Insurance offered for identity theft

Amid warnings about the risk of identity theft, Canadian insurance companies have begun offering policies that help defray the cost of setting things right, if you fall victim.

Identity theft occurs when a crook uses another person’s name and other personal information such as social insurance number, credit-card number or bank account illegally to make purchases, borrow money or make some other costly transactions without the victim’s consent or even knowledge.

According to research by Phonebusters, a national anti-fraud organization…, thousands of Canadians a year report cases of identity theft — although the rate may be lower now than it was a few years ago.

It can be time-consuming and costly for innocent victims of identity theft to compile the information and get the legal advice required to verify they aren’t at fault. It’s those expenses — such as lost wages, lawyer and notary fees and courier charges — that are covered by identity theft insurance.

“Those are where the real expenses come in. It’s not the $5,000 or $10,000 loan. It’s the expense of clearing everything up,” says Bryan Seaton, spokesman for ING Canada, which recently began offering identity theft protection across Canada.

There has been increased public awareness of the measures — such as shredding documents with account numbers, proper storage of passwords and account numbers and software protections for your computer — that can be taken to prevent your personal information from getting into the wrong hands.

“We have a duty to defend your title. So we do what we can to get it resolved. Or, in a worst-case scenario, we can pay out the money that you’ve lost as a result of this problem,” says Kathleen Waters, vice-president of Title Plus, a service provided by Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Co.

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