Protect Yourself Against, and Mitigate Damages From, Identity Theft

We’ve all heard of it. But we all think that we’re invincible to it. Identity Theft!

What is it? It refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes.

Identity theft techniques can range from unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes.

If your identity is stolen, do you have a plan in place to mitigate the damages? If not, you should at least bookmark this, just in case you need it in the future.

Identity thieves are looking for the following information:
• full name
• date of birth
• Social Insurance Numbers
• full address
• mother’s maiden name
• username and password for online services
• driver’s license number
• personal identification numbers (PIN)
• credit card information (numbers, expiry dates and the last three digits printed on the signature panel)
• bank account numbers
• signature
• passport number

There are things that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, and there are steps that you can take to minimize the damage and help bring the thief to justice.

Here are 5 things that you can do right now to protect yourself:
1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put ‘PHOTO ID REQUIRED.’
2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the ‘For’ line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your cheque as it passes through all the cheque processing channels won’t have access to it.
3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SIN printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.
4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
5. When you travel abroad, carry a photocopy of your passport. We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Insurance number, credit cards, etc…

If your identity does get stolen, what kind of things can you expect to have happen?

Here are just some of what they can do:
1. Access your bank accounts
2. Open new bank accounts
3. Transfer bank balances
4. Apply for loans, credit cards
5. Make purchases
6. Buy cell phone packages
7. Credit line approved by retail stores
8. Access your driving record, and change your information online

If you are a victim, here’s some critical information to act on immediately:
1. Cancel your credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. This is why we photocopy them (see above). Call your local bank/financial institution as well.
2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here’s what is perhaps most important of all:
3. Call the nationwide credit reporting companies immediately. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your name and credit report. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Here are the numbers for two national credit bureaus:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-465-7166
2.) TransUnion Canada: 1-877-525-3823
3. Order free copies of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies.

Have you even been a victim of identify theft? Tell us your story and maybe others can learn from what you did, or didn’t do.

Why Your Company Needs Cyber Privacy Insurance

The universe in which we live in is so very different than how it used to be. Home and personal life has been drastically improved.The general difference in our present lives is particular evident in the manner in which business conducts activities. Technology has taken over virtually every aspect of commercial performance in all industries – worldwide!

With the advancement, however, there remains serious cyber and privacy breach liability. Companies that protect themselves with Cyber and Privacy Insurance can rest assured that they have the necessary coverage in the event of a data breach.

Privacy Claims Instances that Could Very Well Occur to any Business:

• A large healthcare provider partnered with a national merchant to help with its office move. In middle of relocating, the healthcare provider learned there were a number of laptop computers missing. The laptops all contained personal data of members. After consulting with a lawyer and forensic vendors affected parties were notified and offered credit monitoring services. The healthcare provider was investigated and became the defendant in a class action lawsuit. Data breach costs reached $7,000,000 and privacy liability costs came to $2,000,000.

• An online retail shop was hacked and shoppers experienced fraudulent credit card charges. The shop’s tech support employees asked the host web-company to review the stored server data. The web-company discovered a virus and removed it. However, the breach compromised privacy of almost a million records, plus fraudulent usage of 50 credit cards. Besides this, the online shop acquired fines and penalties as a result of not being Payment Card Industry. Data breach costs amounted to $750,000 and privacy liability costs came to $500,000.

• Two employees of a $100 mil retail outlet stole credit card info from a client and fraudulently utilized it for personal shopping. The workers was caught in the act and legal action was taken against them. The retail outlet shop provided credit card monitoring services to its customer (the victimized credit card owner) and provided compensation to her for any related damages. Privacy liability costs amounted to $75,000.

• A $50 million business servicing corporation organized a mailing project for a client and accidentally sent out about 60,000 envelopes displaying account numbers. Data breach costs amounted to $320,000.

• A neighborhood municipality mistakenly posted tax licenses on its website, leading to improper release of personal data. The municipality used forensics services as well as the services of an attorney’s and a public relations company. The municipality also notified affected people and offered credit monitoring services. Data breach costs reached $150,000.

Care Costs in Retirement – Controlling Your Health

It’s no secret that health care becomes a bigger concern for most of us as we grow older. More ailments are likely to develop, which means more money spent to visit health professionals and buy medication. Even if you remain healthy through your later years, the costs of preventative care and preparing for potential unexpected health situations are rising.

Health-related expenses will likely be one of the biggest components of your retirement budget. You need to be prepared to pay for comprehensive insurance coverage and potential out-of-pocket costs for care. Here are three strategies to help you manage this critical expense in retirement.

Understand how Medicare works

The good news for Americans age 65 and older is that you qualify for Medicare. That makes increased dependence on health care services more affordable. At age 65, most people automatically qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, which primarily provides coverage for hospital stays and skilled nursing care. Medicare Part B must be purchased (approximately $109 per month in 2017 for most retirees). Part B covers the costs of visiting a physician, but with some deductibles. Many people purchase additional coverage to use for out-of-pocket expenses, such as a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement policy.

With Medicare, timing is important. Signing up when you first qualify for coverage will keep costs at the lowest level. If you maintain insurance through your employer after turning 65, you can delay Medicare enrollment without risking late penalties.

If you retire prior to age 65, you will need to purchase insurance on the open market to cover health-related expenses until you become eligible for Medicare. Individual coverage tends to get more expensive as you grow older, so work the cost into your retirement budget. Some employers offer retiree health insurance as a benefit. Check with your human resources department to see if this option is available to you.

Allocate sufficient funds for health care costs

As you develop your retirement income strategy, make sure you have money set aside for health expenses that will be your responsibility. By one estimate, the average 66-year-old couple will need to tap more than half of their lifetime pre-tax Social Security benefits to pay for health care expenses throughout retirement. Most people will likely have to rely, in part, on their own savings to help offset some medical expenses.

Along with other retirement savings, you may want to establish a health savings account (HSA) during your working years. HSAs are designed to help build tax-advantaged savings to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur during your working years. However, any leftover funds can be applied to health expenses later in life, including premiums for Medicare and long-term care insurance. Keep in mind that you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan to open an HSA.

Focus on your own health

One way to potentially keep health care costs under control in retirement is to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Small changes you make today, such as eating right or prioritizing sleep, could reduce the likelihood that medical issues will impact you later in life. Being physically active may also benefit your finances in retirement – according to the American Heart Association, it could potentially help you save $500 a year today on health-related expenses.

Having a plan doesn’t guarantee that you will avoid heath issues, but you may find comfort in knowing how you can tackle health care costs in retirement.

LED’s In Auto Manufacturing

The popularity of LED lighting in many applications has seen major car manufacturers including Audi, Cadillac, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Ford offering colorful LED lights with new car models to attract customers.

Automotive lighting has seen few advancements in the past 30 years, instead relying on the widely used incandescent options. However, new LED options have emerged in recent years. LED is an abbreviation of light-emitting diode. It is a semiconductor that can change electrical energy into visible light. The light-emitting efficiency can reach 80%-90%. New, more intelligent LED options can now be seen in automotive electronic products, now known as the fourth generation car luminescence.

Compared with the traditional light bulb, LED’s main advantage is its lifespan. First of all, LED light life can last up to 50,000 hours in theory. In practice, it may be closer to 20,000 hours. Therefore, with the use of LED options, it’s possible to never need to change the lights for the life of the vehicle. Another advantage is that LED’s have a fast response time and can be lit without delay. LED’s start time is only tens of nanoseconds, much shorter than incandescent bulbs. LED’s are also energy saving. LED brake lights and turn signals can directly change electrical energy into light energy in the lower drive current, making it an eco-friendly option, not needing any other power. In addition, they will only need less than a quarter of the power of an incandescent lamp. The small size and compact structure of LED’s allow for use in places where traditional lights just could not fit.

Auto LED’s can be divided into two categories, lamps and decorative lights. Lamps include standard applications like instrument lights, front and rear turning lights, brake lights, back up lights, fog lamps and reading lamps. Decorative uses mainly include color changing lights for the side or bottom of cars.

The Market Prospects of Light-Emitting Diodes

Although the LED light source is still a relatively new alternative to conventional incandescent light source, the technology has matured and is continuing to mature greatly. The only disadvantage is that in some cases LED’s can be more costly upfront. However, with advancements in manufacturing and the rise of Chinese LED manufacturers, the hope is that LED’s will become the goto lighting option for automotive manufacturers in the future. With so many advantages, LED’s are almost certainly the future of auto lighting.