Monthly Archives: November 2015

Identity Theft: Protect Yourself this Holiday Season

Identity Theft
Identity thieves work year-round, but they’re especially busy as the holiday season approaches. As in-store and online sales heat up, these criminals are afforded many more opportunities to steal your identity and empty your bank account. By taking just a few simple precautions to stop identity theft in its tracks, you can sail into the New Year with your reputation and your money intact.
In-Store Shopping
  • Use cash instead of checks or credit cards for in-store purchases. That leaves you vulnerable to pickpockets, but at least your liability will be limited to the amount of money you’re carrying and not everything you have in your bank accounts.
  • When carrying cash, stash it in purses or wallets that have a zipper or other secure closures. Sling your purse over your body instead of just your shoulder to make it more difficult for thieves to grab it.
  • Avoid swiping credit or debit cards at gas pumps or self-pay restaurants, as identity thieves often use devices called “skimmers” to steal credit card information. Shield the screen at the ATM machine when taking out cash or checking your balance so that others can’t see your pin number or bank balance.
  • Don’t carry anything in your wallet that you won’t need during your shopping trip. Leave unused credit and debit cards at home, and never store important documents such as a birth certificate or social security card in your wallet.
Online Shopping
  • Look for a lock icon or web address that begins with https: before entering personal information or credit card numbers when shopping online. These indicate that the vendor has taken precautions to encrypt the information so it’s more difficult for thieves to steal.
  • Use a prepaid Visa or Mastercard for online transactions. Just like using cash for in-store purchases, it limits your liability to the amount you have loaded onto the card.
  • Don’t store address and billing information on retailer websites, as it leaves your personal information vulnerable if the website is hacked.
  • Use strong passwords that contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols for any site that requires a login, especially your online banking.
If you need to file an insurance claim due to damage to your home or automobile, or if you would just like to review your current policy, contact Northeast Metro-West Insurance Agency today at (800) 443-7007.

5 Tips for Holiday Safety

Woman-Serving-Thanksgiving-TurkeyThe Holiday season is a time for joy – but it’s also time for caution. For instance, it’s estimated that some 400,000 home burglaries occur between November and December each year – a generous spike in home invasions compared to the rest of the year. Drunk driving also spikes around the holidays, as it’s estimated that alcohol is responsible for some 1,200 traffic deaths during the season thanks to big-party holidays like Christmas and New Year’s.

So how can you stay safe on the roads and at home during the holidays, so they truly live up to their reputation as “the most wonderful time of the year?” Here’s a look at five tips for holiday safety:

Here’s a look at five tips for holiday safety:

1. Home Security:

A home security system can go a long way toward not just holiday safety, but year-round safety. In fact, home security systems are said to be the No. 1 deterrent for burglars.

2. Travel Responsibly:

Never post travel plans or dates to social media, as your expected absence can be an advertisement to potential thieves. Additionally, if you are going to be away, contact your local police department – many offer daily courtesy patrols around the holidays if requested.

3. Drive Responsibly:

If alcohol is involved in any way, always designate a driver prior to the holiday party to get everyone home safely.

4. Be Alert on the Roads:

Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving are all dangerous days to drive, due to drunk driving. So if you’re on the roads, be alert. Stay away from erratic drivers, always plan to take a safe route and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by passengers and technology.

5. Be on the Lookout:

Finally, use common sense. If something appears to be suspicious, call the police and report it. Also be mindful of holiday scams and try to avoid shopping alone.

The holidays should be a fun, relaxing and enjoyable time! Be sure that you’re taking the necessary safety measures to keep them that way.