Protecting your Identity
If you keep a close eye on the news, you understand the risk that cyber attacks pose to individuals, businesses and the government.
Identity theft is a type of crime where someone’s personal and financial data is obtained and used without their permission. A cyber attack takes place when identity thieves use personal or organizational information to do things like apply for credit cards or loans in their name, take money from bank accounts, or file fraudulent tax returns, among other things.
The hardest thing about preventing cyber attacks or identity theft is understanding where they may come from. Fortunately, there are local insurance and risk management professionals who are trained to protect you from such attacks.
Set up a meeting with your local office to find out what kinds of personal insurance they offer in the realm of identity protection and cyber attacks.
How to Recognize Signs of Identity Theft
The first step to stopping online attacks is Identifying the warning signs. Here’s what to look out for, from a recent public service announcement put together by Experian:
- You no longer get your household bills in the mail. An absence of bills in the mail could mean your personal data has been compromised, and the identity thief has changed your billing address to try to keep you from seeing your statements.
- You’ve been turned down for a loan or credit card. If you’re approved for a loan or credit but at higher interest rates than you expect, that’s also a sign you may have been victimized by identity theft.
- You’re being billed for items you didn’t purchase.
- Your financial accounts show charges you don’t recognize.
- A tax return was rejected.
These situations will require your immediate attention. Take care of the issue, and take steps to prevent it from happening again with the help of your local insurance and risk management professionals.
How to Stop Identity Theft
Experian recommends taking the following steps to better protect your personal information:
- Password-protect your devices.
- Use a password manager.
- Watch out for phishing attempts.
- Never give out personal information over the phone.
- Regularly check your credit reports.
- Protect your personal documents.
- Limit your exposure.
Choose a Local Auto Insurer
When you search for the best auto insurance policy, it’s best to get a quote from at least three companies. Experts recommend that you rely on local branches to find the best potential rates.
Immediately, you will notice that local companies can be much more personable versus interacting strictly online through digital forms and questionnaires. Having a local agent with a nearby company can help ensure close contact and give you the confidence that you’ll receive personalized, consistent service.
Many national auto insurance companies rely on toll-free numbers and call centers, making it harder to find the support you’re seeking. That being said, many national brands have localized offices for that reason — to give you strong support in your own backyard.
National Versus Local Brands
Here are some things to look for when shopping around for auto insurance rates:
- Competitive rates. With less overhead, your local insurer might be able to offer reduced insurance rates, especially if you bundle your other insurance policies with them. This can lead to long-term, increased savings.
- A local insurer might be better in terms of the customer service they are able to offer, thanks to local brick and mortar locations.
- Many local agencies with bigger brands behind them are able to offer advanced technology and online systems. This can help make things convenient for you as you need to update your policies.
Events and travel are opening back up, but many providers may still offer auto insurance reimbursements for policyholders.
Brokerages started offering these types of programs in 2020 to provide customers portions of their monthly payments due to the travel restrictions and decreased amounts of driving during the COVID-19 pandemic. And local brokers may be more likely to keep these programs going, especially in communities where leaders are still more cautious in terms of pandemic protection.
When shopping for a new policy, ask what kinds of pandemic relief plans the company has in place.
You should also inquire about any other deals or policy reduction policies they offer. Every dollar counts when trying to lower your overall monthly expenses, and your local provider will do everything in his or her power to keep your business.