Four Seasons of Insurance – by Sam Engardio
During the summer months more people are traveling and using their credit cards more often, on their iphones, in different areas of the country and letting their kids use them for different outings. While traveling and the summer months are great, it tends to expose you more readily to Identity Theft.
Did you know that many home insurance policies now offer some protection, at very little cost!
We’ve all heard the latest news that a bank, large retail chain, or even a local gas station data was comprised and resulted in your personal information being vulnerable. This is causing you to worry about your personal data being stolen by someone and ruining your credit. The Identity Theft endorsement added to your home insurance policy will help with the cost associated to (lost earnings, fees, and expenses associated with restoring your credit rating and reapplying for loans or credit).
In the meantime, while your deciding to add this to your policy there are several things you can do to help guard your information online. These days, many of us do most of our shopping and banking on the web. With all those account numbers and passwords floating around out in cyberspace, it’s easy for someone to grab your info and go on a spending spree – while you pick up the bill. Below are some tips to help minimize your risk:
- Clear your logins and passwords. This is especially important if you’ve been working on a public computer. Change logins and passwords monthly.
- Pay for online purchases with your credit card, which has better guarantees under federal law than your online payment services or your debit card.
- Be alert for phishing, a trick in which spam or pop-ups mimic legitimate banks or businesses to obtain your personal information, which they use to access your accounts. Always verify that you’re on a familiar Web site with security controls before entering personal data.
- Monitor your bank and credit card statements. Check your accounts regularly so you know when something’s awry. Purchases you didn’t make should be obvious—like a gas fill-up halfway across the country.
- Verify your mailing address with the post office and financial institutions. Identity bandits may fill out change of address forms so that delinquent credit notices remain off your paper billing radar.
- Monitor your credit report. By law, you’re entitled to a free report every year from each of the three bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Request one every four months, changing bureaus each time. You can order the report directly through each agency, or at annualcreditreport.com. Use this URL—there are hordes of knockoff sites that will try to charge you for your report and other needless services. Scan it for abnormal activity, such as accounts or credit cards you didn’t open. (And don’t fall prey to faux free credit report advertisements.)
- Shred sensitive documents. Buy a shredder and regularly shred outdated bank statements, credit card applications, bills, and anything with your personal information before tossing it into the trash or recycling. Junk mail often includes some of your personal details.
Does it make sense to pay for ID theft protection if you’ve taken all these precautions? It depends on your spending habits and overall level of caution. You might want to invest in an identity theft protection service if:
- You do lots of online banking or shopping.
- You don’t have time to monitor your information on your own.
To find out more please contact our Personal Insurance Department staff, any of our person insurance specialists can help you review your home insurance policy and determine if adding Identity Fraud/Theft Endorsement is a good idea for you.