TXINS December E-News: Don’t Feed Cyber Thieves!, Ask the Agent, Agency Happenings, Texas Trivia Contest, and More!

Don’t Feed Cyber Thieves!
Keep Your Private Information Private This Holiday Season


The holiday shopping season is well underway. Whether you’re shopping online or in a local store, your identity could be at risk. According to Javelin’s 2016 Identity Fraud Study, fraudsters stole the identities of 13.1 million victims in 2015 and used them to make $15 billion in fraudulent expenditures. In addition, 18% of the fraud using U.S. credit cards took place outside of the country, costing $2.4 billion.

Identity theft has become easier for fraudsters, who can purchase personally identifiable information such as names, social security numbers, addresses and birth dates, as well as birth certificates, passports and social security cards. Now, instead of stealing an entire identity, fraudsters will establish a new one using these stolen pieces of information, which makes them harder to track, but still able to do major damage to their victim’s credit profile.

Here are a few recommendations to help keep your identity and credit card information safe when shopping, surfing the internet, or traveling this holiday season.

1. No Phishing Zone
Beware of opening emails from unknown sources or clicking on links embedded in emails. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase from online vendors, but be sure it’s a legitimate site.

When shopping online, always look for the padlock icon in the address bar, which shows whether or not the website is secured to protect payments.

Make sure to only shop on secure networks, avoiding public, unsecured networks in hotels, coffee shops, or airports where someone could hack in and access your credit card information. Avoid accessing your financial information or any other accounts that require a password on public Wi-Fi.

2. Don’t Get Skimmed
Credit card skimming seems to be more prevalent around the holidays. Before you swipe your card, make sure there is only one card slot or there isn’t a piece of machinery around the slot to capture the information.

Thieves can attach a tiny strip of film to a card reader and download the information located inside the card’s magnetic strip to create a duplicate card.

Monitor your credit card statements and bank accounts to ensure there are no unauthorized purchases. Frequently, thieves will make a small purchase to see if it can go undetected before moving to a larger one.

3. Travel Smart
Holiday travelers may not realize their boarding passes contain personal information. Don’t toss yours in the hotel or airport trashcan — take it home and shred it to protect your information.

The same goes for electronic hotel keys, which frequently contain personal identifiable information, including credit card information. Also make sure to lock up important documents such as passports and credit cards so they cannot be accessed or stolen.

Avoid carrying backpacks or purses with an easy-open zipper. Easy access for you also makes it possible for thieves to quickly steal your wallet, cellphone, or other items.

Don’t carry a wallet in a back pants pocket. It makes for an easy target for pickpockets.
When accessing an ATM, make sure people can’t see your information or password as you enter them. Definitely don’t flash large amounts of cash around.

Skimming can also be a problem when traveling because it’s easy for clerks or wait staff to skim a credit card as the chance of a patron coming back and identifying them is minimal. Using a single credit card when traveling can make it easier to track expenses and identify fraudulent charges.

4. Monitor Your Accounts
Many financial institutions offer credit-monitoring services or fraud alerts to notify you when your information has been accessed or an unusual charge has been made to your account.
Some credit card companies, automobile associations, and other membership organizations offer credit-monitoring services as a member benefit. We recommend all consumers take advantage of these services if possible.

It’s rare your information is used immediately, but something could happen six months to a year later, so monitoring is important. Monitoring services will notify you when new accounts are opened or if your information shows up in places where it shouldn’t be.

With close to 100 million Americans planning to travel during the holiday season and 47% of shoppers using credit cards, the opportunities for identity theft are substantial. Consumers need to be proactive in protecting their identities and financial information from cyber thieves.


 We Are Here for You 

Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. is your trusted advocate. As an independent insurance agency, TXINS represents a wide network of A-rated insurance companies, which allows us to find the best insurance policy to fit your needs and budget. We don’t believe in cookie cutter policies and will customize a plan specifically for you. Your overall satisfaction is our top priority. That’s a promise.

TXINS offers complimentary insurance reviews to ensure you are getting the right coverage for yourself, your family, or your business. To schedule your review, contact us today at 800-541-9849 or via email. Together, we will ensure you are protecting what matters most.

The employees of TXINS are active members in our communities. Here’s a quick list of what we’ve been up to as well as what we have planned for the month.

  • The annual El Campo Open House will be held Thursday, Dec. 1 beginning at 5 p.m. and lasting through the Christmas Parade. We invite our clients and community members to stop by the office for a bag of popcorn and delicious desserts. We will be drawing our Grand Prize winner for the 2016 Referral Program during the Open House.
  • The El Campo office is an official Toys for Tots drop-off location. We invite you to come by now through Dec. 8 to donate new, unwrapped toys to be delivered to less fortunate children needing a little extra Christmas spirit this holiday season.
  • The agency will be closed Monday, Dec. 26 for Christmas and Monday, Jan 2 for New Year’s. We wish all of our family and friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We are grateful for your continued support and friendship.
  • Happy December birthday to the following TXINS team members: Marcie Ramm, Allison Silvas, Janet Corset, Gigi Luedecke, and Hector Gutierrez. We hope you enjoy your special day!
  • Don’t miss the new Texas Trivia question below. Be one of the first people to email us the correct answer and win your very own Texas flag!

 Meet the TXINS Team
Kristen Johnson

Kristen Johnson joined the TXINS team earlier this year and is very knowledgeable in the insurance industry, especially the Farm and Ranch department. Kristen is always eager to learn and willing to help out other team members when she can. She’s focused, determined, and gets the job done. Kristen keeps her co-workers in “health mode” when they are tempted to eat not-so-nutritious junk foods. This comes in handy during the holidays! We are thrilled to have Kristen on the team!

To learn more about Kristen, click here.

There’s no doubt about it, buying insurance can be complicated. And one of the most important parts of that process is deciding exactly how you’ll make your purchase.

My men in my family have a long history of getting prostate cancer. While I’m doing what I can to live a healthy lifestyle, I’m concerned about it. Is there anything I can do to protect my family finances should I be diagnosed down the road?  – George F., Manor, TX

Dear George:

Being stricken with a serious illness is something we all hope to avoid. Unfortunately, it does sometimes happen. When it does, it can not only disrupt our lives but can cause major financial hardship as well. If this is a concern for you, it may be helpful to look into Critical Illness Life Insurance.

What Is Critical Illness Life Insurance?
A critical illness is defined as any illness considered “life threatening.” These insurance policies can provide coverage in the form of a lump sum payment in the event you are diagnosed with specific diseases considered life threatening, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney failure, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Reasons Why You May Need Critical Illness Life Insurance
If you are concerned about critical illness, it’s natural to be worried about your future and how you will be able to cope financially. You may also be anxious about the welfare of your family and how to continue to take care of them and pay for your medical expenses. Your life expectancy can also be a very important reason to buy this coverage.

Some of the things people need help with when they are diagnosed with a critical illness include:

  • Coverage for lost earnings from illness
  • Funds to cover mortgage or rent payments and living expenses
  • Funds for medical treatment and prescriptions
  • Supplemental family income
  • Money for expenses if you operate your own business or partnership
  • Financial assistance with future expenses such as your children’s tuition

Will You Qualify for Critical Illness Life Insurance?
Critical illness life insurance coverage depends on a variety of factors that can vary from one insurance company to another. Each illness may have particular restrictions, limitations, or requirements for coverage.

Here are a few things to know:

  • If you’ve already been diagnosed with a critical illness you will not be able to purchase critical illness insurance. The time to purchase this coverage is when you are healthy but have a concern about the future.
  • An insurance company may require detailed medical information, including a medical exam, before making a decision to accept your application for coverage.
  • Your application may take from 14 days to 60 days or more to process. Depending on the specific policy, you may receive coverage fairly quickly or there may be a waiting period involved.

Because a critical illness can vary depending on the type of illness, treatment, and your current health circumstances, it can be a challenge to obtain this coverage. Your TXINS agent can help you to navigate the process of finding the most appropriate plan for your needs and budget and completing the application.

What Will the Insurance Company Need to Know?
The insurance company will need an assortment of medical information to process your application. A representative may interview you by phone, require a medical exam from your personal care physician, or send a nurse practitioner to your home to take your vitals and complete a questionnaire.

Some of the key factors that the insurer may look at include:

  • Your personal health history
  • Your current health, including your weight and body mass index, your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Results of a stress test

Critical illness life insurance is a complicated topic and you may have complex questions about what is involved in getting this coverage, and whether it is worth it. To get answers to your questions, talk with your TXINS agent to get the personal assistance needed to determine if critical illness insurance is right for you.

Do you have a question for our agents? Email it to us! If we choose your question, we’ll send you a thank you gift! Be sure to include your mailing address and phone number in your email.

Learn Something New Every Day
– At any given time, there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress over the earth’s atmosphere.

– Butterflies taste with their feet.

– In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

– December 13 is National Cocoa Day. Cocoa contains large amounts of antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. It has also been shown that the cocoa beans help with digestion. Flavonoids found in cocoa also have a positive effect on arterial health. To help you celebrate, stir up one of these yummy recipes and snuggle by the fire with a mug of warm cocoa. 

A Santa By Any Other Name

The holidays are a magical time and the spirit of the season encourages adults to share tidings of love, peace, and joy to each another. But for children, the holidays are mostly about Santa and staying on his “Nice” list! Santa Claus travels the world, bringing toys to boys and girls all over the globe. Have you ever wondered what children in other countries call the jolly old elf? Here is a quick list of what what Santa goes by outside of the United States.

Brazil: Papai Noel
China: Dun Che Lao Ren
Chile: Viejo Pascuero
Germany: Weihnachtsmann
Hungary: Mikulas
Italy: Babbo Natale
Netherlands: Kerstman
Poland: Swiety Mikolaj
Sweden: Jultomten

No matter what you call him, Santa Claus is the Ultimate Holiday VIP!

We LOVE Referrals!

Congrats to Brandi Redmon of Needville, TX, our November Referral Program drawing winner! Thanks for your referrals, Brandi!

If you love Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., tell a relative, friend, or co-worker about us. When they call to receive a quote make sure they let us know that you referred them.

As a thank you, you’ll receive a surprise gift and will be entered into our monthly $50 gift card drawing and our annual Grand Prize drawing for a $1,500 gift card!!!

(Grand Prize drawing will be held on December 1, 2016.)

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