Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Beware: Imposter Scams on the Rise

Crooks posing as someone else try to get you to send them money or other sensitive personal information

Imposter scams are on the increase. According the the Federal Trade Commission, there were 382,211 complaints about imposter scams in the first half of 2018. This is by far the most common form of fraud, accounting for more complaints than the next six fraud types combined!

It starts with an unsolicited phone call, email or text. These con artists impersonate people and organizations you would normally trust.

• A government agency such as Social Security, Medicare for the IRS
• Companies you do business with, such as your bank or power company
• Familiar charities
• Celebrities
• A lawyer or debt collector
• A family member or friend 

The goal is to frighten you or cause you to make a rash decision, send them money or sensitive financial information, then they disappear.

Warning Signs

• You receive an unsolicited call or email claiming you owe money to a business, utility or the government, and risk dire consequences such as arrest or an account being frozen if you don’t pay immediately.
• A caller says you’ve won a prize or qualify for a grant, but you must pay an upfront fee to collect it.
• A caller claiming to be from a tech company or internet service provider says he's detected a virus or malware on your computer.
• You receive a call or text message from someone who claims to be your grandchild or another close relation and to need money for an emergency.
• The person contacting you asks for payment by wire transfer, gift card, prepaid debit card or cash. Scammers favor these methods because they are hard to track.
• Do confirm independently whether a business, utility or government agency is indeed trying to reach you. Use the customer service numbers or email addresses listed on invoices, account statements and legitimate corporate and government websites.
• Do hang up on unsolicited callers offering to fix computer problems. Companies like Apple and Microsoft will not contact you for tech support unless you have requested help, and they will not ask for personal information.
• Do report impostor scams to the company or institution being impersonated.
• Do cut off contact if you suspect someone you’ve forged a bond with online is an impostor.
• Don’t give sensitive information such as credit card details or your Social Security number over the phone unless you’re sure of whom you are dealing with.
• Don’t make a payment or allow remote access to your computer to someone who calls out of the blue offering tech support.

Source: AARP

HOV Lane Violators to Face Increasing Fines

The Seattle area commute is fraught with slowdowns and gridlock most hours of the day in one direction or the other. The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, which require more than one person in the vehicle to legally drive in that lane, are less crowded and save commuting time.

In an effort to beat the traffic jams, more and more frustrated single drivers have resorted to driving in the HOV lanes illegally, attempting a variety of things to appear like they have more than one occupant in their vehicle. The Washington State Patrol has found mannequins, Halloween masks on bags, sleeping bags with hats perched on top, and articles of clothing stuffed to look like passengers in vehicles they’ve pulled over.

HOV lanes are meant to provide faster travel times by encouraging drivers to carpool or vanpool. Most HOV lanes require at least two people in a vehicle. But with all the cheaters, HOV lane violations are one of the most frequent complaints the State Patrol receives.

New Emphasis on Violators
Currently, both houses of the Washington State Legislature are proposing bills to crack down on HOV violators with stiffer fines. Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, has proposed SB 5695, which puts fines for first-time offenders at $186. A second offense and the driver faces a $336 fine. Each additional infraction within a two-year period is a $686 fine. Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, has introduced HB 1710. His bill also proposes higher fines for first-time offenders and increasing fines by hundreds of dollars for repeat offenders.

Drivers who try to fool the patrol using dummies, mannequins or other items that create a fake passenger would face an additional $200 penalty.

When stopped and caught with only the driver in the vehicle, some drivers have come up with crazy explanations. One guy driving a hearse claimed that the body in the casket should be counted as a passenger.

Pets are not considered passengers, either. So your favorite pooch may go everywhere you go, but don’t drive in the HOV lane with just Fido in the car. It’ll cost you a lot of dog food.

If you notice a driver alone in a car in the HOV lane, have a passenger call 1-877-764-HERO to report the violator. If possible, report the license plate number of the vehicle.

Sources: Washington State Legislature, The Stranger, The Seattle Times

Armed Forces Day – Paying Tribute to Those Who Serve

Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. This year that falls on May 18th, and is an opportunity to show support for the men and women in the United States Armed Forces who risk their lives to keep our country safe.

How It Started

On August 31, 1949, Louis Johnson, the United States’ Secretary of Defense, announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days.
Bremerton's Armed Forces Day Parade.
The event came about after all the branches of the armed forces were joined together under one department – the Department of Defense. At first the Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on Saturday, May 20, 1950. Armed Forces Day was a day for the military to show "state-of-the-art" equipment to Americans. It was also a day to honor and acknowledge Americans in the armed forces.

Local Celebrations

2019 Kitsap Credit Union Annual Armed Forces Day and Parade
Where: Bremerton

Date: May 18, 2019
Time: 7:00 am - 2:00 pm

Bremerton is the site of the Armed Forces Day Parade, the largest and longest-running parade of its kind in the U.S. This year is the 72nd year of the event. This event includes the Heroes’ Barbeque that provides a free hot dog, chips and soda to all active-duty, reserve, retired and veteran service personnel.

A Day at the Races – A Salute to Armed Forces
Sponsored by USO Northwest & Emerald Downs Racetrack. Saturday, May 18th in Auburn at Emerald Downs. Gates open at noon. Racing begins 30 minutes after gates open.
Free admission to all military and their families.

Armed Forces Day
Where: Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma.
When: Saturday, May 18th, 11 am to 7 pm

Admission, parking, military displays, historical reenactments, entertainment and athletic events are free. Carnival rides, food and other vendor products are available for purchase.

  • • Military aircraft and vehicle displays
  • • Meet historians from the Lewis Army Museum
  • • Living history encampments representing military life in the past
  • • See mock battles
  • • Roving entertainers throughout the day, including “Blitz” the Seahawks’ mascot
  • • JBLM’s America’s First Corps Band on stage throughout the day
  • • Army vs. Navy rugby match at Cowan Stadium

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Biggest Risk to Your Home (And How to Prevent It)

Most people think the biggest risk to their home is a fire or a bad storm.  It’s why they buy insurance (and the fact it’s required by their mortgage lender). 

But in reality, the biggest concern is protecting your assets from a liability claim. Consider this possible scenerio:

Warm weather has arrived for the weekend, and the sun has finally come out. Everyone in the neighborhood is beginning their spring yard work. Mowing, planting flowers, and digging those vegetable gardens. There is a lot of work to be done!

So, let's say that you've dug a large hole in the front yard so you can plant a new tree. You walk away for a moment and while you're gone the kid next door runs through the yard, falls in the hole, and breaks his ankle.

Unfortunately, you could be held responsible for his injury. But, not to worry, your homeowner's liability insurance is made for these kind of situations. It will pay if someone is injured on your property. It's also the coverage that protects you if the dog bites your child's friend (as long as it's not a restricted breed) or if your cousin trips and falls down your front steps.

If you have a large number of assets, then you'll want higher liability coverage. If the injury exceeds your liability coverage amount, then you could be sued for the difference. That's where an Umbrella Insurance policy can protect you. Contact SAV-ON Insurance; we will be happy to work with you to determine the amount of coverage that you are comfortable carrying.

No one can protect themselves by just being careful alone. There are too many possible scenarios that you could never avoid. But with the right insurance coverage, you'll never have to worry.

Call SAV-ON Insurance today at 888-867-2866 for a free review and to discuss how much liability coverage you need.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Boating Season is Almost Here - Are You -- and Your Boat -- Properly Covered?

It won’t be long now before you’re back out on the water.  Are you counting down the days? 

While everyone loves to hit the lake on the boat, there are a few things you need to take care of first.

Do you have your Washington Boater's Card?

Washington boaters education card
In Washington, if you were born after January 1, 1955, you must take the boaters exam and pass it to earn your Washington Boater's Education Card. Without that, you cannot operate a boat in the State of Washington. Go to the https://boat.wa.gov/ to find out more and sign up for the test.

Are you properly covered?

Since boat insurance isn’t required (in most states), a lot of people skip it in order to save money.  But that’s a very risky idea! 

Boat insuranceFirst, without coverage, you’re risking all the money you spent on your boat.  Would you drive your expensive car without insurance?  Probably not! 

Second, boats and personal watercraft (jet skis) are a liability exposure.  That means that they open you up to lawsuits.  If you were to have an accident and damage someone’s boat or personal property, then you could be held responsible.

With the proper insurance coverage, this wouldn’t be a problem. You’d be protected!  In fact, we typically recommend that clients with a high level of assets purchase extra liability coverage if they own a boat.

All in all, purchasing boat owner's insurance is a simple way to give yourself a lot of peace of mind.  Who wants to worry about insurance when they’re out on the water?  

Call SAV-ON today at 888-867-2866 for a free quote on your boat or personal watercraft.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Year-round Daylight Saving Time Coming to Washington State

When you switched your clocks one hour ahead in March, it was probably the last time you'll ever need to do it. The Washington Legislature is following the lead of California and is moving bills through the Senate and House that would make Daylight Time the law of the land permanently.

It's not a new idea. Various measures have been proposed in Washington, as well as other states, for many years. This year is different; there's plenty of momentum this time, says Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside, the sponsor of the State Senate's version of the bill (SB 5139).

One reason the previous efforts failed was because the bills proposed adopting Standard Time as the permanent solution. We currently have Pacific Standard Time from October to March during the winter months, when there aren't as many outdoor activities that require sunlight, and the weather isn't very conducive to evening outings. 

Originally Daylight Saving Time was instituted so farmers had an extra hour of daylight for farming, then we reverted back when the farming season ended in the fall. Now most farming goes on all year, so the thinking was to keep an extra hour of daylight throughout the year.

Another sponsor of the bill, Sen. Sam Hunt of Olympia, said he found that people wanted an extra hour of daylight in the evening, not in the morning.

The state Senate passed its version of the bill on March 12th by a vote of 46-3, and has been sent to State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections, where it is expected to be approved. Check on its status here

A similar proposal, House Bill 1196, worked its way through the State House, and on March 9, 2019 was passed by a vote of 89-7. Check on its status here

A final bill will be sent to Governor Inslee's desk for approval, and it will propose it be authorized by Congress. It would then go into effect next year.

What if Congress refuses to authorize the switch? Then Washington's legislature proposes that the state seek approval to change Washington to year-round Mountain Standard Time, which would have the same effect.

This action follows the lead of California voters, who have already approved permanent Daylight Time, and this state's sponsors say it's important that the entire West Coast be unified in their approach to time. Oregon is also considering the change to permanent Daylight Time, which would make the entire West Coast be in permanent Daylight Time.

On the east coast, Florida has passed the "Sunshine Protection Act", which keeps clocks the same year-round, and the Tennessee legislature is also considering it this year.

Whatever way it works out, it looks like Washingtonians won't be needing to change their clocks twice a year anymore. But, you won't be getting off scot-free; it's still going to be important to check your smoke detectors twice a year!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Prepare Now for Unpredictable March Weather

March is almost here, and with it comes some of the most unpredictable weather of the whole year! Be prepared for March and you could save yourself a lot of problems.That means being ready for whatever Mother Nature decides to bring!

You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. It’s not quite that simple anymore, with climate change affecting much of our weather, but you get the idea. One day it’s windy and cold with some snow, and a couple days later the sun comes out and you don’t need a jacket!

What do you need to do this month to keep your home running smoothly and your family protected?  Read below to find out! 

Change Batteries in Smoke Detectors - When Daylight Saving Time makes you move your clocks ahead one hour on Sunday morning, March 10th, it’s a great idea to change the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at that time.  This way you always know that they are working and in good order!

Make a Severe Weather Plan - Designate a safe place in your home in case of bad weather.  Stock it with basic emergency food and supplies, and throw in an extra flashlight and batteries too!

Check Your Credit Report - March is Credit Education Month.  When was the last time you checked to see that your credit reports were accurate?  If it’s been over a year, stop by www.annualcreditreport.com and order a free copy today.

Flood Insurance Coverage - Do you live near a river or lowland area prone to flooding? With all the snow we’ve had this year (a record amount in February!), when the snow starts melting in the mountains it could mean some severe flooding in the lowland areas around Western Washington. But don’t wait! Flood insurance has a 30-day delay before it takes effect in this state, so it’s important to add that coverage BEFORE a flood occurs or you may not be covered.

Review Your Insurance Discounts - Are you getting all the discounts you qualify for?  March is a good time to call your SAV-ON agent and setup an appointment to review your policy and see if there are any changes that need to be made.

And as always, call SAV-ON Insurance Agencies at 888-867-2866 if you have any questions or need assistance with auto, home, business, or life insurance.