Feb 5

Money-Saving Tip – Auto Insurance

Everyone loves to save as much money as one can. We have plenty of ideas on saving money and this is the first in a series of tips.  So this first tip, takes you out to your car(s).  Yep, we are talking Auto Insurance.  Where in many states it is a requirement to have upon when you register or renew the registration of your vehicle(s).

Independent Insurance Agent

Why is an independent insurance agent such a great money-saver? Independent Insurance Agents are not limited to a single provider’s options.  They typically represent a number of insurance companies, or “carriers”, and sell the products that most appropriately meet the needs of their clients. … Their expertise allows them to advise their clients about appropriate amounts of insurance and insurance coverages for their particular needs.

And you can feel confident knowing your independent agent doesn’t have a dog in the hunt when it comes to which provider or policy you choose. At the end of the day, the choice is yours.

Loyalties Aren’t Necessarily Better

One thing is sure, that being loyal to a single company isn’t always beneficial to the consumer.  Companies see this loyalty and utilize it to their advantage, by slowly changing either rates or the amount of coverage to provide.  This could end up as either you, the consumer, paying the same dollar amount but now for less coverage, or for the same coverage, paying a higher amount per month.

This could definitely could cost them your business.

One big mistake from a consumer viewpoint is that once your policy is coming up for renewal, 31% (according to the Insurance Information Institute) consumers do not policy shop for better rates.  They just allow their policy to automatically renew with the debit card on file and keep things going.  By doing this, the missing out of new discounts and/or receiving better coverage for their needs is definitely happening.

How to Choose a Insurance Agent

1. Licensing

Not every insurance agent is licensed to operate in each state. As a general rule, you should buy from an agent licensed in your state, because then can you rely on your state insurance department to help if there’s a problem. To find out which insurance agents are licensed in your state, contact the state insurance department.

2. Price

Many companies sell insurance policies and prices vary greatly from one to another, so it really pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes from agents and from the Internet.

3. Financial Solidity

You buy insurance to protect you financially and provide peace of mind. Select an agent that offers insurance coverage from companies that are likely to be financially sound for many years, by using ratings from independent rating agencies.

4. Service

Your insurance agent and his/her employees should answer your questions and handle your claims fairly, efficiently and quickly. You may also want to check a national claims database to see what complaint information it has on a agent. Also, your state insurance department will be able to tell you if the insurance agent you are considering doing business with had many consumer complaints about its service relative to the number of policies it sold.

5. Comfort

You should feel comfortable with your insurance purchase, whether you buy it from a local agent, or over the Internet. Make sure that the agent or company will be easy to reach if you have a question or need to file a claim.

Feb 1

Ways to Make Extra Money

If you’re trying to figure out how to make extra money on the side (and who isn’t?), it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve done the searching for you and found a few ways to make extra money in your spare time.

  • How to Make Extra Money Online

    1. Become a user experience tester

      Companies know nowadays that having a strong internet presence is basically requirement for their marketing/advertising needs as well as any e-commerce offered.  They spend a lot of time ensuring their website(s) are informative, and reach their targeted audience/prospective customers. Majority of companies need the use of user experience testers to navigate their website(s) and give feedback to what is working and what may not be working.

      If you find yourself pretty Internet savvy and have a strong opinion on how web sites work, there are companies available that would pay you some extra cash for just the input on any clients they have wanting this service. Companies like UserTesting, Analysia, and TryMyUI will pay for your thoughts on a web site.  Payments earned will vary per company and per web site tested.

    2. Take surveys to make money.

      Look into survey sites like MyPoints and Survey Junkie where you’ll earn some extra coin to spend a little bit of your down time taking a few surveys.These sites are however going to narrow down your interests and when a specific survey targets those interests become available, it will be sent to you.  So, with that said, surveys are not always at the ready to take and therefore,  the payment from taking any survey is not going to be always available upon completion of taking a survey.  These sites have criteria that must be met prior to cashing out and then receiving the money. If you’re the patient and persistent type, give it a shot!

    3. Get cash back from apps.

      There are plenty of mobile apps out there that can show you how to make extra money just by doing simple things.  Check out mobile apps like EbatesIbottaShopkickDosh, RetailMeNot, and Earny to score some extra cash without too much work on your part.

  • How to Make Extra Money with a Side Job

    1. Get paid for your photos

      Are you a photographer at heart or do photography as a hobby? Do you have scenic pictures photos of sunsets or sunrises, and perfectly staged meals or drinks, which are cluttering up your memory card(s) for your camera(s)? You can make extra money for your pictures without having to be a professional photographer. Foap will pay $5 for every picture someone purchases from you.

      Keep in mind there’s no guarantee your photos will be purchased. But even if you only sell a few, that’s some easy money for something you’ve already done.

    2. Drive for Uber or Lyft Ride Share

      If you’re strapped for cash but want to work on your own schedule, you might want to consider becoming a ride share driver for Uber or Lyft. You can drive as much (or as little) as you want and set your own schedule.  You are your own boss.  The amount of money you wish to earn depends on your location, and how often you choose to sign on to their apps and begin driving and picking up passengers.  Also your car must have valid insurance and registration, and be of no older than 15 years to qualify for the ride share.  A background check will be performed, so have a valid identification card at the ready and on you at all times.

    3. Become a Food Delivery Driver

      Not too keen on shuttling people around or having complete strangers in your personal vehicle? We totally get it. How about dropping off a to-go order of burgers and fries instead? Driving for UberEATSGrubhub DoorDash, or Postmates is a great way to make extra money in your free time just by delivering food to hungry clients.

    4. Deliver Groceries

      If you love the thrill of shopping but don’t want to spend your own money, this might interest you. With Shipt and Instacart, you get paid to shop and deliver groceries to clients through their on-demand service. According to the Shipt, their shoppers make anywhere from $16 to $22 an hour!  Getting paid for shopping? Sign us up!

    5. Deliver for Amazon

      There’s nothing quite like getting a package delivered to your front door, especially when it comes from Amazon. Everyone loves Amazon, so why not spend a few nights a week driving around town bringing people joy? Sign up to deliver packages with Amazon Flex and set your schedule for as much or as little as you want to work

Dec 27

BevMo Data Breach

Beverages & More, better known as BevMo recently announced that a data breach may have allowed a hacker to steal credit card numbers and other information from more than 14,000 customers of their web site.

BevMo, headquartered in Concord, CA, 40 minutes northeast of San Jose, notified the Attorney General’s office in Sacramento that someone was able to plant malicious web site coding on its checkout page of its web site.

The malicious code was designed to record information from orders placed between August 2, 2018 and September 26, 2018.  Information recorded may have been customer names, phone numbers, addresses, and credit & debit card numbers  and their security codes.

BevMo says the code was removed and an investigation is under way.

Nov 30

Marriott Security Breach

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2018 – Earlier today, Marriott announced that they had a security breach with their Starwood guest reservation database.  back on November 19, 2018 an investigation discovered that there was unauthorized access to their database, which stores guest information relating to reservations at Starwood properties on or before September 10, 2018.

On September 8, 2018, Marriott received an alert from an internal security tool regarding an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the United States.  Marriott learned during the investigation that there had been unauthorized access to the Starwood network since 2014.  The company recently discovered that an unauthorized party had copied and encrypted information, and took steps towards removing it.  On November 19, 2018, Marriott was able to decrypt the information and determined that the contents were from the Starwood guest reservation database.

The company has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database, but believes it contains information on up to approximately 500 million guests who made a reservation at a Starwood property.  For approximately 327 million of these guests, the information includes some combination of name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest (“SPG”) account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences.  For some, the information also includes payment card numbers and payment card expiration dates, but the payment card numbers were encrypted using Advanced Encryption Standard encryption (AES-128).  There are two components needed to decrypt the payment card numbers, and at this point, Marriott has not been able to rule out the possibility that both were taken.  For the remaining guests, the information was limited to name and sometimes other data such as mailing address, email address, or other information.

Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation.  The company has already begun notifying regulatory authorities.

“Today, Marriott is reaffirming our commitment to our guests around the world.  We are working hard to ensure our guests have answers to questions about their personal information, with a dedicated website and call center.  We will also continue to support the efforts of law enforcement and to work with leading security experts to improve.  Finally, we are devoting the resources necessary to phase out Starwood systems and accelerate the ongoing security enhancements to our network,” Mr. Sorenson continued.

Marriott will begin sending emails on a rolling basis starting today, November 30, 2018, to affected guests whose email addresses are in the Starwood guest reservation database.


PROTECTIVE MEASURES:

  1. If you have stayed at a Starwood Company hotel (Marriott, etc), then the first step you can take is to immediately call the financial institution that your credit/debit cards belong to and ask them to send you out at new card siting this security breach at Marriott and precautionary methods.
  2. Order peace of mine Identity Theft Protection from Zander Insurance for added protection.
  3. Contact each of the 4 credit bureaus (Innovis, experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and request a security freeze.  See our previous post pertaining security freezes.  Click here

This is your time to be proactive in regards to personal data security.