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Beware the I’s of Finance: Insurance, Investments, Identity Theft

The Nuts and Bolts of InsuranceMost people forget that they even have insurance. With the exception of an occasional doctor’s visit, it’s an insignificant benefit for which we pay an arm and a leg. However, being seemingly inconsequential matters such as being underinsured or paying high interest rates can be immensely damaging to your financial profile.Tending to your insurance generally consists of monitoring two key ingredients: rates and coverage. If you do not recognize either of these words, the first step is to call your insurance agent. Although you might hesitate to inconvenience him, think of all the money you could be hemorrhaging on exorbitant rates and insufficient coverage.Most agents receive commissions based renewals and new sign ups, not for updating you on rates that complement your changing lifestyle. Request a review of your policy once a year to ensure that you are receiving full coverage, earning applicable discounts, and staying informed about changing. Having this awareness will supply you with tools to shop for a better package. Also remember to keep an eye on your credit score as it can adversely impact your insurance rates.Take Control of What’s YoursYou have to know who is in control of your investments. It doesn’t necessarily have to be you, but it should be someone you trust and can consult with conveniently. The worst scenario is not being aware of your finances. If you need help to track your investments, hire a financial consultant or advisor through a trusted source. If you’re not sure of what your finances look like, find out whether you funds are depleted or you’re actually holding onto sound capital.Once this question is answered, reconsider your risk tolerance, a measurement of your comfort level with certain investments. Depending on your income, experience in the market, age, years to retirement, monthly expenses, and long term goals, some stock commitments can be perceived as jeopardous. Choosing items that match your degree of risk tolerance will decrease the likelihood that you will ignore your investments. Instead of steering clear from disappointing news, you’ll be curious to see what happens with your stocks.Losing Control of What’s YoursIdentity theft can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. It can tarnish your credit history and can take years to rectify. Because it’s such an invasive act, a common misconception is that the perpetrator must always be a stranger. More times than not, you already know that thief. Family members, employees, office mates, and friends can all steal away your financial identity. Moreover, thieves are capable of accessing your information in numerous ways, from fishing through your trash can to hacking your computer.You can prevent identity theft by being cautious with your financial information and frequently reviewing your finances. By checking your monthly statements, you can avoid false charges being applied to your credit cards and immediately report suspicious activity to creditors. Any document that contains your social security number, date of birth, online account information, or credit card information should be shredded to avoid this predicament.Also, check-in with your bank manager about identity theft policies. Even if an account is insured, it can take a substantial amount of time to replace stolen funds. This window of time could lead to bounced checks, late payment fees, and deficiencies on your credit report. Finally, enlist the services of a credit monitoring agency. Even though you are asked to pay a sign-up fee, it’s worth the peace of mind. Be sure to select an agency that agrees to assist you with problems as they arise.In the event that your identity is stolen, cancel all credit cards instantly. Even if you aren’t making the purchases, you might be found culpable if you hesitate to inform the companies. Next, file a police report. Although, you’re not necessarily asking them to frisk the thief, documenting identity theft with them validates the crime and enables you to file a subsequent report with each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Hereafter, you can take steps to have criminal activity erased from future credit reports.