What is Auto Insurance Fraud?

One of the most popular types of fraud today involves auto insurance, particularly in staged auto accidents.  These scams have become rather sophisticated to a point where they often involve numerous participants.  Auto insurance fraud comes in many different variations - here are some of the most common:

Swoop and Squat:  This scam typically involves three vehicles: two are driven by the con artists while one is driven by the victim.  The first con artist drives what is known as the "squat" vehicle, positioning himself in front of the victim.  The second con artist drives what is known as the "swoop" vehicle, intentionally pulling ahead to cut off the squat vehicle.  This causes the driver of the squat vehicle to slam on the brakes and come to sudden stop.  In the most cases, the victim doesn't have enough time to react and crashes into the back of the squat vehicle.  After the accident, the swoop vehicle skirts away, never to be seen again.  Even though the victim informs the police about the swoop vehicle that caused the accident, that individual can't be located, leaving the victim to pay for the damage or any personal injury claims that may result. 

Side Swipe: This is an accident that usually occurs at a busy intersection or those with dual lefthand turning lanes.  Here's how it works: a criminal positions their vehicle in the outer-left turning lane.  When a victim shifts into the outer turn lane, they're immediately side swiped by the criminal.  Now the victim is caught up in nasty debate of "he says, she says" and can find themselves liable for the accident, along with any damages. 

Panic Stop: Here is another common auto insurance scam.  In this scenario, the con artist drives a vehicle filled with numerous passengers.  From there, they position themselves in front of the victim in anticipation of the next move.  One of the passengers is then instructed to check for any signs that may indicate the visitor is distracted.  This may include activity such as constantly looking in their rearview mirror, talking on a cell phone, or making adjustments to the car stereo.   In general, they look for any signs indicating the that victim has taken their eyes off the road.  Once something of this nature has been observed, the passenger gives indication to the driver, signaling them to slam on the brakes, forcing the victim to slam right into the back of them.  Explaining that the criminal stopped suddenly is usually to no avail for the victim, leaving them to pay for all damages and injuries that may have occurred. 

Unfortunately, there is no standard method of defense against this type of fraud.  The best advice is to remain observant while on the road and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you.  If every motorist obeyed the speed limit and the laws set for distancing, accidents would be drastically reduced and auto insurance fraud wouldn't be as effective.  Sadly, this isn't reality, making it much easier for criminals to succeed with these crimes.  Because of this, you should always drive safely and smartly to greatly reduce your chance of being victimized by auto insurance fraud. 

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.