Are You a Target for Identity Theft?

Life Insurance | FamilyMillions of Americans are affected by Identity Theft each year. Just within the past year we have seen Security Breaches in large department stores, Internet and Email Scams, Social Security/IRS fraud, and most recently the Minnesota Department of Revenue temporarily stopped accepting tax returns that were submitted through Turbo Tax due to a security breach.

When a security breach occurs it leaves many people vulnerable to having their credit/debit card and other personal information stolen and used by the hackers to make fraudulent purchases. Some financial institutions are aware of this type of fraud and will notify you if your information is at risk and issue a new number to protect your account.  Other companies have liability clauses in their credit card terms that may protect you from fraud. However, if you do not pay attention to your credit/debit purchases and the fraud goes undetected for a long period of time, the more likely you are to be liable for the debt.

Locking up your home when you are away could probably help protect you from a burglary, but since we have all become potential targets for ID Theft even simple tasks such as taking out the trash is now becoming a huge risk. Along with the possibility of someone digging through your trash for personal information, you could also be a target for ID Theft in the safety of your own home via the internet. Hackers and Scammers are looking for any opportunity to get your personal information.

The IRS has seen an increase in phone and email scams around the country. These scams, among others, are listed on the IRS website to help people become more familiar with what the scams entail and promote awareness of this type of theft. In some cases the scammer will call or email you and pose as an IRS agent. They will tell you that you have been audited and you owe back taxes. There are some that will threaten the victim with penalties and even legal action unless they make a payment by using a preloaded debit card. The emails use the same tactic, and demand that you contact them right away. In the event you do get a phone call or an email do not give out any information. You can contact the IRS directly to find out what your status is, or to report potential fraud.

Reviewing the following information and becoming more educated with scams and fraud will greatly decrease the likelihood of another statistic in Identity Theft.

What the scammer is looking for:

  • Driver’s License with name, address, date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Medical ID Cards
  • Credit Cards
  • Bank Account numbers

What they can do with the information:

    • With your driver’s license they will have access to your address, birth date and license number. The scammer could take your number and create a fake ID card with their picture. They could use your name and information to apply for work, give your information on traffic ticket, and damage your driving record. They could even show up at some point to burglarize your home.
    • With your Social Security number, they can get a job and file false tax returns, get a new Social Security card saying that they lost the old one, obtain Social Security benefits by filing a claim, apply for welfare benefits, get medical and dental care, obtain passports, access bank account information and drain retirement/savings accounts.
    • With your Medical ID, they could have surgery, even cosmetic surgeries, file for Social Security/disability benefits, and file medical insurance claims.
    • With your credit cards and bank account information they can open new lines of credit, open new bank accounts, obtain checking/saving account information to purchase a vehicle or a home, buy expensive jewelry, and deplete your savings, checking accounts.

 How you can detect/monitor and possibly prevent it:

  • Don’t respond to emails that are asking you for personal information such as name or address, birth date, credit card information, or social security numbers. Most places that need this type of information would never ask for it via email.
  • Watch where you are using your credit cards. Avoid going onto links that you are being redirected to. Make sure your page is safe before using your credit card information. Never save your credit card information, always log out of an account online.
  • Monitor your bank account and go over your monthly statements to be sure there is no suspicious activity.
  • Get your annual social security statements and check to be sure that the jobs listed are accurate and that there have been no claims filed or work history you are unaware of.
  • Many people are getting into the habit of shredding personal documents that may contain bank account information, social security numbers, and even birth dates instead of throwing it in the trash.

In order to protect yourself from Identity Theft find out more information on what is targeted, what is done with information, and what options you have to prevent it or recover in the event it does happen to you. Some insurance companies offer identity theft protection. Contact your agent to find out more about how to protect your identity.

By: Insurance Advisors, Inc.

 

Planning To Move? A Change of Address Could Save You Money on Your Insurance

Moving Could Save You Money Your Home and Auto Insurance Policies

car-girlWhen you make the decision to move, finding a suitable place is the first step. Whether you are a renter or preparing to buy your first home, house hunting is not an easy task and it requires an extensive search to accommodate all of your family’s needs. Although finances can play a key role in your decision, there are many other factors to take into consideration.

When you begin your search try to find a few places that you can keep in mind while you continue to shop around.

  • Do a quick inspection of each property to make sure that there aren’t any noticeable issues with wiring, water leaks, or any type of damage that may end up causing you to make costly repairs after you are settled in. The location of your new home is just as important as the structure itself.
  • To avoid the intimidation of moving into an area that you are unfamiliar with be sure to take the time to check out the neighborhood. Research the crime statistics in the area, compare the distance you will be traveling to and from your job, visit the schools, locate the town hall/police station, and find safe access to parks/lakes.  This will allow you to be more at ease with the safety of your family and your possessions when your move is finalized.

The next step in the moving process is choosing the best insurance plan for your new place. Renter’s/ Homeowner’s insurance and Auto insurance can be lower depending on where you choose to live. First, you should be aware of how your insurance rates are determined. Insurance companies use similar criteria when preparing your quote as you would use when preparing for your move. Each company uses the information differently which is why rates vary from each insurance company. Each insurer must file with the state the procedure on how they arrived at your current rates. They also must conform to that procedure. State regulations require the information used for the rates to be reviewed randomly.

When getting your Home and/ or Auto insurance quote, the rates are usually based on some of the following criteria:

Location:

Some neighborhoods experience more crime than others, there is a higher potential for theft and vandalism to your home and possessions in these areas. Some areas are more secluded and may experience less crime, but then the possibility for a fire or other disaster when the homeowner is away may go unnoticed in those areas causing more damage, so this also becomes a greater risk. Rates vary from state to state due to natural disasters. Some areas are more prone to flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes.

Age/Construction:  

The type of construction, whether it is made of brick, wood, or concrete will have some bearing on your rates. Rates will widely depend on what the cost would be to replace the home if it was a total loss. Premiums are higher for homes that are made with higher quality materials and elaborate fixtures. If your home is older the wiring, water pipes, or the roof may be in need of repairs. You can invest in some remodeling/upgrading of the alarm systems, rewiring, roof repairs, upgrade the heating units, and replace old pipes to potentially lower your rates.

Since most insurance companies offer bundles for home and auto policies, you could save money on your current auto rates as well as your homeowner’s insurance when you choose to bundle. Auto insurance rates are calculated much the same way as homeowner’s. Where you live, what you drive, and your driving record will all be considered when getting your quote as well as some of the following criteria:

 Location: 

Certain areas are more prone to theft and vandalism than other areas. Many companies research the crime statistics in the area where you live and use it to base your rates.   Some more congested areas are also a factor since there is more of a chance for an accident in areas with more traffic. If you have moved to a place that shortens your weekly commute, and you are driving fewer miles, this also is figured.

Driver Age: 

Age helps to determine your experience as a driver. Younger drivers tend to be higher risks because they lack experience in many situations that can occur on the road. Other drivers that may be a risk are those who tend to not drive regularly. Often times their skills may not be as sharp. Driving records are also used in determining rates.

Type of Vehicle:

Vehicles that are sporty, fast, and expensive are generally highly rated and result in higher premiums. Sports cars usually result in high premiums because they are more apt to be involved in accidents that result in excessive damages and injuries. Vehicles that are more expensive may have higher rates based on how much it would cost to replace the vehicle if it was a total loss.

Lastly, make it a priority to notify the postal service of your move so that you will get your mail delivered to your new address. You should also directly contact your insurance company, bank, DMV, and the IRS. Mail is forward to the new address for up to 12 months. After that time period, the post office returns the mail to the sender unable to forward. The sender will need to track down your current address and resubmit the mail.  If there is no forwarding address on file, you will not get the mail. In some cities if your name is not listed as a resident on your current address, you may not get your mail delivered to that address. The postal service has made it easier than ever to change your address. You can go online, make changes on the phone, or stop into the branch.

If you have or are planning to move in Minnesota, talk with one of our agents for a Free Home and Auto Insurance Quote.

By: Insurance Advisors, Inc.