FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016
Burglars who break into your home this summer may be after more than your jewelry and electronic equipment—they may also steal your identity. As you prepare to leave on vacation, it is important to protect yourself against both a physical and a virtual break-in.
Most burglaries occur in July and August and homeowners insurance claims due to theft total about $1 billion annually, with the average claim around $2,500.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the country, according to the Federal Trade Commission, with more than nine million victims annually. The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in a person’s name. The victims may not find out about the theft until they review their credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges they did not make—or until they are contacted by a debt collector. Losses to credit cards average $7,000, and while victims are generally only liable for the first $50 for each card, they may also end up spending hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some victims may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
The I.I.I. recommends following these preventive measures to keep your home safe:
- Keep your home well lit. Mount exterior lights in your yard or on your house so that they are out of reach of would-be burglars. Put indoor lights on a timer.
- Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Dead-bolt window and door locks can slow a burglar down. You may qualify for a discount of 2 to 5 percent on your insurance policy for installing these devices.
- Make it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective systems ring at an outside service, which alerts the police, fire or other emergency service. A sophisticated alarm system could result in insurance discounts of 15 to 20 percent.
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