Identity theft is getting creative… don’t fall for it!

You’ve probably seen the latest trend gone viral where you can get a glimpse of what you’ll look like in 30 years. “Face App” has gained popularity after celebrities like Carrie Underwood, Drake, LeBron James and Taylor Swift posted filtered photos of themselves on social media portraying an aged image with grey hair and wrinkles. While it may be the first time there’s been humor surrounding looking older, it also revealed some warnings of identity theft by the parent company based out of Russia. There may only be a few quick boxes to check when downloading an app like this but agreeing to terms you haven’t read is never a good choice.

In this example, anyone that agreed to the company’s terms allowed access to their photos and full licensing to use the photos however they’d like without any permission or the ability to take legal action. Driving along a highway and seeing your face on a billboard that you weren’t aware of is a scary thought, right? Even worse, that headshot could potentially be used for photo recognition allowing access to your bank account or personal information. Even the newest iPhone unlocks based on your smiling face.

This isn’t intended to call anyone out or make you worry if you were curious enough to check out your best Grandma or Grandpa look…. But it is a peek at what is happening out there in regards to identity theft.

Not necessarily for Face App issues, but there is a simple step you can take when it comes to ID theft and your insurance. Identity theft insurance is intended to cover the expenses, typically up to $25,000, related to restoring your identity and credit score (if applicable), not the amount of stolen funds. Such expenses may include: costs of executing affidavits, notary and certified mailing costs, application fees for re-applying for loan(s), reasonable attorney fees and loss of income resulting from time taken off work to complete theft/fraud paperwork.

Identity theft insurance can be added to your property insurance policy (home or renters), or possibly even your auto insurance policy, for approximately $50/year.

Tips for avoiding identity theft:

  • Keep the amount of personal information you carry to a minimum
  • Make sure you have up to date firewall, anti-spyware and anti-virus programs installed on your computer AND phone
  • Carefully monitor your bank and credit card accounts on a regular basis, as well as your credit report
  • Passwords should always be unique and never the same password used for multiple accounts/logins
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi when possible
  • Shred any personal documents or statements that you dispose of
  • Check for updates to social media privacy policies that you may not have been notified of

Cybercrimes happen every 14 seconds… is your business next?

Cybercrime is a big business, in fact 58% of cyber-attack victims were small businesses in 2018. If your business is attacked, the damage could cause financial strain or cause you to close the business. The lost revenue due to system downtime, the money spent attempting to remediate a breach and the reputational damage can really add up. While spending time and resources on making sure your network is secure and up to date is extremely important, it’s equally important to provide training for your employees. The top cybersecurity threat to small businesses is internal, because employees mistakenly let the cyber criminals in. While cyber threats change daily, the two most common we’ve seen recently are:

Ransomware– A virus downloaded via employees clicking on phishing links that is intended to bring business to a standstill, by locking up data with a demand for extortion money or else… the complete destruction of all data.

Funds Transfer Fraud– Hackers manipulate businesses or their clients to wire money into the hacker’s bank account. Simply put, money is accidentally wired to the wrong place.

 

Can it happen to you?

If you don’t think it can happen to you, we encourage you to think again. In the last week, two Florida cities have been hacked and over $1 million dollars were paid in ransom to gain access to their system. The details for these are below:

Lake City, Florida

“The mayor of Lake City told CBS 47 Action News Jax on Tuesday that the small city in northern Florida would give the hackers $460,000 to hand back control of email and other servers seized two weeks ago. I would’ve never dreamed this could’ve happened, especially in a small town like this, Lake City Mayor Stephen Witt told Action News Jax.”

Riviera Beach, Florida

“The leaders of Riviera Beach, Fla., looking weary, met quietly this week for an extraordinary vote to pay nearly $600,000 in ransom to hackers who paralyzed the city’s computer systems.”

 

It’s projected that by 2021, cybercrimes will cost $6 trillion worldwide. This activity will not slow down as we increase technology use, it will only become more complicated. Please call your account advisor today to discuss cyber protection for your business.

Calling All Moms!

One of the most important insurance policies a Mom in today’s society needs is life insurance…. so why do most Moms not have enough of it or any at all?

Historically, many Moms stayed home to care for the children while Dad worked. Currently, more and more Moms are working and with that, may not be covering themselves like they should.

According to Transamerica, 44% of women do not have life insurance. But yet, 40% of working mothers in US families are the bread winner. And it’s expected that 66% of the nation’s wealth will be controlled by women by the year 2030. It is extremely important for these working Moms to have the right protection!

Life insurance would be a great start to getting Mom covered. We all know most families would suffer tremendously in many ways if they were to unfortunately lose the matriarch, but life insurance could help sustain the family by paying for a nanny, a family member to move to help, a childcare facility, schooling, etc if Dad became the sole care giver. And Moms are busy, right? Now, there are even some companies that will issue life insurance with no medical exam! Less time spent and very little effort so Mom can stick to her juggling act of everything else.

Whether or not a family is fully dependent on Mom’s salary, disability insurance or “income protection” is also something that many Moms overlook. This too is a pretty simple process that would help pay the bills or get extra help if Mom is injured or ill.

Mothers are so valued and appreciated for intangible things so let’s not leave them underinsured! We’re always happy to help: nick@mcgriffwilliams.com or (352)371-7977.

Would your bills be covered if you were unable to work?

Often times, people underestimate the issues they may face if they’re out of work and their paycheck stops. Income Protection coverage could be a huge help… if you have it.

You probably have an insurance policy in place to cover your home, your car, your liability, even your life… but what about your income? Disability Insurance can help replace a portion of your paycheck if you are faced with an injury or illness that makes you unable to work. And unlike most insurance policies that pay the benefit directly to a provider or company, Disability Insurance is paid to YOU.

According to the Social Security Administration, one in four 20-year-olds will become disabled before age 67. One in five Americans (that’s over 60 million people!) live with a disability of some kind and one in ten of those disabilities is severe.

Speaking of Social Security, there are benefits there but tend to be rather modest. The average Social Security Disability Insurance payment is only about $1,165/month. Rest assured… You have options. Many employers that provide employee benefits offer short term and long term Disability coverage and typically at pretty competitive rates. However, there could be stricter guidelines or limitations when provided by an employer. You can also elect to purchase individual Income Protection coverage and protect a greater amount than you think.

You may not be able to predict the future but having a plan in place will make it much more pleasant for you and your family. As always, please reach out to us with any questions at (352)371-7977 or you can email Nick Deas at nick@mcgriffwilliams.com. We are happy to help and want you to feel as comfortable and protected as possible.

Don’t be fooled by surprise medical bills this April 1st!

Yes, it’s April 1st but don’t be fooled!

If you’ve ever heard “Be your own advocate!” when it comes to health care, or ever been in a situation where that would apply… you know how true it is. Things are happening in health care. Big things. And while some of them are huge innovations, strides with technology and more knowledge than medical professionals ever dreamed of… there’s still a bit of a dark side that the average consumer needs to be aware of. Billing. Womp womp.

Now before this gets misconstrued as a negative connotation of doctors, nurses, hospitals or anything else specific to the medical world, we are not by any means speaking generally or negatively about all things health-related. This is simply a warning to patients to pay attention.

Here are some quick stats from a healthline study to ensure that we are providing facts rather than opinions on this:

  • Up to 80% of medical bills have errors
  • Nearly 1/3 of Americans learn that their health insurance doesn’t pay what they expected
  • 59% of the time Americans are contacted by debt collectors is for an outstanding medical bill
  • 16% of Americans’ credit report includes medical debt totaling over $80 billion

Instead of pointing the finger at medical professionals or facilities for over charging, let’s discuss a few ways you can prevent being on the receiving end of those not so fun surprise charges:

  1. Speak up. If you don’t understand a procedure, diagnosis, treatment plan or medication, find your voice and use it. Ask questions. Make notes. Do some research. You know your phone is close by, look it up online and educate yourself. Yes, you should trust the licensed and very well educated professional that spent a lot of time in school to do this for a living but understand what they’re telling you and be sure you’re on board.
  2. Price shop. Find out if certain facilities perform procedures for less and why. This is common with teaching hospitals. This also applies heavily to prescription drugs. Don’t just use the pharmacy closest to your house because it’s convenient and they have a drive-thru. Look at goodrx.com or call around to others to see what their cost is. Now obviously, keep in mind that if you have health insurance, there may be certain pharmacies they work with or providers that are in or out of their network. But don’t just default to the most popular or most convenient. Your wallet will thank you.
  3. Request details. Ask for an itemized bill/Explanation of Benefits. Keep documentation for your records. Don’t just pay whatever you’re told without knowing what exactly it’s for.
  4. Channel that feisty preteen 7th grader in debate class that we know is still in you and fight for yourself. It might amaze you at how much health care providers are willing to negotiate if you can come to an agreement of either a payment plan, pay in full discount or overall reduction if it can be justified.

Your health is not a game and you can’t put a price on a medical necessity… so you should by all means get the best care possible. However, a little awareness and self-advocacy can go a long way and may even help facilitate a more proactive approach to good health… now that you’ll be able to afford it.