How To Win The Identity Theft War

You’ve probably heard about identity theft on television or read about it in the newspaper, and you may already be aware of the damage these crimes can cause victims and their families. What you may not know is how to protect yourself from these attacks. Below you’ll find ten steps that can help you minimize your chances of becoming another identity theft statistic.

Invest in a shredder – Never throw anything away without shredding it first. Identity thieves will dig through dumpsters and trash bags looking for credit card receipts, voided checks, paid bills, credit card offers, and other items that provide them with your personal information.

Mail everything from the post office – Leaving your outgoing mail in or on your mailbox is an invitation to have it stolen by an identity thief. Not only can they get all of your personal information from the check, but they can even alter the check and cash it themselves. Instead, drop it by the post office or another mailbox.

Use a post office box – Incoming mail is also a target for identity thieves. Your bills, checks, even junk mail can be used by these thieves to steal your personal information. If you have a post office box, then your mail will be delivered safely to that box.

Have a non-published phone number – Some identity thieves will also use the telephone in an attempt to get your personal information. For example, one scam involved a caller telling a person he or she had won a government grant that was going to be directly deposited into their checking account.

Check your accounts weekly – If you don’t already, you need to get in the habit of checking the balances of all your financial accounts on a weekly basis. Waiting for monthly statements isn’t good enough because by then, your account could have been completely drained.

Check your credit report yearly – Every year, you should request free copies of your credit report and check them for any errors, such as credit cards or loans you never took out. If you find out now that someone is using your identity, you can start correcting the problem before you need to use your own credit.

Memorize PIN numbers and passwords – Never write down your PIN numbers or passwords. No place is a safe place to keep these important pieces of information.

Keep only basic information on checks – Your checks should only include basic information about you, such as your name and address. Your social security number should never be printed on your checks. If it is, then you’re basically handing over the keys to your identity to any thief who comes in contact with your check.

Eliminate unwanted credit card offers – Those credit card offers you throw away can be used by identity thieves.

Carry only necessities – Never carry anything in your purse or wallet that isn’t necessary, such as extra deposit slips, social security cards, birth certificates, etc. The more personal information your purse or wallet contains, the more valuable it will be to an identity thief if it is lost or stolen.

Go electronic – Bank statements, most bills, and many other documents can all be viewed electronically, so you never have to worry about them being stolen out of your mailbox or your trash. Contact your financial institution, credit card companies, and utility providers about the availability of this option. As an extra bonus, many of these businesses offer incentives to individuals who sign up for these electronic programs.

While these steps can’t guarantee you won’t have a identity theft issue, it can help reduce the likelihood of having one.

How To Prepare For Holiday Home Safety

 

The Holidays are almost upon us, and if you have been to any department store, the sounds of Christmas are ringing out. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, over 400 homes are destroyed annually by causes related to Christmas tree fires. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission hospital emergency rooms treat over 12,900 people each year for injuries such as falls, cuts and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees. Before you put up the lights or cut down the tree, we wanted to provide you with a few safety reminders to keep you and your family safe this holiday season.

The Tree

Keep Christmas Trees Fresh; water regularly.

Keep trees away from heat sources.

Take Christmas trees down before January.

Do not burn the trees in your fireplace.

Avoid placing breakable tree ornaments, or ones with small detachable parts, on lower branches where small children or pets can reach them.

When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant”.

Lights

Only use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.

Never string together more lights than are recommended by the manufacturer.

Make sure extension cords are rated for the intended use.

Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

If you use a timer for your outdoor lights, make sure it is rated for outside use.

Outdoor lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)

Ladder Safety

When putting up holiday decorations, always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places. Don’t stand on chairs, desks, or other furniture.

A straight or extension ladder should be placed one foot away from the surface it rests against for every four feet of ladder height.

Use ladders with slip-resistant feet.

Never stand on top two steps.

Enjoy the season with family and friends, and never drink and drive.

Will Your Personal Insurance Be There For You When You Need It?

A Personal Insurance Update

As we move into 2019, it is important to take stock of your personal insurance program.  Many different life events can affect your personal insurance.  Having the right kind of personal insurance can make a big difference if, and when, you ever have a claim.  Please call our office for an insurance review.

What Should Be Part of Your 2019 Personal Insurance Planning?

Should I consider a personal umbrella policy?

Is my home valued correctly?

Do I need to add or remove any drivers?

Have my life insurance needs changed?

Things That Can Affect Your Insurance

Marital status.

Children in college.

Purchase of a new vehicle, ATV, motorcycle, or boat.

Planned foreign travel.

Purchased any items of value like art, guns, or jewelry.

Starting a home-based business.

Purchasing a vacation home.

Using your home as rental income.

If you call us, one of our team members will help you find the best possible combination of coverage, price, and service.  Our agents have access to more carriers, and that means that they have more options, including multiple policy discounts and preferred premium pricing.