If you thought your biggest worry during the holiday shopping season was finding the perfect present at the lowest price, think again. While the focus may be on the competitive shopping people do once Thanksgiving is over, you don’t want to forget that identify theft is a real issue at this time of year.
Take a look at these shopping tips to avoid identity theft and security issues on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the holiday season.
Once you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey, taken a nap, and clipped your coupons (or saved them on your phone), you’re ready to figure out the best strategy to take advantage of all the deals. You also need a strategy to keep yourself and your bank account safe.
- Keep all of your receipts together in one place. Once the shopping weekend is over, check each receipt total against your online bank records to make sure they match up. Immediately report any problems.
- Beware of shoulder surfers. While standing in line at the checkout, don’t jump on your phone to check your bank account balance. Dishonest shoulder surfers, people looking over your shoulder to see what you’re doing, could be recording your finger movements to gain access to your accounts later.
- Skip the free wi-fi while you’re out. Hackers can gain access to legitimate free internet or they may set up a fake option. Either way, once you’re on, they’re tracking your every online move, and recording your ID and passwords to all the accounts you checked and websites you visited.
- Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are real. We may focus on the cyber issues, but people looking to steal your wallet still exist. You might think you’re being bumped into because of the crowd and really, they’re taking your stuff and running. Instead, keep the bare minimum you need with you and try to keep your credit card and ID in a front pocket.
Cyber Monday is all about the online deals which means your chances of online identity theft go up.
- Watch out for suspicious emails. Your bank, credit card company, and favorite retailer will not send you an email asking for your account information. Don’t click on suspicious looking links and definitely don’t open any attachments that you weren’t expecting to receive. Hackers use these to add malware and viruses to your computer to track everything you do.
- Beware of scam websites. If you’re shopping at a site you’ve never heard of, take a few minutes to Google the name of the company or the website address and add “scams” or “reviews” to the search. If there’s been any problems, you’ll find it before you place your order instead of after.
- Don’t be fooled by scam shipping emails. Identity thieves know that this is the time of year when you’re going to get multiple emails about your orders being shipped. If you get an email that looks like it’s from FedEx, UPS, or the USPS and says there’s a “problem” with your shipment, be suspicious. Track your packages by going directly to the shipper’s website, and use the online store website for any inquiries about your order.
Identity theft can be devastating – stealing your money, ruining your credit, and causing turmoil in your life. Take precautions while you’re shopping this holiday season to keep yourself and your identity safe.
Whether this is your first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner for your family, or you’ve been doing it for years and you’re ready for something new, there’s a turkey recipe for every taste. Take a look at several popular ways to prepare your bird this Thanksgiving so that everyone ends the day with a full stomach and a long nap.
When you smoke your bird, most of the flavor will come from the type of wood you use. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t season your turkey first. You can add dried or fresh herbs or brine your turkey before infusing it with the smoky goodness of whatever wood you select.
Yes, really, you can grill a turkey. This is a great option if you have a small kitchen and a lot of side dishes to cook. The cook time takes longer on the grill and the chance of uneven cooking goes up. It’s important to use both a grill thermometer and a meat thermometer to make sure your turkey is cooked through.
BEER CAN STAND
Using a beer can to stand your bird up isn’t just a good way to grill your turkey evenly, it’s also a great way to season your bird. Insert a partially full (which means you can take a swig or two first) 24 to 32 ounce beer can into the cavity of the turkey and stand it up on the grill, cooking over indirect heat. The meat will be infused with the steam from your beer giving it a great flavor and keeping it moist.
Maybe this is the year you want a real challenge or maybe you’re trying to get more protein into your diet. Either way, instead of a turkey stuffed with cornbread, you can always stuff your bird with a duck and then stuff the duck with a chicken, known as turkducken. Don’t be surprised, turducken takes longer to cook, too.
There’s nothing wrong with a good old roasted turkey on Thanksgiving. The important thing to remember is that you’ll cook your bird low and slow. Heat your oven to 325 degrees and cook the turkey for three to five hours, depending on the size of the bird. Roasted turkey is basic, easy, and universally liked.
WHAT ABOUT A FRIED TURKEY?
Fried turkey is a popular method on Thanksgiving, but it’s also inherently dangerous. Fire departments across the country actually caution people from doing it at all because the risk of injury and fire is so great. The fryer can tip over, spilling oil everywhere. Even a small amount of oil touching the burner can cause a fire. And if you don’t use thermostat controls properly, the oil will continue to heat up until it combusts.
The danger to you, your family, and your home is great. The potential for liability problems if a guest in your home gets hurt is an issue, too. If you’re going to fry your turkey, make sure your bird is completely thawed. Don’t overfill the pot with oil. Watch the fryer the entire time, and make sure you use thermostat controls. And never fry a turkey inside your home – always take the fryer outside.
Thanksgiving is a time to visit with family and friends, cook big meals, and eat until you’re as stuffed as a turkey. The last thing you want to do is send anyone to the hospital or have to call 911 because of a fire. There are so many ways you can cook your Thanksgiving turkey other than frying. Try something new this year and stay safe.
Every year, around the holidays, something goes wrong. The turkey doesn’t get cooked all the way through. Someone hates their gift. One aunt isn’t talking to another. Of all the things that can go wrong, holiday travel can be the most expensive and frustrating problem you’ll have.
Because it’s such a busy time for travellers, it’s important to be prepared so that the trip can go as smooth as possible, even if your time with family and friends is as hectic as ever. Here are a few holiday travel tips to make sure you get to where you’re going without as much hassle.
WHEN YOU DRIVE
Accidents, missed turns, and exhausted drivers are just some of what can happen when you pack up the car with luggage, kids, and the dog to visit Grandma. Make sure you follow these tips to make it an easier ride for everyone.
- Know your route before you get on the road. Use GPS while you’re driving, but take a look at the map online to get a general idea of where you’re going before you leave.
- Drive when you’re most alert and take breaks every couple of hours. If possible, switch drivers every 100 miles or so.
- If you’re a night owl or have another driver, consider hitting the road at night to avoid traffic.
- Check your car before you leave. Adjust your mirrors. Position the seat the way you want it. Make sure you have gas. Check your tire pressure and windshield wiper fluid.
- Pack a road safety kit in your trunk in case you find yourself on the side of the road. Include a first aid kit, a flashlight with batteries, jumper cables, reflectors, a tire jack, and anything that may help you if you’re stuck on the side of the road.
- Try to avoid driving at peak times. During Thanksgiving, that’s the Wednesday before and the Sunday after. For Christmas and New Year’s, try not to travel on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve or the day or two after the holiday.
- Give yourself plenty of time to arrive. If you feel rushed, you may speed or drive recklessly.
WHEN YOU FLY
Sometimes the trip is so long or the price is so good that flying just makes sense. There’s plenty of travel frustration to be found at the airport.
- Get to the airport early so you have plenty of time to get through security. It’s better to sit around for an hour than to miss your flight by a minute.
- Have all the phone numbers you need with you – the hotel, your car rental company, your family or friend you’ll be seeing – in case you experience delays.
- Don’t overpack your checked luggage or you’ll be charged an extra fee. Plus, you’re the one who has to carry your heavy bag from the luggage terminal to your rental or the cab and into your hotel.
- Print your boarding pass even if you use your phone. This gives you a backup in case you have a phone or battery emergency before you board.
- Check your tickets and your flight information the night before and the day of your trip, even if you’re sure you know what time your flight leaves.
- Don’t pack wrapped gifts. There’s a good chance security will unwrap them to inspect them. Instead, ship them to your destination ahead of time, and it will be one less thing to worry about.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of family and fun, but when you travel, they can become chaotic and stressful. Plan now for your travel needs so you have one less thing to worry about. It’s also a good idea to check your auto insurance coverage to make sure you have collision and comprehensive coverage in case of an accident out on the road.
Contact us at Charlotte Insurance, and we’ll be happy to look over your policy and help you find the right coverage to protect you and your family this holiday season!
You have auto insurance coverage. Your spouse has coverage. Your kids know that when they’re adults, they need to have it. As a responsible and concerned person, you’ve practically wrapped your family in bubble wrap with all of the insurance coverage you’ve taken out.
Unfortunately, when you’re rear-ended sitting at a red light, the other driver doesn’t have insurance. There’s no insurance company to pay the claim or anyone other than your insurer to talk to about how to pay for the damage and the medical bills. The driver who hit you is one of 30 million drivers across the country on the road with no insurance coverage.
It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
The good news is that you can protect yourself from uninsured motorists out on the road.
UNINSURED MOTORIST INSURANCE COVERAGE
There are two forms of insurance you can purchase to protect you from drivers with no, or not enough, insurance. The first is uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver and they are at fault, this coverage will kick in. Your medical bills and lost wages will be covered. This coverage works if you’re a pedestrian hit by a car or the victim in a hit-and-run accident, too.
The other insurance coverage to consider is underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Typically this is a driver with some, but not enough, liability insurance to cover the full cost of the accident. Their insurance will pay up to their limit, and the UIM coverage will cover the shortfall up to your limit.
HOW TO BUY AND USE UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
When you buy UM coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, you should select coverage that matches your current liability limits. In most cases, this will be $100,000 bodily injury per person and $300,000 per accident. UM coverage isn’t as costly as your regular policy. The premium increase shouldn’t be a dramatic change.
If you find yourself the victim of an accident and the driver says they don’t have insurance, you’ll need to get as much information as possible. Try to document the accident with an official police report. Yes, this means you may wait a while for an officer to arrive on the scene, but you’ll be glad you did when you file your claim. Get the other driver’s information – driver’s license, registration information, plate number, and the make and model of their vehicle. Take pictures and get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to contact later. Call your insurance company to file a claim.
Uninsured Motorist coverage is another protective layer to wrap around yourself and your family in case of an accident. You can’t control whether other people buy auto insurance as they’re legally obligated to do, but you can make sure you’re not the one who has to pay for their choices.
Contact us at Charlotte Insurance today for a free estimate to add uninsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy. We’re here to help you protect your family.
Spring and summer may be the fun times of the year to work out in the yard, watching everything bloom and soak up the sun and water, but there’s plenty to do in the fall, too. Now is the time to take care of your yard’s landscaping so that you’re ready for next spring. Plus, you don’t want to deal with dead plants, cracks in the driveway, or any other landscaping issues in the middle of winter.
Take a look at these fall landscaping tips so you can prepare now.
- Mulch your shrubs, trees, and flower beds. This will protect the roots from frost and help retain moisture if it’s a cold and dry winter.
- You don’t want to prune your plants as you do in spring, but you do want to remove dead and dying limbs, blooms, branches, and plants.
- When rain pools in your grass, it’s time to aerate your lawn. This will make sure that nutrients can get to the roots through the fall and winter.
- Late summer is the last of your major fertilization, but your grass still needs help. Use a high-phosphorus mix which will encourage the roots to take hold and will help your grass turn green earlier in the spring.
- Protect your shrubs and delicate plants by covering them. Hide small plants under a bucket and wrap shrubs in burlap to protect them from the harsh winter conditions on the way.
- Mow your lawn one last time in late fall to a short 1 ¼ inch length. This makes it harder for leaves to collect on your grass.
- Keep your leaves raked up to prevent slips, trips, and falls around your property. You don’t want to go to the emergency room or be liable for a friend’s accident.
- Clean up and repair your driveway, walkways, and sidewalk so they look good and don’t present a separate hazard to anyone on your property.
- Fall is also a time to plant new shrubs. This gives the plants a head start on establishing their root system. Don’t forget to mulch the new plants.
Taking care of your lawn in fall can be more pleasant than during the heat of the spring and summer seasons. Don’t delay too long on getting these things taken care of or you may lose plants over the winter or find yourself working in the yard when you’d rather be inside in a warm house.
Some of your landscaping needs are to keep your lawn looking good, but others are to keep your home safe for you, your family, and anyone who visits. If a visitor trips or slips while on your property, make sure to contact your insurance agent immediately. Here at Charlotte Insurance, we’ll help you navigate the process and answer your questions about your homeowner’s insurance.