Ways to Protect Your ID When Shopping Online

Ways to Protect Your ID When Shopping Online

Many of us will be using smartphones and laptops for our holiday shopping. While it may be more convenient than a drive to the mall, going online presents dangers to your credit and personal data. Cyber-crooks are lurking, just waiting for a slip-up to steal your identity and get into your bank and credit card accounts. As you tap in and surf for deals, be cautious about where you go and the information you give others. It’s estimated that one-in-five Americans have been a victim of identity theft, and 43% of those had their identity stolen while shopping online during the holidays.

Be Secure

It’s more important than ever that you protect your personal information. Here are some important internet shopping safety tips to remember:

    • Don’t open suspicious or unsolicited emails that can often take you to dangerous sites
    • Shop with familiar companies, looking for the secure “https” in the URL (“S” indicating it is a secure site), and beware of copycat sites with slight misspellings
    • Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts
    • Avoid using debit cards and pay with a credit card for online shopping (credit cards offer the most fraud protection)
    • Refrain from shopping or banking while using free or public Wi-Fi
    • Be aware of fake charity, pet adoption and lonely-hearts solicitations
    • Check your credit card, bank and other accounts often for suspicious or fraudulent charges
    • Never send a gift card for payment (a trick many crooks use)

If you are planning on giving to a charity, you also need to take your time and do research to make sure your donation goes to a good cause. Scammers know that people’s good hearts make them easy targets for rip-offs. Remember to:

    • Be skeptical of email solicitations from charities you have never heard of or supported before
    • Avoid giving to any organization requesting gift cards, wiring money, or transferring funds to an overseas bank
    • Realize that many social media donation sites may not be legitimate
    • Seek out each charity’s authorized website (crooks often use sound-a-like sites and misspellings)
    • Check the legitimacy of charities through sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator and GuideStar

Resolution

If you suspect that you have been an ID theft victim, the Federal Trade Commission recommends:

    • Placing a freeze on your credit report (locking down your credit to anyone)
    • Placing a fraud alert (protecting your credit from unverified sources) with one of the three nationwide credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion)
    • Filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission

Find more ID theft protection information https://mycalcas.com/?s=cyber+crooks.

TAKEAWAY:

One of the many benefits that California Casualty offers with every auto and home/renters policy is free ID theft resolution services from CyberScout. Learn more at www.calcas.com/identity-theft or call 1.800.800.9410, option 3 to learn more.

 

Auto Insurance Does More Than Fix Your Car

Auto Insurance Does More Than Fix Your Car

It also protects your assets… if you have the right amount of coverage. In today’s world, having the right amount of auto insurance is imperative. The costs to repair vehicles are increasing, and many times accidents involve lawsuits.

If you do not have high enough liability limits and an accident victim chooses to pursue greater compensation for their injuries, your financial assets – such as your home, your savings, future earnings and even your retirement – are at risk. One serious crash could result in some serious financial distress, even bankruptcy. (Please read that again.)

How is that?

Well, your auto insurance is made up of the coverage limits you choose: Bodily Injury Liability (BI), Property Damage Liability (PD) and Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UM).

The minimum liability insurance required varies by state, but generally, it looks something like this:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident

 

That means if the insured driver is at-fault in a crash, their insurance would pay up to $25,000 to each person in the other vehicle(s) for injuries – up to a total of $50,000, and pay up to $25,000 for the damage caused to the other vehicle(s), public property, etc.

That might sound like enough, but considering the high costs of medical care, the amount someone might suffer in lost wages, and that the average vehicle now retails for almost $40,000, the at-fault driver could pay out-of-pocket tens of thousands of dollars (or more) above what their insurance would cover.

The Insurance Information Institute recommends each person carry at least $100,000 bodily injury protection per person, $300,000 bodily injury protection per accident, and $50,000 for property damage. If you have a lot of assets (a home, investments, vacation property) and a higher earning potential, you should buy even more protection ($250,000, $500,000, $100,000).

Don’t forget uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM). It’s estimated that one out of eight drivers has no insurance, with many others carrying minimal coverage. You’ll want higher limits to pay for any injuries and damage to your vehicle if you are hit by one of these drivers.

Insurance companies urge everyone to purchase as much liability insurance as they can afford, and we are no different.

As your insurance partner, California Casualty takes seriously our obligation to inform you about important insurance gaps, and to offer higher limits (that cost very little for the protection they provide).

TAKEAWAY:

Call one of our customer care representatives at 1.800.800.9410, option 3 to review your current policy limits and discuss your coverage amount options.

Control the Chaos of Moving

Control the Chaos of Moving

August is prime moving season. It can be quite a task if you are packing up for your first apartment, or heading to your forever home. Not only do you need enough boxes, but you’ll soon be learning a new route to work or school, trying to figure out the parking situation, and going through the fun of setting up utilities, internet and other necessities. As you race around trying to get everything prepared, it’s easy to get frustrated or forget important things.

Here are some helpful packing tips that can make the effort a little easier:

  • Make sure you have enough boxes for your move (find a box calculator here)
  • Designate an “essentials” suitcase or bag for hygiene products, medications, toothbrushes, chargers and a change of clothes you’ll need for a few days (and keep in your car)
  • Keep clothes on hangers, zip tie them together and wrap them in plastic for easier transition into a new closet
  • Put fitted sheets on both sides of a mattress to protect it
  • Pack glass bottles in kids pool floaties to protect them from breaking
  • Wrap breakable dishware and glass in t-shirts or towels
  • Use painters tape to label electrical cords with the name of the corresponding appliance for hassle-free matching, and pack them in toilet paper or paper towel rolls
  • Put screws and other small hardware in sandwich bags and tape them to the piece they go to
  • Instead of using markers, use color-coded tape to designate where each box will go

 

Getting to your new home and realizing you left important things behind can be a real downer. Here’s a list of some essentials things you’ll want to do:

  1. Submit your change of address to the Post Office a couple weeks before your move – it often takes ten-business days to get processed
  2. Open a checking account in your new city a few weeks prior to the move
  3. Get copies of your family’s medical records and veterinary records for your pets, as well as copies of prescriptions you may need to transfer
  4. Have official copies of your child’s school records (needed to enroll them into a new school)
  5. Look for valuables you may have hidden around the house (jewelry, stamps, coins)
  6. Remember items you left at the cleaners (or the watch at the repair shop)
  7. Leave some cleaning supplies for the after-move clean-up
  8. Bring an extra roll or two of toilet paper (enough said)
  9. Leave behind the garage door opener – many people forget to take them out of their vehicles
  10. Gather all the house keys you have hidden or given to neighbors and friends, and to rekey the doors of your new place

You can find an easy to use, downloadable moving checklist here.

Here’s an important note: If you are renting a moving truck, most auto insurance companies don’t extend coverage to those type of vehicles, and auto insurance may not cover rental trailers. You should contact your insurance provider before the move, and consider buying the rental truck company’s liability, damage waiver, and cargo protection policies.

TAKEAWAY:

Are you ready to move? Download a renter’s moving checklist from our resources page, mycalcas.com/resources. Also, let one of our advisors make sure you have the coverage you need for your big move. Contact us at 1.800.800.9410 option 3.   

 

control the chaos of moving

Why You May Not Have Enough Insurance to Rebuild

Seeing a wall of flames or a madly spinning tornado bearing down on your community or neighborhood is the worst time to wonder, “Do I have enough insurance to build my home again?”

While some areas of the country have already experienced tornadoes and record flooding, fire and storm season is just beginning.

We’ve seen enough disasters to know the stress and financial impact they leave behind. More out-of-control fires and powerful storms have resulted in higher cleanup costs, elevated rebuilding prices and shortages of manpower and materials, due to the damage in a concentrated area.

It’s very important to make sure that you have enough insurance for your home and property.

Here’s why:

  • Half of American homeowners have told experts that they don’t really know what their homeowners insurance policy covers
  • Other studies estimate that six out of ten homeowners are underinsured by an average of 20 percent – meaning if their house costs $200,000 to replace, they would fall short by about $40,000 if they had a total loss
  • Less than 20 percent of those in flood or earthquake-prone areas have flood or earthquake insurance

Here are some of the factors that could lead to a home being underinsured:

  1. Improvements and upgrades. When you buy new appliances, remodel kitchens and bathrooms or add on to your home, those improvements may not be covered by your original insurance policy.
  2. Hazardous materials removal costs. After a disaster, your property may be full of dangerous chemicals, asbestos and other hazardous materials. It may take months to get proper permits, and the costs to remove the toxic residue can be quite high.
  3. Rising construction costs. After large-scale disasters, building materials, construction crews and equipment may be in short supply. Costs in many areas have skyrocketed after massive property destruction.
  4. Updated building codes. Rebuilding an older home to meet today’s safety codes may be expensive, especially if you bought your home decades ago.
  5. Limited loss of use coverage. Make sure you have enough coverage to pay for extra living expenses (rent, food and other essentials) while your home is rebuilt or repaired. It’s important to factor in extended time after large disasters, sometimes more than a year.
  6. Not enough personal property protection. Make sure that you have enough contents coverage to replace the many items you own – bedding, clothing, kitchen items and electronics. Don’t forget scheduled personal property for high value items, such as jewelry, special musical instruments, fine art and collectibles.

Being Prepared

A yearly policy review is a must. As your insurance partner, it’s imperative that you tell us about any home improvements/upgrades that you’ve made. A California Casualty advisor will take the time to explain your policy and help make sure that you have the coverage you need with the discounts you deserve.

Its’s also important that you make an inventory of your possessions. Not only will it help determine the amount of coverage you need, but it speeds up the process of replacing those items. Only half of American homeowners and renters have done an inventory, which could leave them in the lurch after a disaster.

TAKEAWAY:

Take a moment and contact one of our customer service representatives for your policy review by calling 1.800.800.9410, option 3.

 

Beat the Urge to Use Your Smartphone Behind the Wheel

While we worry about our teens texting while behind the wheel, what kind of example are we setting?  Nearly one-third of drivers of all ages admit to texting, talking or checking a map app while on the road.  With Americans spending an average of an hour a day on the road, that’s too many opportunities for a serious crash.

Technology can give us the boost we need to stay on task, avoiding texting while driving. There are a variety of apps to reduce your temptation to use a smartphone while behind the wheel. Most of us already use apps for workouts, calorie counting, music and banking – why not add one for safer driving?

Five Apps to Stop Phone Use While Driving:

  1. AT&T DriveMode, a free app for iOS and Android that silences incoming calls, restricts texting, and sends alerts when the app is turned off
  2. DriveSafe Mode, an app available for iOS and Android that prevents texting and emailing while driving and sends notifications when the phone is in use or when the driver shuts off the app
  3. Cell Control, a subscription service that allows businesses or families to block sending or receiving texts while driving and sends an alert if it is deactivated
  4. On My Way Realtime GPS (available at iOS app store), a free app that allows others to track where you are in real time without the need to send a text or make a call while driving, and lets them know when you arrive at your destination
  5. LifeSaver, a subscription service for both Android and iOS that blocks phone use, monitors driving behaviors, sends alerts when the driver arrives safely and allows them to earn points while using the app

Your phone may already have a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature. Search within your phone settings to activate it.

Some other tips to help drivers concentrate on the road and not on technology include:

  • Mapping out the route before getting into the car
  • Creating music lists at home to play on the ride
  • Making calls to friends, work or relatives before the drive and after you arrive at your destination

TAKEAWAY:

Learn more about distracted driving and efforts to prevent it here.

 

Flood-Damaged Vehicles Across the U.S. – Buyer Beware

If you’re in the market for a used car or truck, be aware that water-damaged vehicles could soon be coming to your community. While most will arrive from areas deluged by tropical storms and hurricanes, others can come from flooding in other parts of the country. The U.S. Justice Department and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners warn that crooks often ship these flooded vehicles across the country to unwitting buyers, and any used vehicle in any part of the country needs to be checked for water damage.

Carfax estimates there are now more than 325,000 water-damaged vehicles on American highways. They’ve been found from California to Maine and Minnesota to Florida. In fact, the cities where the most flooded cars have washed up are Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Chicago. The states with the most flood-damaged vehicles are Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Florida and Kentucky.

A waterlogged vehicle can have chronic issues that can last for years. Water fouls fuel lines, destroys electronics, and rusts engines, brakes and other important parts.

You should always test drive and inspect any used vehicle you plan to purchase. Here are some signs a vehicle has suffered water damage:

  • A musty odor or heavy aroma of cleaners or disinfectants to mask mold odors
  • Water marks or dirt in the dashboard, carpets or trunk
  • Rusty door hinges and truck latches
  • Corrosion around bolts or screws
  • Silt or mud under seats, glove compartments or window wells
  • Electronics that flicker or don’t work
  • Fog or moisture in interior lights or the dashboard

When test-driving a used vehicle, experts say you should:

  • Turn on the ignition and check all instrument panel lights and accessories
  • Test the interior and exterior lights, air conditioning, windshield wipers, turn signals, high beams and heater
  • Turn on the sound system and check door speakers, which often become damaged in water
  • Look at the engine oil – when mixed with even small amounts of water it turns murky and looks like a melted chocolate shake
  • Inspect the air filter for water stains

If you suspect you unknowingly bought a water-damaged vehicle, the Federal Trade Commission has a wealth of resources for used car buyers who fear they are victims of fraud.

You can get a free vehicle history check from Carfax or through vendors approved by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

TAKEAWAY:.

Learn more about avoiding flood-damaged vehicles at https://www.carfax.com/press/resources/flooded-cars

Pin It on Pinterest