Insights / Identity theft & protecting personal data

There are no shortage of opportunities for hackers and other fraudsters to gain access to personal and financial information throughout the year, but the holidays seem to magnify them because of the increases in shopping, entertaining and travel.


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Protecting your identity. Beware of the personal information you share on social media. Birth dates and where you were born can be used to steal your identity. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The amount of information available online these days makes it much easier for fraudsters to access personal data and use it to create fake IDs, open new credit card accounts or send bogus emails under someone else’s name.

For instance, to perpetrate medical identity theft, a fraudster only needs your name, social security number and date of birth to use your medical insurance for someone having an operation. You are sent the bill and held responsible for the deductible, even though you didn’t physically have the procedure. Once this individual uses your insurance, your records are tied together indefinitely, although under HIPPA regulations, you won’t be able to see the fraudster’s actual medical record for privacy reasons. Ironic isn’t it?

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Patricia L. Harman

Patricia L. Harman is the editor-in-chief of Claims magazine, a contributing editor to PropertyCasualty360.com, and chairs the annual America's Claims Event (ACE), which focuses on providing claims professionals with cutting-edge education and networking opportunities. She covers auto, property & casualty, workers' compensation, fraud, risk and cybersecurity, and is a frequent speaker at insurance industry events. Contact her at [email protected]

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