Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Check Your Bank Accounts Online DAILY!

Do yourself a favor, check your online bank accounts on 
a daily basis (if not more frequently), especially if you 
have a credit or debit card tied to any of your accounts.  

Trust me, I speak from experience.  While online yesterday, looking at my balance and transaction information, I noticed that one of my accounts had outstanding card charges in excess of $3500 -- far, far more than I ever use on that card.  As soon as the detail screen opened up, it was immediately apparent that my card had been hacked.  It started off with rather small charges to a foreign Paypal account -- obviously not mine, and continued on with increasing charges for the same  description.  

Fortunately, those charges were all made yesterday, so checking out my online accounts really paid off, as the bank was able to cancel that card and send me a new one before any/many more charges appeared.  

If this ever happens to you, call your bank's local branch, or the telephone number on the back of your credit/debit card (you may need a magnifying glass...), and ask for the Fraud Department (or press the appropriate keys on your phone).  Tell them your card has been hacked and ask them to cancel the card and send you a replacement.  If you have access to your charges, tell them which ones are legitimate and which ones are fraudulent.  They should put a hold on those charges that you claim are fraudulent and put that money back into your account.  You may need to follow up the next day to make sure the charges have been reversed, as well as to see that they have allowed no further charges to your card.  Also, change your passwords and/or PINs related to that account.

I hope this NEVER happens to you!

Friday, September 5, 2014

"My roof was damaged by hail, why won't the insurance company replace the whole thing?"

Some times after a widespread storm (such as the one that came through Oakland on June 3), property owners believe that since their roof was partially damaged the insurance company owes them an entire new roof.  After all, you would't replace just part of your roof.  The problem with this situation is that insurance companies are only obligated to pay for the "damaged" portion of the property.  Often times a storm will cause enough widespread harm to the surface of the roof that the whole roof must be replaced.

However, if a person has a roof that consists of two sides and only one side was affected by the wind and/or hail, the insurance company only owes for the half that was damaged.  This particular scenario is unfortunate for the property owner because they will want/need to replace the whole roof, not just half.  Who's going to pay for the difference?  Answer:  The property owner.  As mentioned above, the insurance company is only responsible for the damaged part.

Granted, this scenario hardly seems fair, particularly if the property owner has been insured by the same company for years, perhaps even decades.  As much as your company and agency appreciates your business over the years, they cannot use that as a consideration to pay for something not allowed by your policy (such as the undamaged half of your roof).