107 Airport Rd. Westerly, RI 02891 (401) 596-0146 service@thorptrainer.com

How to Check if You’re At Risk for Identity Theft

Are You at Risk for Identity Theft? In 2020 alone, there were more than 1.4 million identity theft reports filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Luckily, there are things you can do to better protect yourself from someone using your identity. Before you can start being proactive, you need to understand how identity theft happens, what it can do to your finances and how to secure your personal information against the most common cyber threats.

How Does Identity Theft Happen?

Identity theft happens when someone gains access to your personal information, like your Social Security number, birthdate, debit PINs and other data, to willfully commit fraud. They may try to open a new credit card in your name, use your information to apply for loans and other lines of credit or rack up charges and debt all associated with your information.

Identity theft can happen in many different ways. One common technique, called “phishing”, occurs when you receive a message from someone trying to trick you into providing sensitive data like financial information or account passwords. Fraudsters can also access your information by stealing your mail or collecting personal information through phony websites or data breaches.

How often does identity theft happen?

Identity theft impacts 1 out of every 20 Americans every year and, unfortunately, many people don’t detect identity theft until the damage has already been done. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and take steps to reduce your risk.

How to Minimize Your Risk of Identity Theft

Safeguarding your personal information is easier than it looks. Here are some tips for protecting your identity:

Create Unique Passwords for Each Account

Make it as difficult as possible for cybercriminals to access your online information. Create unique passwords with a combination of capital letters, numbers and symbols for each account you have online, and avoid reusing or sharing passwords. This makes the password itself more difficult to guess.

Check Your Credit Report Often

Each year, you can request a free credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Regularly reviewing your credit report for any new accounts or large inquiries that you didn’t make can help you spot suspicious activity and may indicate identity theft. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to request yours and report any unusual activity as quickly as possible.

Review Your Credit Card and Bank Statements Regularly

Thanks to the ease of online shopping, fraudsters can access your credit or debit card numbers to make purchases and have orders shipped wherever they want. Regularly reviewing your credit card and bank statements can help you identify theft faster and notify the bank of any fraudulent charges.

Don’t Leave Mail Sitting in the Mailbox

One of the easiest ways for people to access your personal information is by intercepting your mail. If you receive paper credit card or bank account statements, make sure to pick up your mail deliveries as quickly and often as possible. You can also enroll in paperless billing and statements to further protect yourself.

Shred Old Documents With Sensitive Information

Don’t toss old documents in the trash. If you do, you increase the risk of identity thieves intercepting your sensitive information. Instead, buy a paper shredder or attend a shredding event in your area to destroy any personal data before throwing it away.

Use a Secure Wi-Fi Network at All Times

Internet-enabled devices are not always the most secure technologies. Before you make an online purchase or enter personal details on a website, make sure you’re connected to a secure Wi-Fi network. If you’re out and about, use your mobile phone network instead of a public Wi-Fi connection.

Only Make Purchases From Trusted Websites

One of the most common scams cybercriminals run is tricking people into buying from a sham website designed to take your money or steal your credit card information. Before you make a purchase online, research the website. See what others have to say about their products, shipping times, return policies and customer service. If you see nothing but negative reviews, it may be time to shop elsewhere.

How to Check if Someone is Using Your Identity

The sooner you can find out and report someone using your identity, the easier it will be to stop and repair the damage. Luckily, there are a few tell-tale signs that indicate your identity has been stolen, including:

  • New or Unauthorized Accounts on Your Credit Report: If you notice new lines of credit or accounts that you didn’t authorize, someone may be using your identity. Check your credit report often and report any unusual activity.
  • Bank Account Withdrawals You Didn’t Make: If you see mysterious withdrawals posted to your account statement, someone likely has access to your personal information. Notify your bank immediately.
  • Strange Charges on Your Credit Card: Review the charges your statements each month. If you see any items you didn’t authorize, it could mean either your card information or your identity was stolen. Notify your credit card issuer and let them guide you through the process of reporting fraud and getting a new card.
  • Collections Calls: If you start receiving calls for debts you don’t owe or didn’t authorize, check your credit report immediately and secure your personal information.
  • Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns: You may be at risk if you receive tax return information that has already been filed without your knowledge or approval.
  • Acquiring Identity-Related Documents: You may be a victim of identity theft if you receive strange notifications about obtaining identification-related documents, such as health insurance cards or your state ID.

If you notice any of these issues, notify the proper authority then call your insurance agent and see what resources you have through your home insurance policy. Do NOT provide personal information over the phone or online without confirming you are speaking with someone from the bank, credit card company or credit bureau.

Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts 
  • 8-10 potatoes, cubed 
  • ⅓ cup olive oil 
  • 6 tablespoons hot sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika 
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon pepper 

 

Broccoli Casserole

Directions

Preheat oven to 500°F (This is NOT a typo, 500°F is correct!).

 

In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, hot sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

 

Add the cubed potatoes and stir to coat. Then add the potatoes to a greased baking dish.

 

When scooping the potatoes into the baking dish, leave behind any extra olive oil/hot sauce mix.

 

Add the diced chicken to the remaining olive oil/hot sauce mix and stir to coat all the chicken. Allow to marinate as the potatoes bake.

 

Roast the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and nice and crispy on the outside.

 

Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven, lower the oven temperature to 400°F and add the marinated chicken.

 

In a large bowl mix all the topping ingredients together. Top the raw chicken with the topping.

 

Bake 15 minutes or until until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is melted and bubbly delicious.

Flank Steak with Tomato Bruschetta

cranberry orange scones

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Combine canola oil, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and Creole seasoning in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture evenly over steak. Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Cut across the grain into thin slices. Thread tomatoes evenly onto 4 skewers; grill 5 minutes, turning once after 3 minutes. Remove tomatoes from grill.

Remove tomatoes from skewers; coarsely chop. Place tomatoes, 2 teaspoons olive oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, basil, and shallot in a small bowl, stirring to combine.

Drizzle bread slices evenly with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Grill 30 seconds on each side or until toasted. Rub cut sides of garlic over one side of bread slices; top evenly with tomato mixture.

 

What is Home Cyber Protection Insurance?

We live in a digital world that has its many benefits like connecting us to our family and friends and giving us tools to make our lives more convenient. Unfortunately, it also opens the door for cybercrimes that can wreak havoc on our personal and professional lives – sometimes without us even being aware it’s happening. But protecting yourself and your data can be as simple as improving your online habits and taking advantage of home cyber protection to safeguard the things that may be out of your control.

Whether you own or rent, you likely have an insurance policy in place to protect your property and possessions from physical damage, but what happens if the damage affects your digital files or equipment?

That’s where home cyber protection comes in.

What Does Home Cyber Protection Cover?

Think about everything you do online. How many devices do you have connected to the internet? How many online accounts do you have with various companies? Each one of those activities and connection points is a gateway for potential cybercrimes, and home cyber protection can help.

Home cyber protection acts as a safety net in case cybercriminals target you and can help you recover information and financial losses should an attack happen to you. A good home cyber protection policy should cover some of these common risks:

  • Cyberattack. Cyberattacks are viruses that target your computers, smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi routers, security systems and other connected devices. Your policy can help protect your home from unauthorized access or malware attacks and cover the cost of removing the viruses or reprogramming devices that need it.
  • Cyberbullying. Online harassment can have a profound impact on your life. Fortunately, cyber coverage can protect against lost wages, provide reimbursement for temporary relocation costs, pay for expenses to resolve school disciplinary issues or costs associated with temporary private tutoring, and help cover legal expenses up to policy limits.
  • Cyber extortion. Ransomware attacks are a digital form of extortion. With home cyber protection, coverage can help pay for experts to get your files back or reimbursement for any ransom you may have paid, including expenses associated with cybersecurity to prevent additional events.
  • Data breach. While most people think of data breaches with large companies, it can happen on a smaller scale – even something as small as a school fundraiser. If you keep other people’s personal data, such as a credit card, on a device that gets stolen, you could be at fault. Home cyber protection insurance can cover the costs of notifying the people whose data was compromised and pay for credit monitoring services as compensation.
  • Identity fraud. This includes identity theft, phishing schemes and unauthorized banking or credit card transfers. With identity fraud coverage, you can get reimbursed for expenses to recover your identity and keep others from using your name or money.

Some home cyber protection plans have additional coverage. Ask your insurance agent if your coverage includes:

  • Access to fraud specialists. These specialists are expert guides that will help you through the process of recovery until your case is resolved. You can rest easy knowing that if a cyberattack does impact you, you won’t have to figure out how to fix it alone.
  • Active cyber monitoring. Some coverage can monitor your information in real time and help you prevent or minimize loss due to cybercrime.
  • Protection from lawsuits. If you face allegations for unintentional online libel, slander or invasion of privacy, your coverage may help pay for legal expenses.
  • Replacement data. Sometimes data is the target of cybercrimes or is affected by cyberattacks. This coverage will help replace or repair data lost as a result of cybercrime, like pictures or any other documents saved on your computer, phone or other connected device.
  • Retrieving documents. In some cases, people have important financial or identification documents stolen. Getting them replaced can be time-consuming but protection with a home cyber insurance plan may make the process a little easier for you.

While homeowners insurance and renters insurance are important, they may not cover everything you need. It’s important to talk to your insurance agent to find out what your current policy does and does not cover.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Cyber Theft?

Basic homeowners insurance covers a lot of things, but cyber theft coverage is generally not included in the standard homeowners contract. Cyber protection may be offered as an endorsement or a rider (an amendment to your policy that gives added benefits). Talk to your insurance agent about cyber protection to determine what endorsements would work for you.

Why Do You Need Personal Cyber Protection?

According to statistics from the Insurance Information Institute, in 2020, more than 170 million people were affected by cybercrime. The problem is not confined to computers, either – cyber attacks on mobile phones have increased, too. Data from Check Point Research shows 97 percent of organizations reported mobile threats in 2020. As we have relied more heavily on technology to keep us connected during the recent pandemic, cyber attacks remain a real threat to most people.

If you’re debating whether cyber protection is right for you, consider this: The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2021 T-Mobile had a breach affecting 50 million customers. Reportedly, some of the information included names, drivers’ licenses, government identification numbers, Social Security numbers and dates of birth. While all of this information could be used to steal your identity, having the right protection in place can provide peace of mind.

How Much Does Cyber Insurance Cost?

The answer depends on the type of coverage and where you live. However, industry experts say the average cost per household is about $1,500 per year. Costs will vary depending on liability limits, deductibles and other factors, but with more than 49 million consumers affected by identity theft, and a total cost of $56 billion in 2020 alone, why wouldn’t you want to be protected?

But home cyber insurance is just one piece of protection you should consider. The best way to prevent cybercrime is by staying proactive and making the right choices online.

How Can You Improve Personal Cyber Security and Protect Your Home from Cyber Attacks?

Besides buying home cyber protection, there are several simple and effective things you can do to improve your personal cyber security. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency suggests these ways to protect your home from cyber attacks:

  • Don’t trust links. Whether sent by email or by text, links can lead to malicious sites. Even if you’re positive the email came from someone you know, it’s best to go directly to their site and log in. Legitimate offers will be on the website, so you can still take advantage of them.
  • Watch out for attachments. Email attachments are a common source of malware attack, so you should only download or open attachments you are expecting to receive. Remember, a retailer likely will not send an email attachment. If you get one, contact the business directly to find out if they sent an email.
  • Keep personal information personal. You might receive a call from someone claiming to work for a bank, retailer or company you know, asking for personal information. Don’t answer. Instead, ask them for their name and a callback number. Then, call the business to confirm the request is legitimate.

Looking for day-to-day ways to protect your personal information? Use these tips for another layer of safety:

  • Passwords. Make sure to use strong passwords that consist of at least 11 characters. Include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Never use common words, phrases or personal information and update your passwords every two months.
  • Update software. Most software you have on your computer or mobile device gets regularly updated to correct potential vulnerabilities that can lead to cybercrime. To ensure the best protection, keep your operating system, browser and other critical software updated.
  • Consider antivirus software. Invest in specialized software that detects and neutralizes harmful computer viruses and other malware. Find one that works on your device and be sure to keep it updated.
  • Watch website URLs. When you surf the web, always double-check the web address you are visiting. Scammers can use a variation in spelling or a different domain, for example .net instead of .com, to trick you into thinking you’re on a legitimate site. If something looks off, leave the page right away.
  • Regularly check credit card statements. Keeping a close eye on your credit card statements can help you catch fraudulent activity quickly. If you spot anything suspicious, report it to your credit card company immediately.
  • Use alerts. Many financial institutions help you combat cybercrime by letting you opt-in for security alerts. If they notice an unusual purchase on your account, they could reach out to confirm it came from you.

Remember, the best thing you can do is to be careful with your information. Protect yourself now and be prepared in the event something does happen.

Chicken, Broccoli, and Brown Rice Casserole

Ingredients

 

2 (3 1/2-ounce) bags boil-in-bag brown rice 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

8 ounces pre-sliced button mushrooms

8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

¾ teaspoon salt, divided

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (12-ounce) bag microwave-in-bag fresh broccoli florets

1 ½ cups 1% low-fat milk 

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)

Broccoli Casserole

Directions

Preheat broiler to high.
Cook rice according to package directions; drain. While rice cooks, heat a large 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, mushrooms, and chicken; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Sauté 6 minutes or until chicken and onion are done.
Cook broccoli in microwave according to package directions for 3 minutes. Open package to release steam.
Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk or fork until smooth.
Stir milk mixture into chicken mixture in skillet.
Cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and thick, stirring frequently.
Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, rice, and broccoli. Sprinkle with cheese.
Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts and just begins to brown.
Riff: Try ground beef in place of the chicken.
Riff: Not a fan of broccoli? Try cauliflower, spinach, green peas, carrots, or green beans instead.
Riff: In place of rice, use 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked).

What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist are auto insurance coverages that protect you and your vehicle if you’re involved in a car accident caused by a driver with either no insurance, or too little coverage. Uninsured motorist insurance is valuable protection to have because it helps pay for your medical bills and damage to your property in a situation where you would otherwise be without adequate coverage.

But how does underinsured motorist coverage work? When you sit down with an independent agent to discuss uninsured motorist coverage, it’s important to know there are actually three coverage types:

Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UM)

Uninsured motorist coverage, also called uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance or UMBI, protects you if the person who hits your car has no liability insurance or you are the victim of a hit-and-run.

UM coverage extends to you and your passengers and covers things like:

  • Medical care for any resulting injuries
  • Lost wages if you have to miss work
  • Pain and suffering

Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM)

Underinsured motorist insurance provides coverage for incidents where the at-fault driver has insurance, but not enough coverage to pay for the damages they caused.

Like UM, underinsured motorist coverage extends to you and your passengers and covers:

  • Medical care for any resulting injuries
  • Lost wages if you have to miss work
  • Pain and suffering

Because they’re so similar, some states bundle UM and UIM coverage together. Talk to an independent insurance agent about the options available in your state.

Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Insurance (UMPD)

Unlike other uninsured motorist options, uninsured motorist property damage insurance covers damage to your vehicle. In some states, coverage may also extend to your personal property – meaning any personal items in your car at the time of the accident.

 

Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

In most cases, uninsured motorist coverage is offered as an optional protection. But, there could be situations – like living in a certain state or driving a financed car – where you may be required to have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in place.

According to a AAA study, over 700,000 hit-and-run crashes happened in 2015 alone and that number rises every year.

Even if your state doesn’t require you to have uninsured motorist insurance, it’s worth considering for the peace of mind you’ll get knowing you’re fully protected behind the wheel.

Taco Soup

Ingredients

Taco Soup

Directions

Step 1

Set an Instant Pot to Sauté, and heat oil for 2 minutes. Add beef to hot oil, and stir to break into pieces; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add onion; cook, stirring once, until onion is starting to soften, about 6 minutes. Add flour, taco seasoning mix, and ranch mix; cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. 

Step 2

Stir in stock, corn, tomatoes, and beans. Seal Instant Pot with lid, and set steam vent to seal. Change settings to Manual Cook on high pressure, and set timer for 2 minutes (Instant Pot will take at least 10 minutes to build pressure before counting down). Carefully release steam valve. Once steam is released, open lid and divide soup evenly among 6 bowls. Top each serving with cheese, sour cream, and scallions.

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
3 eggs beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 cup pecans
2 cups chopped banana

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 11 x 17 jelly roll pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl.  Add eggs and oil.  Stir until moistened-do not beat.  Stir in bananas, vanilla, pineapple, and pecans.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until done

Icing

1 8oz soften cream cheese

½ cup softened butter or margarine

4 cups confectionary sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup pecans

Beat cream cheese, butter, confectionary sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add pecans.  Spread icing over top of cooled cake.

Broccoli Casserole

Spring Storm Safety Tips for Businesses

Spring can bring about some of the year’s most dangerous weather and wreak havoc on many aspects of a company’s operations.

Dangerous Spring Weather

Unexpected severe weather increases the risk of property damage, injury and even death. Here are some common types of spring weather events:

  • Thunderstorms—Severe thunderstorms can produce strong winds, large hail, and lightning.
  • Flooding—Snowmelt, ice jams and heavy rain can produce large amounts of water runoff in a short period of time, resulting in floods.
  • Excessive heat—The second half of spring typically brings higher temperatures, leading to heat-related disorders or illnesses if employees work in outdoor environments.

Minimizing Risks

 While springtime weather may be unpredictable, businesses can minimize risks to both people and property by preparing for all situations. 

  • Develop a plan. If employees must travel to work, severe spring weather could put them in danger on the road. In addition, power outages could also pose threats to onsite employees, clients, and customers. Having a plan in place can help everyone remain safe during an emergency. Outline what employees should do in different circumstances. Conduct drills until the plan becomes second nature.
  • Keep an emergency kit on hand. This kit should contain emergency supplies, including flashlights, water, a first-aid kit, blankets, extra batteries, a toolset, and current contact information for state and local entities.
  • Secure the property and outdoor assets. If severe weather is in the forecast, complete preventive maintenance, close windows securely, bring outdoor furniture inside and clear out storm drains.
  • Back up data. Back up critical data often to help smoothly rebuild systems.
  • Obtain proper insurance coverage. Complete a coverage review to ensure there are no gaps in coverage that will result in an uncovered loss.

By minimizing the opportunity for property damage, preparing employees to act, and working with an experienced agent to ensure the appropriate insurance coverage is in place, businesses can better mitigate risks during the springtime. For more information, contact us today.

Common Auto Insurance Terms

  • At fault: This term refers to the degree to which a party caused or contributed to an accident. This term is often used to determine whose auto insurance company pays for specific portions of damages incurred as the result of an accident.
  • Liability coverage pays for property damage and/or injuries to another person caused by an accident in which you’re at fault. This coverage is required by most states to legally drive your vehicle. Liability coverage is broken down into 2 parts: property damage and bodily injury.
  • What is Bodily Injury Liability? If you are responsible for a car accident, bodily injury liability coverage pays for the medical costs of the people who are injured (not including yourself). This coverage also helps cover payment for legal defense in the event you are sued for damages.
  • Property damage liability coverage is required by law in most states. It helps pay to repair damage you cause to another person’s vehicle or property. It typically helps cover the cost of repairs if you are at fault for a car accident that damages another vehicle or property such as a fence or building front.
  • Claims adjuster: A claims adjuster is a representative from an insurance company who investigates and settles claims. This person’s job is to ensure that all parties involved in an accident receive fair compensation.
  • Collision coverage: A form of auto insurance that provides for reimbursement for loss to a covered vehicle due to its colliding with another vehicle, object or the overturn of the automobile.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This coverage pays for any repairs not directly related to a collision. This includes damages from fires, thefts, windstorms, floods and vandalism.
  • Covered loss: A covered loss is any damage to yourself, your vehicle, other people or property covered by your insurance policy.
  • Declarations page: Sometimes referred to as an auto insurance coverage summary.  This document lists the following for policyholders:
    • Specific limits for each coverage by vehicle (s)
    • The premium cost of each coverage
    •  Vehicles covered by the policy
  • Deductible: A deductible is the portion of a covered loss that a policyholder agrees to pay out of pocket.
  • Endorsement: Any change, addition or optional coverage added to an insurance policy. An endorsement may require additional premium. 
  • Garaging location: A garaging location refers to the primary location you park your car when it’s not in use.
  • Limits: Limits refer to the maximum dollar amount of protection purchased by the policyholder for specific coverages. State laws often require drivers to have a minimum level of coverage.
  • Loss: Refers to direct and accidental damages to a person or property.
  • Medical payments coverage: Coverage that pays for reasonable medical expenses and death benefits to a policyholder and any passengers injured in the event of an auto accident, regardless of fault.
  • Motor vehicle report (MVR): MVRs are official records held by states that detail a driver’s licensing status, violations, suspensions and other infractions incurred over the last several years. These forms are often used to determine premiums.
  • Named insured: The primary person the insurance policy is issued to.
  • No-fault automobile insurance: This type of coverage is used to compensate victims of accidents without having to prove who caused the accident.
  • Non-owners policy: This policy provides liability and add-on coverage for someone who does not own a vehicle.
  • Personal injury protection coverage: Sometimes referred to as PIP, this coverage pays for medical expenses, and, in some states, lost wages and other damages, if a person is injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. This coverage often covers pedestrians struck by vehicles as well. 
  • Premium: A premium is the amount a policyholder pays to an insurance company for coverage.
  • Primary use: Primary use refers to how a policyholder mainly uses his or her vehicle. Primary use options often include work, business, pleasure or farm use.
  • Principal driver: The principal driver is the person who drives the insured vehicle the most.
  • Rental reimbursement coverage: This coverage reimburses you (up to a set daily amount) for a rental car if your car is being repaired due to damage covered by your auto insurance policy.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM): This coverage helps pay for medical bills, pain and suffering related to bodily injuries caused by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured.
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN): This is a unique 17-character sequence containing both letters and numbers that identifies a vehicle.

To discuss your auto insurance needs, contact Thorp & Trainer today at 401.596.0146