ID Theft possible after auto accident: what info do you give?

auto accidentHopefully you won’t have an auto accident. Hopefully you can avoid auto accident scams (and google the term for even more types of auto accident scams). A lot of the advice given in these articles you google include giving the other party your driver’s license number, name, address, phone number, etc. It seems prudent to collect all this information from the other party, and in return give them all your information as well.

Who should collect this information for you? The police who investigate the accident. If you are on private property (most commonly a parking lot somewhere) you may not have police response (unless someone is hurt). Seems to me if they don’t want the police involved, that this might be a warning sign for you … keep reading. If there is no police or no police report to collect the information properly … then read on.

Why not give them information? Identity Theft!

Accidents Happen: Take steps to protect yourself, your property and your identity on the NAIC website discusses what info to give to someone else (the bare essentials: your name and vehicle insurance information (company and phone number) and vehicle license number (not your address or phone number)) and what you should get in return.  The insurance company can find the person who owns the other car with the vehicle license number and their insurance information. Then … let your insurance company handle the rest (that’s what you pay the premiums for). Too much information in a strangers hands may set you up for ID theft (search term at ftc.gov).

Here’s a great article at the Washington Post: The Color of Money: What information to share after an auto accident By Michelle Singletary “Don’t share personal information, such as your driver’s license number, home address or even your telephone number, the association says.” “The last thing you are probably thinking about after an accident is someone stealing your identity. But what if the accident is staged for the specific purpose of stealing your personal information?” However, if another driver is unable to provide vehicle ownership and/or  insurance information it is appropriate to ask for their phone number, address and  driver’s license number (but don’t give them yours – because you do have insurance).

Many forms you find online include lots of information gathering (and thus sharing yours too reciprocally). Yours is true and theirs might be false. Let the insurance company deal with those issues. Just collect the bold info above and turn if over to the insurance company and authorities. Most forms and thought on the topic were developed before the days of the internet and data bases, etc, and haven’t been changed for today’s reality. Nowadays, it doesn’t take much to find someone … and that makes it also easy for ID theft too. Thus … the NAIC is telling us to change our habits in this case.

You may be protecting a lot more than just your auto because once they have your identity everything you have, and don’t have is theirs too (e.g., credit use theft, IRS refund theft, Medical ID theft, etc)!

So a staged accident takes us full circle to where I began … and why you should be wary.

About Larry Frank, Sr.

Larry R Frank Sr., MBA, CFP®, is an experienced financial advisor and a published author on Retirement Planning Research. Have a financial question? Click Here to Ask Larry

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