Chances are that you, like many other shoppers, are making your holiday purchases online. Retailers have noticed an increasing trend in online shopping over the past few years, and this is not likely to change.
As shoppers grow weary of braving the cold and standing in long lines to buy this year’s hot products, those who are computer savvy are increasingly opting for the convenience and great deals that they find online.
The result is the rise of Cyber Monday. Even those who venture into the mall on Black Friday or small business Saturday welcome the following Monday as a time to log on to the internet and see what sales are taking place to finish or perhaps start their shopping.
Unfortunately, cyber criminals know this and are finding that targeting victims online is not only easier but does not pose as much risk as capturing shoppers’ ID information and scamming them at the mall or on the phone.
In fact, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) cautions that shoppers will likely face a variety of risks during this holiday season, such as the following.
While Cyber Monday is indeed a favorite holiday for hackers, identity thieves, scammers and other cyber criminals, there are some steps you can take to secure your identity and still enjoy the ease of shopping online.
Know your antivirus software – Antivirus software is much more effective today than in years past at blocking malicious threats to online shoppers. Sadly, cybercriminals have kept pace, finding new tools to steal your identity, your confidential information and more. So, while cyber thieves now use ransomware, trojans, worms, phishing scams, keyloggers and so much more, online shoppers can now be protected by using security tools for their devices such as VPNs, tracking blockers, parental control apps to protect them when browsing privately online. However, no security tool will protect you unless it is used properly. Be sure that your security software is properly installed and configured before shopping begins, and see that it is updated regularly to remain effective.
Keep track of your payment method – If there is suspicious activity on your account after you have purchases, you must be able to trace it back to the website where your purchase was made. Your payment methods could include Pay Pal or some other online payment platform, debit cards, credit cards, or perhaps even gift cards, it’s important to document the method you used for each purchase and note which website was used. In fact, it is likely best to designate one credit card for online shopping and use it exclusively to avoid confusion.
Look before you click – Once you find a website from which you wish to purchase, take time to check the site’s URL to be sure it begins with HTTPS and not just HTTP. A site using HTTPS uses a secure network and will better protect your data. Even so, before you enter any personal information or payment details, make sure you are dealing with a reputable company and not a fake website or copycat website built to look like a real retailer’s site but ready to steal your data. A quick Google search for the name of the company or the URL of the website should let you know if there are negative reports available, and a look at the Better Business Bureau can show posts by dissatisfied customers.
Even with your best efforts, you might still fall victim to cyber crime and possibly to identity theft. So before you begin your online shopping, it is wise to check with your insurance agent to discuss Identity Recovery insurance which can often be added to your Homeowners insurance or Renters insurance. Find out what coverages and services are available to you and see how affordable this protection can be.
Feel free to contact any of our very capable and experienced agents at Schaefer & Delauder Insurance either in Germantown or Frederick, MD to discuss your home insurance questions. We can help you review your current insurance policy and explore your options to be sure you have the best coverage and protection according to your circumstances.
Let’s say you’re a millennial living on your own. You’re likely renting an apartment in the city. So you know something about the high cost of living. Typically, after you pay your rent and cover your other expenses, there is not much left in your budget. The last thing you want to do is take on another expense.
You might wonder what would be important enough to stretch your budget even further. It’s the one item that seems to have no value until you need it; but when you have the need, it can save you from crippling debt and lots of headaches.
We’re talking about Renters Insurance. It is usually not a top-of-mind type of insurance, like auto insurance or life insurance; but it can have just as much impact of your life, especially if you have losses after opting not to have it. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reported a study in 2015 showing that only 4 out of 10 tenants in the U.S. have renters insurance. The rest are at risk from unexpected theft, fire or liability.
It’s actually quite affordable. You might think that something that will save you from potentially heavy expense would be quite costly. Not so – renter’s insurance premiums will usually run just a few dollars a month – likely less than yesterday’s lunch.
The easy way to find out if renter’s insurance is right for you is ask yourself the following questions. A “yes” to any of them means you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Would it be costly to replace my belongings? Remember, while your landlord has insurance on your building, it will not cover your furniture, appliances and personal items. Do a quick inventory to estimate what it would cost to replace your things. If you find that the cost would be considerable, then renter’s insurance could help.
Are there other tenants in my building? If your latest cooking experiment goes badly and smoke spreads to neighboring tenants’ space or if your pipe leaks into the downstairs apartment and destroys an expensive carpet, would you be able to cover the cost of repairing and replacing out of pocket? If not, then renter’s insurance could be your answer.
Do I ever have visitors inside my apartment? Don’t forget delivery guys and other service people. If someone is injured in your space, you would be liable for their medical expenses. If you think you might have difficulty paying potentially thousands in such costs, then paying a little each month for renter’s insurance could be a better alternative.
Do I ever leave my personal items in my car? If you carry things like your purse, briefcase, gym bag, phone or other devices in your car where they might be stolen, and you’d find it hard to replace them, then renter’s insurance could be a good option for you.
If you believe that renter’s insurance might be right for you, then it’s time to take action before you need the coverage. Your first step is to estimate the value of your belongings, and be sure not to underestimate. Then sit down with your insurance agent who will help you explore the options and arrive at the amount of coverage you’ll need for your circumstances.
We invite you to contact any of our experienced agents at Schaefer & Delauder Insurance either in Germantown or Frederick, MD to discuss your insurance questions. We can help you to be sure you have the best coverage and protection to meet your own unique needs.