Understanding Identity Theft

Your Identity Belongs to You. Protect It, Too.

One smart way to protect yourself against identity theft is to prevent it. If your identity is stolen, you’ll be able to lessen problems by acting quickly.

Start with Good Habits

  • Print out the .pdf of this information, and store in a convenient place
  • Leave your Social Security card at home in a safe place
  • Shred papers with personal information
  • Reduce your credit card accounts, and carry only the cards you need
  • Write checks with a permanent pen, and mail from a secure place
  • Photocopy both sides of your credit cards and store safely

Watch Your Accounts Closely

  • Review balances and transactions often by phone or online
  • Make sure every transaction on your credit card statements is accurate
  • Take advantage of free credit reports (see sidebar) and watch for unusual activity
  • Sign up with Experian, Transunion, and Equifax and stagger your requests to get a free credit report every four months or sign up for credit watch services which will report directly to you for a fee

Fill Out the FTC Affidavit Quickly

  • The FTC Theft Affidavit supplies proof that you didn’t authorize any accounts opened or debts run up by the identity thief
  • New accounts need this FTC affidavit form to investigate the fraud and process your claim
  • Call your existing accounts for instructions on disputing unauthorized charges as other forms may be needed
  • Keep originals of the affidavit, and all supporting materials such as driver’s license or police report. Send copies only.
  • Send quickly—many creditors request that you send the affidavit within two weeks

Keep This Information Handy

Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Line and websites:

1-877-438-4338

www.consumer.gov/idtheft
www.ftc.gov

Social Security Administration Fraud Line:   1-800-269-0271 

Credit Reporting Agencies
Equifax:  1-800-525-6285      
www.equifax.com

Experian:  1-888-397-3742
www.experian.com

Transunion:  1-800-680-7289 
www.transunion.com

Identity Theft Plan

  1. Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
  2. Call and report to the police. Make several copies of police report.
  3. Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (see contact information above to request these forms).
  4. Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver’s License number and Social Security Number, and freeze your account.
  5. Call fraud units of credit report agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.

Give Your Home an Energy Checkup

Over time, your home may not be as energy efficient as it once was. Left unchecked, it will continue to waste energy; costing you money. A home energy checkup is a series of tests and inspections that look for ways to make your home more energy efficient; saving you money.

Steps in a Home Energy Checkup

While you can perform some of the steps yourself, a thorough home energy checkup should be conducted by an energy auditor. A professional auditor uses a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of your home.

Appalachian Power offers a variety of energy efficiency programs for its West Virginia customers, including a free and easy to complete Online Energy Checkup. Once your complete the online assessment, Appalachian Power will send you a free energy efficiency kit to help you get on your way to saving money and energy.

On the AEPrebates.com site, there is a lot of information about energy efficiency programs for Appalachian Power customers, including a list of contractors who can help with your improvement projects.

Outside—the auditor will begin by inspecting the outside of your home, looking for problems around walls, joints, or doors and windows.

Attic—the next stop on your energy assessment may be the attic. The auditor will make sure that you have the right amount of insulation, and check for air leaks, as well as proper ventilation.

Walls—wall insulation should meet recommended R-values and should be evenly applied throughout the structure. If it is attached loosely or has fallen down, it is not doing its job. Your auditor will use a thermographic scanner to inspect your walls to determine if they are insulated properly.

Basement—the auditor will look for air leaks in the area where the basement walls meet the ceiling. If you have a crawlspace, it should be inspected for proper insulation. Next, the heating and cooling system will be checked for regular maintenance. Something as simple as a dirty air filter could be costing you money. Depending on the age of your heating and cooling system and your water heater, the auditor may recommend upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient units.

Ductwork—the auditor will inspect connections to make sure they fit tightly. They must be sealed to keep the conditioned air going where it is supposed to go.

Blower Door Test—this test measures the overall air tightness of your home. Blower doors consist of a frame and panel that fit inside an exterior door, a fan, and a pressure gauge. As the fan pulls air out of the house, it lowers the interior air pressure. The higher pressure, outside air then flows in through all unsealed openings. With the fan operating, the auditor can spot leaks using an infrared camera or smoke pencil.

An energy checkup will reveal the various ways energy is escaping your home. Your auditor may suggest additional ways to save energy, such as installing low-flow faucets and shower heads, or switching to energy-efficient compact-fluorescent lights (CFLs). At the end of the checkup, you will receive a comprehensive report showing which energy-efficiency measures are right for you. Upgrading your home to save energy can reduce your utility bills by up to 30%.

10 Things You Should Know About Purchasing Home Insurance

You Need Home Insurance

Homeowners need to buy home insurance to protect their homes and personal property. Those who rent need insurance to protect their furniture and other personal property. Everyone needs protection against liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property.

Decide How Much Coverage You Need

The better your coverage, the less you will have to pay out of your own pocket if disaster strikes. In some cases, your lender decides how much coverage you need and may require you to buy a policy that covers at least the amount of the mortgage. It is important to note that the amount of coverage you buy for your house, contents and personal property will affect the price you pay.

Compare Deductibles

The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket on each claim and applies only to coverage on your house and personal property. Make sure when choosing a policy that you are comfortable paying the deductible if you make a claim. Remember, a policy with a $100 deductible will cost more than one with a $250 deductible. Higher deductibles may be available at a reduced price.

Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value?

You have the option to choose to insure your home and belongings for either replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality, without deducting for depreciation. It is important to insure your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement value. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home afterdepreciation.

Shop Around Before You Buy

You are not required to purchase insurance from the company your lender recommends. There are a number of unbiased sources available to find out what different insurers charge for identical products and services, including your state insurance department, consumer publications and your public library.

Ask Your Agent About Discounts

In some states, insurers offer lower prices for such things as insuring your home and car with the same company, installing deadbolt locks or alarm systems or replacing the roof.

Basic Coverages Available

Whether you own or rent, there are different packages of home insurance offered to protect your home and belongings. Each package protects against a specified number of events that cause damage to property. Three examples are fire, windstorm and theft. In addition, each package policy usually contains four additional types of coverage: property damage, additional living expenses, personal liability and medical payments.

Where to Shop

Check the newspaper and yellow pages of the telephone directory for companies and agents in your area. In addition, ask your neighbors, relatives and friends for recommendations on insurance companies and agents. Remember to shop around to get the best price and service.

Read Your Policy Carefully

You should be aware that a home insurance policy is a legal contract. It is written so that your rights and responsibilities as well as those of the insurance company are clearly stated. When you purchase home insurance, you will receive a policy. You should read that policy and make certain you understand its contents. Keep your policy in a safe place and know the name of your insurer.

Review Your Home Insurance Needs Every Year

Check with your insurance agent at least once a year to make sure your policy provides adequate coverage. The addition of a room, new insulation or remodeling add value to your home and therefore may increase replacement cost.

For more information or if you need questions answered right away, please contact us at Yeager Insurance & Financial Services. We are proud to provide affordable insurance for our neighbors in West Virginia… including Cross Lanes and St. Albans.

Two basic types of life insurance

The first is term insurance, which covers you for a term of one or more years. It pays a death benefit only if you die in that term. Term insurance generally offers the largest insurance protection for your premium dollar. It generally does not build up cash value, and it may not be renewable at the end of the term or may cost considerably more to continue.

The second type is permanent life insurance, which goes by several names, such as universal life, variable universal life and whole life. Permanent insurance may provide long-term financial protection. These policies include both a death benefit and, in some cases, cash savings. Because of the savings element, premiums tend to be higher.

A number of factors affect life insurance premiums. These include:

The age you purchase your policy. The older you are, the more expensive the premiums.

Your overall health. Life insurance companies typically ask you about your medical history, request access to medical records and even obtain blood and urine samples for testing.

Pre-existing and/or chronic health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer or sexually transmitted diseases may prevent you from getting life insurance or place you in a high-risk pool at greater cost.

Poor health habits, such as smoking and excessive drinking. Be aware that insurance companies may look back and consider these behaviors for the past five years.

Engaging in dangerous hobbies, such as skydiving, skiing or rock climbing

Your driving record, in terms of accidents, DWI/DUI citations, claims and tickets. The better your driving record, the better rates you’ll receive for your life insurance.

Your geographic area. Life insurance companies have access to regional data that document mortality rates and life expectancy, and they use that data to calculate the rates they offer.

Some of these factors are in your control. Others are a function of your genetics, occupation or location. Either way, it’s important for you to be educated on these issues so that you can make the best insurance decisions to fit your life.

For more information or if you need questions answered right away, please contact us at Yeager Insurance & Financial Services. We are proud to provide affordable insurance for our neighbors in West Virginia… including Hurrican and Milton.

Special Auto Insurance Considerations for Empty Nesters

There are benefits to growing older! At this life stage, you may be able to take advantage of several age-related discounts.

For example, as a mature driver (typically age 55 – 70), you may be eligible for discounts. After age 70, the incidence of serious accidents escalates significantly, so the discounts might cease.

Discounts may also be available for seniors who limit the amount of driving they do – for example, to less than 7,500 miles per year – or agree to only drive during daylight hours. When you retire or change jobs and work or stay closer to home – and, therefore, need to drive less – you should inform your insurance company. You may be able to get lower rates.

If you have worked for the same employer for many years, let your insurer know. Those who show stability in their employment may qualify for an auto premium discount.

If your children have turned 18, left home and are regularly not driving your vehicle, alert your insurance company, as your auto premiums may decrease.

Consider taking a senior driving refresher course, such as AARP’s 55Alive or a program run by the National Institute of Highway Safety or AAA. Participation in these programs may help you qualify for a discount.

Since your net worth may still be growing, or is at its highest at this stage of your life, consider whether it makes sense to purchase an “umbrella policy” to raise your auto liability coverage, for example to $1 million, in order to protect your assets.

If you are driving an older vehicle not worth much in current book value, consider dropping collision insurance. With older cars, the cost of collision coverage can exceed the value of the car.

For more information or if you need questions answered right away, please contact us at Yeager Insurance & Financial Services. We are proud to provide affordable insurance for our neighbors in West Virginia… including Teays Valley and Barboursville.

Tips for Lowering Your Auto Insurance Premiums

  • Shop around and compare prices
  • Maintain a good driving record
  • Take the highest deductible you can afford and collision and comprehensive coverage
  • Before buying a vehicle, determine the cost of insuring it
  • On cars with market value less than $1,000, consider carrying only liability coverage
  • Try to pay your premium well in advance of due date. No grace period applies to automobile insurance
  • Review your policy periodically and update coverage accordingly
  • Ask about discounts such as:
  • Multiple cars on a policy
  • Completion of driver education courses
  • Good student drivers under age 25
  • Mature driver (between 50 and 65 years of age)
  • Airbags and other safety equipment
  • Anti-theft devices
  • Low mileage accident free record
  • Auto/home insurance with same company

For more information or if you need questions answered right away, please contact us at Yeager Insurance & Financial Services. We are proud to provide affordable insurance for our neighbors in West Virginia… including Winfield and Poca.

 

How to Select an Auto Insurance Company or Agent

Choosing Car Insurance Company

The first step is to select a financially strong insurer

It is important to shop around to get the best price for the coverage you need. Talk to several representatives from a number of different companies. Tell them what your insurance needs are and ask them what their company will charge to cover you.

Once you have narrowed down the companies you are considering, call your state department of insurance and find out if the company is permitted to do business in your state. If they are not, do not buy the insurance and tell your department of insurance that the company is trying to do business in the state.

Check with rating agencies for a financial analysis, grade or rating of the insurance companies. These are conducted by several private companies and are only opinions. However, they can provide you with some information about how private analysts view the financial stability of a particular insurance company. Ratings are available at most public libraries or on the Internet.

Your state may also publish a complaint study indicating the number of written complaints your insurance department receives against an insurance company.

Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For more information or if you need questions answered right away, please contact us at Yeager Insurance & Financial Services. We are proud to provide affordable insurance for our neighbors in West Virginia… including Charleston and Huntington.

What Can Damage Your Car’s Paint?

Auto Care and Auto InsuranceYour car’s sparkling finish made it through the salt, sand and harsh temperatures of winter. But your car’s paint faces year-round hazards. According to AOL Autos¹, a car with faded paint and a dingy look sells for 10-20 percent less than an otherwise identical vehicle that just looks nicer.

Start with a good coat of wax, then be on the lookout for these common problems.

It’ll keep you, and your car, looking good for years to come.

Parking Under A Tree

Trees may provide shade, but they also produce sap and can drop twigs or branches on your car on a windy day. Your best defense is to make sure the paint is waxed. If you find tree sap on your paint, get some bug and tar remover from your auto parts store to dissolve it. Then, rinse and wax the area again to remove any residue.

Another Hazard From Above

Without going into the science of bird droppings and their reactions with paint, you can just trust us that it can wreak havoc. When a bird mistakes your vehicle for a giant portable toilet, the best thing you can do is remove it quickly. A wet cloth will usually do the trick, but be careful to wipe with a lifting motion so that you don’t grind it into the paint.

At The Gas Pump

You know the gas station rules: No smoking at the pump and don’t touch anything in the restroom (although that’s more of an unwritten rule.) But spilled gasoline isn’t just a safety hazard, it can cause long-term harm to your paint.

To prevent stains and rust, avoid topping off your tank, and clean up any accidental drips immediately.

Someone With A Bad Sense of Humor

Using your finger as a writing utensil to draw “Wash Me Plz” in dirt isn’t as harmless as you think. Dirt can act as sandpaper when dragged across your vehicle’s paint, leaving the writer’s message behind permanently.

To avoid this, get your car washed frequently to eliminate abrasive dirt from your car’s surface. Light scratches can sometimes be removed with polish or scratch remover after the car is clean.

High Speed Bug Collisions

Bugs hitting your windshield on the highway are gross, but relatively harmless. The real problem is the bug that makes your paint its final resting place. They are extremely acidic, and not easy to remove. After hitting the highway, get a car wash. For the most stubborn guts, use bug and tar remover as soon as possible.

Washing Your Car

We’ve suggested washing your car frequently, but be sure to do so carefully. Using dirty sponges or towels can do more harm than good.

Some older automatic car washes still use abrasive brushes rather than a soft cloth, which can scratch the paint. Another safe bet is a “touchless” car wash that uses high pressure water jets to clean your car.