(BPT) - The year 2016 was devastating for some safe deposit box holders. In New York, thieves cut holes in the roofs of three banks and brazenly emptied hundreds of safe deposit boxes, leaving the victims' pillaged boxes on the roof and strewn around the vault.
A stealthier thief in Florida picked safe deposit boxes in several banks, emptying the contents without damaging the box or leaving any visible sign of the theft.
These are not isolated incidents. On average, there are between 15-18 robberies or burglaries involving bank vaults every year according to the FBI. Millions of dollars of jewelry, cash, gold and family heirlooms are stolen, leaving devastated box holders dealing with unrecoverable losses.
Still the safest
Despite these occurrences, law enforcement agencies, FEMA, the American Red Cross and AARP all recommend safe deposit boxes to store valuable items, heirlooms and documents. A safe deposit box in a vault is superior to home storage even with a safe. Why? Because a residence is almost 20 times more likely to be robbed than a safe deposit box in a bank. And with rental costs starting at around $30 a year, safe deposit boxes remain one of the best values offered by a financial institution.
Today, most people who rent a safe deposit box assume the bank or a federal agency insures the contents. This is not true, and unfortunately, too many people learn this the hard way.
A standard homeowners policy provides limited coverage for some items in a box, but excludes losses from flood and other risks. They may also have a high deductible.
Specialty insurance designed to cover and protect everything inside of a safe deposit box - including cash, gold and important papers such as wills, titles, deeds, photos and digital backups, is now available. There is no deductible, and risks such as terrorist attacks, hurricanes and earthquakes are covered.
And because you do not need to identify what is stored inside the box to obtain coverage, you can maintain your privacy.
Clearly, there are events that no vault or safe deposit box can protect against. However, there are steps you should take. Safe Deposit Box Insurance, LLC (SDBIC), the leader in protecting valuable assets in secure boxes, has developed a secure storage quiz on secure storage options.
So, despite there being some high-profile break-ins, a safe deposit box is still the best place to store your documents, family heirlooms and other valuables. But because nothing is 100 percent foolproof, it's important to do your research, select the right bank and insure the contents of your box through SDBIC.
(BPT) - Your smartphone, your tablet, your computer - they are some of your most important and most used possessions. They are the daily tools you use for research, to connect with others and make purchases. You take them everywhere and fill them with your important, personal information.
And all of that makes them the perfect targets for a cyberattack.
The number of cybercrime incidents in the United States grows each year, and as Americans move into an increasingly digital society - thanks to smart phones, smart cars and smart in-home technologies - cybercrime is expected to grow in frequency again in 2017. Protecting yourself, your family and the vital information on your devices means increasing your focus on your own cybersecurity. That starts with these five tips.
* Recognize you're not immune. Cyberattacks increase in frequency and severity every year, so don't make the mistake of believing it can't happen to you. "It's important to protect yourself by taking personal responsibility for your data; we can't expect banks or other institutions to do it for us," said Jim Karagiannes, Ph.D., professor in DeVry University's College of Engineering & Information Services.
"We lock our doors and take other security measures to protect our home and car. We need to also take precautions with our personal security and information."
* Don't store your username, password or credit card information with a website. The convenience makes it tempting, but websites are a popular target for cybercriminals because a successful hack gives them access to hundreds or thousands of files, including yours. Even storing this information on your own computer can expose it in a cyberattack, and if your credit card information is captured, criminals can use it to gather your social security number. That exposes you to identify theft. Keep this information off your devices and, instead, create complex passwords and write down all of your usernames and passwords on a piece of paper that you keep in a safe place, such as a deposit box.
* Use only a credit card, not a debit card, when making online purchases. Using your credit card instead of your debit card allows you to keep better track of the purchases you have made. It also limits the effects of any possible theft to just the one card instead of several. If you have no choice but to use a debit card for an online purchase, do not use your pin number online.
* If it feels like a trick, it probably is. Cybercriminals often engage in "social engineering" or other non-electronic methods to try and trick you into surrendering your data. If you get a phone call about a banking or credit card issue or if your computer tells you to call a number because it just caught a virus, be cautious. Do not divulge any personal history or credit card details. Hang up or ignore the computer-generated notices and call the customer service number of the institution's website with any questions.
* Replace your existing credit cards with chip cards as soon as possible. Chip cards are becoming the new normal these days, and if your current credit card does not have a silver square chip on its front, consider replacing it quickly. Popularized in Europe, chip cards possess the necessary encrypted information to eliminate delays in the transaction process. Doing so closes the window criminals need to steal your personal information, thus protecting you from identity theft.
You have no intention of abandoning your devices, of course, so protect them. Following the tips above will help better secure your technology and personal information from the threats of cybercrime so you can enjoy your devices with greater peace of mind.
(BPT) - Your Facebook profile is a representation of you on the Web. It's where you connect with friends, learn the latest news and find the best reviews of the restaurants and products you enjoy every day. You use your Facebook profile all the time, so you want to make sure the information you display on Facebook remains as safe and secure as possible.
Facebook works 24/7 to protect people's accounts, but there are also simple things you can do to take more control of your security. Here are three easy options:
1. Take a security checkup.
Security Checkup is the quickest and easiest way to add extra layers of protection to your Facebook account. With three simple steps you can:
* Control where you're logged in. This makes it easy to log out of devices you haven't used in a while or may have forgotten about, meaning you'll only be logged into Facebook on devices and browsers you approve.
* Turn on Login Alerts. When this feature is activated, you'll receive a notification or email alert whenever someone tries to log into your account from a new device or browser.
* Review your password security. Only use strong and unique passwords. You should never use your Facebook password anywhere else online and never share it with anyone.
You can start your Security Checkup any time by searching for "security checkup" in the Facebook Help Center, or by typing facebook.com/securitycheckup into your browser.
2. Turn on login approvals.
If you're only going to make one change to improve the security of your account, this is it. Otherwise known as two-factor authentication (2FA), login approvals provide an extra security step whenever you log in from a new device. You will get a special code on your phone that you use along with your password to complete the login process.
To turn on login approvals, all you have to do is go to "Settings" in the Facebook app on your phone or in your browser. Once you've done this, select "Security Settings" and check the box next to "Login Approvals." If you don't have login approvals turned on already, you should do it as soon as possible.
3. Use your Facebook login with third-party apps.
Your Facebook login allows you to quickly and safely log into many third-party apps using your Facebook account. Maintaining a login system is hard, and by using your Facebook account, you don't need to trust your login to every app you sign into. They never get to see your Facebook password. As an added bonus, using Facebook Login means you don't need to create and remember lots of new passwords.
You can also control what information you share with these apps by clicking "Edit the Info You Provide." And best of all, you choose whether to let the app post on your behalf.
To sign into an app with Facebook, simply click on the Facebook button on the app's sign-in page.
Improve your Facebook security today
In addition to the steps above, you can also visit the Facebook Safety Center, which provides additional tools to help control your experience on Facebook, as well as numerous tips and resources for safe and secure sharing. It also gives you access to the Bullying Prevention Hub, a resource for teens, parents and educators seeking guidance on how to prevent and address bullying on the Internet.
Your home comes with locks on the doors. Your car comes with an alarm. Your cell phone comes with a passcode. Yet every day you take additional steps to protect these possessions and the valuable information they hold. Why not do the same for your Facebook account? With just a few simple clicks, you can give your account a tune-up and more safely connect and share on Facebook with the people you care about.
Navigating Volatile Markets for a Secure Retirement
(Family Features) Persistent and significant stock market swings, combined with shifting workplace structures and an outdated retirement benefit system, are profoundly impacting Americans’ ability to save and prepare for a secure retirement.
In fact, a quarter of Americans age 50 and over exhausted all of their savings during the 2008 recession, according to a recent AARP Public Policy Institute report. And, at the same time, almost one-third of older Americans said their home declined in value, meaning they could no longer count on rising home values to help fund their retirement.
In order to protect your nest egg against market volatility, experts recommend ensuring you have a balanced financial portfolio that includes conservative, low-risk products that are less impacted by stock market volatility.
“The single most important step Americans can take to mitigate risk is to diversify their portfolios,” said Jim Poolman, Executive Director of the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council. “Sitting with a financial planner and using a retirement calculator can help you determine where you are, where you want to be and what savings vehicles can help you get there.”
While there are no surefire ways to avoid the effects of stock market instability, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you will suffer the consequences in the future, and things you can do during a market downturn.
Start saving now. Many people are focused on paying down student loans and other debt, or concentrating on more immediate goals like buying a house and children’s college funds. However, the cost of putting off retirement savings adds up. Every six years you wait to start saving, the monthly amount you need to save to reach the same retirement income doubles.
Avoid putting all of your assets into one type of account. While contributing to an employer’s 401(k) is a terrific start, it’s often not enough. To build a solid retirement plan, don’t underestimate the importance of a balanced financial portfolio. Your level of risk should reflect your age and your retirement goals. For example, younger savers have more time to recover from risk than those nearing retirement. One option to provide balance to your retirement portfolio is adding a Fixed Indexed Annuity, which protects your principal and can provide a guaranteed stream of income in retirement, regardless of market ups and downs.
Create a retirement plan based on actual needs. A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found 39 percent of people guess how much they will need to save without actually calculating their retirement needs. Using calculators can help determine your specific retirement income needs so that you can plan accordingly. Calculating just your living costs isn’t enough – also take into account rising healthcare costs, inflation and longer lifespans.
Monitor and adjust your savings strategy. Volatility in the stock market can affect your savings, as do your current expenses and future needs. Additionally, career changes and family situations can change how you should be saving. Leading up to retirement, your last few years of savings will be different than when you were first starting out in your career. A good rule of thumb is to spend five minutes every five years revisiting your retirement plan to make sure your savings reflect your needs and adjust for market conditions.
Learn more about options for managing your retirement account at FIAinsights.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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