In your rearview mirror, you noticed the driver’s headlights entering tailgating territory. A quick feathering of your brakes did nothing to convince the driver to put some distance between his car and yours. While you may have anticipated the crash that ensued, you may have not predicted how you’d respond after the collision: fear of bodily harm, concern for costs associated with car repair and anxiety over an unplanned shift in the day’s schedule. Most drivers experience this range of emotions after having been involved in an accident; however, the fact that this may be a common reaction doesn’t make it any less personal.
While drivers may not be able to control how they’ll respond to fender bender, they can prepare for the event by equipping themselves with knowledge so that their emotions don’t dictate the terms of the accident resolution. If you have been following our blog, you are familiar with steps you should and shouldn’t take after being involved in a car accident. Remaining on the scene of the accident, contacting police and exchanging insurance information are steps that should be taken to ensure that accident is properly documented. Additionally, if you don’t want to go out of pocket for the accident, you will want a copy of the accident report to ensure that your insurance provides coverage.
In the process of exchanging information with the other driver, however, there is some personal information that you should not reveal. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), many motorists tend to overshare when they provide personal information in the immediate aftermath of a car accident.
Disclosing this type of information is not necessary and may lead to identity theft down the road:
1. Driver’s license
This government document contains valuable information for identity thieves. If you allow a stranger to photograph your driver’s license, the recorded image can be used to create a fake driver’s license that connects to your driving record. In replacing your picture with someone else’s likeness, a counterfeiter can use this document to foist blame for a travel violation onto you. Additionally, the license may allow others to open lines of credit at retail shops.
2. Home address
Those who shred envelopes that contain their addresses or bills that contain account numbers know the value of keeping their personal information private. The same caution should be extended to the type of information shared with strangers. While a home address may appear to be public information, details of residency can be used in the post office to forward mail to a new address, rerouting bills and account information to the location of an identity thief’s choosing.
3. Phone number
According to the NAIC poll, nearly 30 percent of drivers questioned believed that providing their personal phone numbers to the other motorist after a collision was an appropriate action to take. As with the two other types of information identified, this number should be kept private. Police officers responding to the accident will obtain the necessary information. Data recorded on the police report will usually suffice for an insurance claim.
In the aftermath of an accident, the inundation of emotions and concerns that are released can cloud judgment. Although you may feel compelled to share personal, identifying information in order to ensure an insurance payout for a claim, be judicious with the data you reveal. All of this information you can rattle off without a moment’s hesitation may be used to jettison your credit rating when identity thieves use it to open credit cards or apply for a driver’s license in your name. Don’t let a post-collision divulgence imperil your identity and credit rating.