Quite likely most other insurance companies will match this within a year.
By Eileen Alt Powell Associated Press
NEW YORK, March 27 -- MetLife Inc., one of the nation's largest insurers, is rolling out a new program this week to provide free help in resolving cases of identity theft for all of its homeowner insurance policyholders.
Noel Edsall, director of MetLife Auto & Home product development, said the ID theft resolution service would be launched first in New York and Florida, then expand nationwide.
While several insurance companies sell ID theft coverage, mainly to reimburse consumers for their costs in dealing with misuse of credit cards or other accounts, MetLife would be the first that works with consumers to resolve their problems at no cost.
The program, which will be available to the nearly 1 million MetLife homeowners and renters policyholders, comes at a time of heightened concern over ID theft. In recent weeks, several data collection companies have disclosed that thousands of their records were tapped by thieves. ID theft tops the list of frauds reported to the Federal Trade Commission, which coordinates federal fraud prevention efforts.
Edsall said that the program will help consumers with identity theft, which can involve a fraudster taking over someone's identity and opening new accounts or buying cars, as well as account takeovers, which often involves the theft of a credit card.
Matt Cullina, manager of the MetLife team that developed the new service, said that MetLife policyholders who are victimized by ID thieves will be urged to call the MetLife call center listed on their policies. From there they will be directed to specialists at Identity Theft 911 LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz., which provides ID theft resolution services.
Sheryl Cox Christenson, the company's chief executive, said Identity Theft 911 "serves as an advocate," providing services that include preparing affidavits, contacting police and notifying credit bureaus on a consumer's behalf.
Several major banks, including Citigroup Inc. and Washington Mutual Inc., offer free identity theft services for customers, but they generally focus on the most onerous cases. There are also a number of nonprofit groups that provide advice to ID theft victims, including the Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego, which operates the site
Copyright 2005 The Washington Post Company
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