I haven’t been in many car accidents, but the ones I have I abide by the rule of thumb to call the cops and have them present for the aftermath. But of course, police aren’t called to the scene of every accident, especially fender benders and minor bumps. And of course everybody knows to take down the other guy’s insurance and personal information, right? Nobody ever wants to walk away from a situation like that with too little info. But the question becomes how much information is too much information? It had never occurred to me that you could get too much or give too much in that sort of scenario, but according to the below article, the type of information you give out or request from your fender-bender-buddy could be the same information that thieves use to steal identities. (Shiver.) This is what Michelle Singletary of the Washington Post has to say about it:
“Thank goodness, I haven’t been in many automobile accidents. But after the one major wreck I was in involving another driver, I took down quite a bit of information.
The accident wasn’t my fault. Nonetheless, I wanted to make sure the other driver wouldn’t try to change his story after I contacted his insurance company. I had my reporter’s notebook handy and took down the guy’s driver’s license number, insurance information, home telephone number (it was long before cellphones were ubiquitous) and his home address. I even collected similar information from a witness to the accident. When I called to report the wreck, the claims representative was impressed with how thorough I had been.
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 (NAIC). But this was years before crooks really knew how valuable personal information can be.
Click here to read how much is too much, and exactly what you should be asking for and giving out after an accident.
So a good take-away from this story is to always be on your guard when supplying personal information. Even better, if you don’t get into a car accident in the first place, you won’t have to worry about it– so being on your guard while on the road is a pretty decent moral as well!