Life Insurance Identity Theft Scam
By Henry Bagdasarian
A life insurance identity theft scam may be used to steal your personal information and commit life insurance fraud. Life insurance fraud is a $70 Billion crime per year and identity theft is a big part of the scam. Life insurance identity theft is just one type out of many identity theft scams to steal people's information and execute a variety of fraud schemes. But, life insurance fraud inherently offers the highest fraud cost per each fraud incidents when compared to all other types of identity theft.
Life insurance scammers may approach their potential victims in one of many ways such as by phone, letter, fax, e-mail or physical contact. The goal is to take something personal from you which you normally would not give away so easily to strangers such as your social security number or credit card number and then commit a fraud or crime in your name. There are many ways, forms and shapes by which an identity thief may approach and contact you including a life insurance identity theft scam. You should consider such life insurance identity theft scam suspicious until the identities of the people contacting you and their claims are validated. You should make your own due diligence to make sure the person on the other side of your conversation is who he or she says to be and their claims and requests are legitimate. We will discuss in detail how to detect a life insurance identity theft scam and how to deal with the scam. First, let’s discuss some of the scenarios in which such life insurance identity theft scam may be initiated to steal your personal information. The person contacting you may claim to be working for a life insurance company and suggest the following.
Life Insurance Identity Theft Scam Schemes
1- A life insurance policy for a dead person has your name in the beneficiary section. They need your social security number to release the payments.
2- Your policy premium payment is overdue. They will ask for a credit card or check number to process your payment.
3- Your life insurance policy has been cancelled. They need your policy number and social security number to process the cancellation request or reinstate the policy in case of an error.
4- Your policy terms have been changed and they need to go through the changes with you but need to confirm your identity first.
5- A new policy has been established with you designated as its beneficiary. They need your approval and confirmation to process.
6- A new life insurance policy has been established in your name and they need to reconfirm the policy terms before it becomes effective.
Now let’s talk about how you can verify the facts and validate the person’s identity. The life insurance identity theft scam is a game where the scammer wants to trick you to voluntarily give away your personal information and you need to figure out quickly whether this is a legitimate case or a scam in order to determine your next actions which may include:
1) here’s my information,
2) I can’t give you that information,
3) let me research and call you later or
4) hang up without any explanation.
If you can’t determine what action to take immediately and you feel pressured, just ask for more time to respond and if that’s out of the question, just hang up. If it’s a legitimate company contacting you, they’ll understand your request. The contact may be legitimate and you don’t want to ignore a legitimate request especially, if it’s an important one. Here are some verification and validation steps to determine whether this is legitimate company and request.
Life Insurance Identity Theft Scam Prevention Tips
1- Ask about the details of the case presented to you and follow-up with more questions. For example, if they claim you are the designated beneficiary on a life insurance of a dead person, find out more about the life insurance policy such as place and date of its creation, and the dead person’s background if you don’t immediately recognize the person and ask yourself, do you know that dead person, why would that person designate you as his or her life insurance beneficiary. Also ask about how the person died and you should get a straight answer. If hesitation is in the air when responding to your questions, you should ask even more questions until you are either satisfied with the details of the case or until the person hangs up on you, which is also good. A legitimate life insurance company will know the answers to all these questions and will not hang up on you.
2- If this is a call, ask for a call back number and call them back yourself. Before hanging up and calling them back, also ask about their company name, contact name and location. Then do a free reverse phone number lookup. The search results will include name of the company or person and location. If there is a match between the search results and the information the caller provided, call back and discuss the matter as stated in #1 above. Even if this is a legitimate and not a life insurance identity theft scam, make sure you only provide the information that you think is required for your case and if you don’t understand the request, ask more questions to understand why they need such information.
3- If the life insurance identity theft scam arrives via fax, check online where/who the fax number belongs to before responding and calling back. This is called reverse fax number lookup. The list of fax numbers is published by state and city. You can also verify the phone number on the fax sheet before calling back.
4- If you meet the company representative in person, ask for an ID and business card. You may ask to call the number listed on the card and do a free reverse check on the phone number on line to make sure the ID and the card are genuine. There are many fake business IDs and business cards around because they are so easy to make. Always validate.
5- If you get a letter, use the name, address, phone or fax number published on the letter and perform steps 1, 2 and/or 3 to authenticate the company’s identity.
6- If you get an e-mail, do a free search on the status of the e-mail and get its IP address. You should be even more suspicious if the e-mail is not from a legitimate company address. For example, if the e-mail claims to be from xyz life insurance company, then the e-mail should come from firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have the IP address, do a search on the IP address on the same site and you’ll know where that e-mail belongs to with a complete company name, address and other details.
I’m not suggesting that you blindly do a research on all requests. Always assess what the request is about, determine whether this is an important request that you need to follow-up with, and before you get back to the company and its representative, do your due diligence as described above and contact the company with full confidence that you have done every thing in your power to avoid a life insurance identity theft scam.
Read another life insurance article which includes a life insurance identity theft scam section.