Our fight against insurance fraud
Insurance fraud takes many forms, from inflating a claim to faking a disability. It occurs when individuals intentionally deceive an insurance company to collect money that isn't rightfully theirs.
Each year insurance fraud costs all types of insurance companies and their customers billions of dollars. In fact, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud estimates that insurance fraud costs Americans at least $80 billion a year. Northwestern Mutual is proactive in its effort to fight insurance fraud, and we are continually improving our procedures for prevention, detection and investigation of insurance fraud.
Passing on costs, passing on savings
Each incident of fraud forces insurance companies to absorb unnecessary expenses. Those excess expenses can cause companies to raise premium rates. Or, in the case of mutual insurance companies, those expenses may result in lower dividend amounts for policyowners. Conversely, when fraud decreases, the money an insurance company saves can be passed on to its policyowners.
What is insurance fraud?
According to The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud "Insurance fraud occurs when people deceive an insurance company or agent to obtain policies or collect money to which they are not entitled. Similarly, insurers and agents also can defraud customers, or even each other."
Some examples of insurance fraud include:
- Intentionally failing to disclose significant medical conditions or other material facts on an insurance application.
- Collecting disability benefits after returning to work.
- A representative who bills a client personally without delivering a policy.
- Unscrupulous health care providers who bill twice for the same service or for services not provided.
- Attempting to collect life insurance benefits while the insured is alive.
- A physician who assists a claimant by certifying an unfounded disability claim.
- Taking an unauthorized loan on a life insurance policy by an individual.
What is being done?
Northwestern Mutual has a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) whose responsibility is to investigate suspected fraud and to help local law enforcement officials prosecute offenders. The SIU works to detect, prevent and resolve fraudulent activities perpetrated against Northwestern Mutual.
Additionally, many states actively prosecute insurance fraud through established fraud bureaus. We urge you to visit your state's department of insurance Website for information about insurance fraud specific to your state. Also, the following organizations maintain Websites that provide information about the problem of insurance fraud:
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
- Coalition Against Insurance Fraud
- National Fraud Information Center
- National Healthcare Anti-Fraud Association
- Health Insurance Association of America
What to do if you suspect fraud
If you suspect insurance fraud has been committed against Northwestern Mutual or Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, call our toll-free Fraud Detection Line at 1-877-607-2485 or email the SIU at email@example.com. Or, contact your state's insurance fraud bureau.
When contacting the SIU, please provide the following information, if possible:
- Name and address of the person or business.
- The person's age
- Name of the person's employer or business.
- Details of the suspected fraud.
- The person's relationship to Northwestern Mutual (employee, policyowner, insured, service provider, financial representative).
- The type of policy in question (life, disability, group disability, long-term care, annuity).
Email Hacking Fraud
Illegal access to an email account
Email hacking occurs when any unauthorized person accesses another person's email account. This allows the criminal to read and use any content in the email account—contacts, saved documents, sent items, etc. The criminal can then impersonate the email account owner to obtain funds from existing accounts, open new accounts for money transfers, make unauthorized purchases, and open new credit accounts. Keep in mind that anything in a hacked email account has likely already been copied by criminals, enabling them to continue to impersonate the real owner. If you believe a fraudster has accessed your email account, we recommend that you take the following actions to protect yourself:
Contact your email provider
- Contact your email provider (Gmail, Yahoo, your internet service provider), and follow the recommended steps to reclaim possession of your account.
- Simply changing the password will not effectively keep the fraudster out.
- Change your password on any other account where you used the same or similar password as your hacked email account. You should never use the same password across multiple accounts.
- If you use the hacked email account as a login for other sites, change your passwords and logins for those immediately.
- Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all your accounts that offer MFA.
Contact all institutions where your information may be at risk
- Consider other information that has been shared using the hacked email account both currently and in the past (for example, sending tax information to an accountant, etc.).
- Alert others (financial institutions, business partners, friends) of the situation:
- Ask them to stop communicating via the hacked email account and remove it from their records.
- Consider creating a new email account using MFA and a unique password of at least 14 characters.
- Provide them with your new email address.
- Ask your financial institutions to "flag" your account for fraudulent activity.
- Watch all financial accounts closely.
Monitor your credit
Report attempted identity theft to credit bureaus.
Obtain a free copy of your credit report:
Online at www.annualcreditreport.com,
By calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228, or
By mailing an Annual Credit Report Request Form (available at www.annualcreditreport.com) to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.
Consider using credit freezes or fraud alerts, free services that make it more difficult for criminals to secure credit using your identity. See security freezes and fraud alerts at www.annualcreditreport.com.
For tips and other helpful information, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): 1-877-IDTHEFT or www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Remember: never use the same password on multiple accounts. Password reuse is a key cause of email hacking.
Tip: You may find a password manager helpful in securely managing your passwords. Research reputable password manager applications or contact your computer professional.
Protect your Northwestern Mutual policies and accounts
Be prepared to provide your account/policy number when requesting the following:
- Life, Disability Income and Annuity – You can request a password to be used to verify your identity when you call the home office.
- For Life and Disability Income Policies, call 1-800-388-8123.
- For Annuities, call 1-888-455-2232.
- Long Term Care – You can request additional authenticators be added to verify your identity when calling about your policy by calling 1-800-748-9493.
- Investment Accounts – You can request a restriction be added to your account.
- For Northwestern Mutual Investment Services and Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, including Trust and Private Client Services, call 1-866-950-4644.
Make the Call
If you are an employee, contractor, field force member, or vendor/supplier for Northwestern Mutual or its subsidiaries and you suspect or observe a concern related to possible:
- Fraud, theft or dishonesty
- Accounting irregularity
- Violation of business conduct or law
Contact the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) to confidentially report your concern. Help maintain an ethical culture and protect Northwestern Mutual's reputation for integrity and trust.
Access the ERC by phone (866-663-8427) 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Central Time. Outside of business hours, you may leave a confidential message.