Your vehicle and identity theft could be partners in crime

It is estimated that one-third of all motor-vehicle thefts could potentially translate into identity theft because the contents of the vehicle reveal personal information about the owner. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, there were 721,053 motor-vehicle thefts in the U.S. in 2012, equating to 1,975 vehicles per day.

Your car, truck or SUV will almost always be an opportunity for ID theft. In order to finance a vehicle, register it, acquire license plates and insurance, you are required to share your personally identifiable information. State law requires that you possess your vehicle registration and proof of insurance when driving. Most of us simply keep this information in our cars.

So what can happen when financing a vehicle? Specific to auto dealerships, there have been multiple news reports on how auto dealers lose vehicles to identity thieves acting as a new-car buyer while fraudulently using someone else’s personally identifiable information to create fake identification and credentials. Once the vehicles are purchased, the actual individuals whose information was stolen are stuck with the problem of resolving these fraudulent purchases.

At the same time, there have been a number of news reports on how individual consumers have been victimized by auto-dealership employees who have stolen the personal information of customers. This has resulted in the opening of fraudulent credit cards and personal loans of individual car-buying customers.

“The fact is your car is your identity,” said Joe Annoreno, CEO of Scottsdale based Vero, LLC, an automotive finance and insurance products company. Annoreno said “the contents of your car, such as a laptop, smartphone, tax information, driver’s license, insurance card, registration, garage door opener and personal mail/bills increase your risk of identity theft if your information is not locked up and secure.”

Unbelievably, 31 percent of drivers fail to lock their vehicle doors, and 14 percent leave the keys in the ignition, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. But even if we do lock our vehicles, it doesn’t stop various third parties and burglars from accessing your personal info.

When using car-wash services, valet services, auto-repair services, or any other automotive-related service where you give an unfamiliar person access to your vehicle, you should either take the contents from your vehicle or secure the contents to prevent any individual from stealing your personal information.

Marks Most Important: Protect your vehicle documents as if they were cash and regularly check for unusual activities after purchasing a vehicle or after it’s been in the possession of others.

Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., a national ID-theft and background-screening provider based in Phoenix. Reach him at markpribish@merchantsinfo.com.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2014/05/15/vehicle-identity-theft-partners-crime/2154416/

Technorati Tags: ,

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply