Thankfully, I haven’t been in many auto accidents. But the one major crash I was in involving another driver, I took down a lot of information.
The accident wasn’t my fault. Nonetheless, I wanted to make sure the other driver wouldn’t try to change his story . I took down his driver’s license number, insurance information, home telephone number, and his home address. I even collected similar information from a witness.
Turns out most of the information I gathered could have put the driver and the witness in jeopardy of identity theft, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
It would appear I’m not alone in what information I mistakenly think needs to be collected following an auto accident. You only generally need to give the other driver your name and insurance information, which should include the name and phone number of your insurer.
Don’t share personal information, such as your driver’s license number, home address, or your telephone number, the association says.
And yet 40 percent of the people surveyed by the association felt they had to give their driver’s license numbers. One in six would permit the other driver to photograph their license as a quick way to exchange information. The problem is your driver’s license number — after your Social Security number and date of birth — is commonly used to verify your identity. A quarter of the survey participants said that following an accident, they would share their home addresses. Almost 30 percent of drivers think they are required to share their personal phone numbers.
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 purpose of stealing personal information?
“It’s very chaotic and intense after an accident and as a result most people have a tendency to give out more information than they should,” said NAIC president Kevin McCarty. “Certainly staged accidents are a very common way to defraud consumers and insurance companies. You have to be careful by only sharing information that is vital to complete the accident report.”
The NAIC has developed a mobile application, WreckCheck, that takes you through what you should do after an accident. You get prompts that recommend among other things that you take pictures of the license plate and landmarks. The app will allow you to e-mail to yourself or your insurer an accident report. It’s free and available for iPhone and Android phones.
However, you can still get the information the old-fashioned way. NAIC offers a form at www.insureuonline.org. Keep a copy in your glove compartment. Please note that the downloadable form and the mobile app have a place to collect driver’s license information with an asterisk noting that such information is not required.