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Potential Problems Loom As New Credit Card System Rolls Out

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Today, October 1st is the day that is supposed to revolutionize credit card purchasing. To find out if you’re ready, grab your wallet. Next, take a look at your credit card. It has a magnetic strip on the back, but it might also have a different feature: a small chip. If your card has one of those, it is part of the EMV revolution, and you’re ready to use it.

The purpose of the card’s chip is to increase security and make it more difficult for fraudsters to successfully counterfeit cards. Today’s transition deadline might not be as smooth as the banks and retailers had anticipated. To start with, while 120 million EMV cards have been issued, the Smart Card Alliance estimates that by the end of 2015, there should be 600 total cards issued. To say there is a long way to go is an understatement.

As with any new technology that’s being rolled out, there will be complications, and in the case of EMV cards, those complications go beyond just making sure everyone has theirs.

  1. 1.Longer Lines

Expect the lines at checkout counters to be a little longer as people who might not have known until today that their card is equipped with EMV chip as they learn their way through the process. In addition, use of the new chip device does not work as quickly as the magnetic strip reader. We’re used to waiting a few seconds after swiping our card for authorization to process, but with some of the EMV card testing, customers have sometimes waited as many as 20 seconds for the card to process.

  1. Forgetting Your Card

The new chip technology requires actually inserting your card into the reader machine for processing. With the longer authorization time, it’s easy to let it slip your mind that your card is still inside the machine, and walk off without it.

  1. 3.Your Card Might Not Work Overseas

In other countries that have already implemented EMV technology, customers confirm their purchases with the use of a 4 digit PIN, like we do with our debit cards. Most U.S. EMV chip cards will not have PIN technology initially, requiring a signature. Card readers in those countries with PIN technology will likely not have an option to confirm a purchase with a signature. So without a PIN or a way to sign for a purchase, the cardholder might be left with no options.

  1. 4.Limited Security

This technology is coming hard and fast to retailers and banks, and that comes with a steep learning curve when it comes to security and protection. Without the protection of a PIN, a simply possessing the card can still enable a thief to use it.

Additionally, the cards will not come with any additional protections for online transactions, so all the risks of shopping online with your previous credit card still remain.

  1. 5.Online Fraud Might See An Increase

Once security catches up and cardholders can reasonably make in store-purchases with the safety that the card makers intended, online fraud will be the easier, more attractive option for online fraudsters. When the EMV cards were introduced in Europe, they saw a 40 percent increase in online fraud.

As the new technology rolls out, be sure to have patience that the counters as we all learn a new system, know about where you’re traveling with your card, but most importantly, keep a close watch on your statements and be careful with how and where you shop online.

Citizens Wants to Encourage Use of Approved Contractors

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Most people don’t think about what they should do when something unexpected happens to their home, especially an unforeseen non-weather related water damage event, such as a drain backup or burst pipe. Such an event usually leaves you as the homeowner with two choices: you could call your homeowners insurance company and have them send an adjuster to adjust the claim. Or, and this is the more pragmatic option, you could call an emergency response company that specializes in water restoration and they’ll be at your door in less than two hours.

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation would like to put an end to the fact that homeowners have two choices, and leave them with only the first option. Citizens wants to eliminate the Assignment of Benefits, the document homeowners sign that allows their chosen restoration company to bill directly to the homeowners’ insurance provider. The Assignment of Benefits, however, has been held in the legislature and the courts as good public policy.

After all, if a homeowner standing in four inches of water in their living room can’t call the restoration company on their own, they’re stuck waiting for an adjuster to come and adjust the claim. That could take days, maybe even a week. In that amount of time, mold, rot and bacteria take root in the home and the repairs will have to be a lot more costly and extensive.

But that’s exactly what Citizens wants their policyholders to do: call them first. Citizens is a state-run homeowner’s insurance carrier that holds more than a half million policies in Florida, and its plan is to lobby the state legislature for a state law mandating that Citizens policyholders have any non-weather related water loss remediated by a Citizens-approved our in-house restoration company.

That would be bad public policy for a couple of reasons; the first being that it takes away homeowners’ choice in the free market to shop around for recommended and reputable restoration companies. Homeowners have to let the restoration company into their home, why shouldn’t they get to choose? They should have the right to choose, and to this point the courts and the legislature have held that.

The second reason is simply the quality of the work. By insourcing the work of public adjusters and water remediation companies to “pre-approved” or even in-house companies, Citizens is effectively guaranteeing a sharp decline in the quality of work done in these emergency situations. If your home is flooded and you have to invite a company into your home chosen by your insurance company, you’re getting the cheapest bidder on the job. Nobody should have to settle for a remediation company that is only looking out for the insurance company’s interest.

Citizens will decide whether to lobby the legislature at their next Board of Governor’s meeting in December. Check here for updates, but in the meantime, tell your representative that you demand to have a choice in water remediation and restoration.


Information was obtained by the Sun Sentinel

What to do after a hurricane

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It’s hurricane season, and as you may know, September is the month most frequented by named storms in the Atlantic. While you’re gathering up your perishable foods, batteries, and other precious supplies, we here at Cohen Law Group want to make sure you know the steps to take to file an insurance claim if the worst should happen to your home or property.

Here are seven easy steps to follow to help pick up the pieces after the storm:

1. Assess and Record. Once you know that your property has suffered damage, record what is damaged. Write it down and make a list, but also take pictures. You may never know when proof of damage can came in handy when disputing an insurance claim. Additionally, in the case of hurricanes when landfall is predictable, you should also take pictures of your property before the storm to use as comparisons should the need ever arise.

2. Ask Around. Once you’ve documented the damage, damage repair contractors recommend that homeowner’s gather three written proposals for the work from reputable storm repair contractors. The proposals should be written after the contractor performs the full property inspection, including the roof, windows, and AC units.

3. Inspect Your Policy. Read through your insurance policy thoroughly and directly contact your insurance company’s claims department. Offer them any pictures you took, in Step 1 as well as the estimates from Step 2.

4. Request an Inspection. When talking to the claims department, make sure to request that they send an adjuster to inspect the property. Insist that the adjuster inspect the property in the presence of your contractor. The contractor can help to counter any denial made by the adjuster. If the adjuster has an incentive to deny your claim, they will, so make sure the contractor is there to keep them playing fair.

5. Don’t Worry. It’s not the end of the world if your claim gets denied. Homeowner’s are entitled to meet with as many as three adjusters in adjusting their claim. Keep in mind that even if they deny a claim, any damage resulting from a storm covered by the homeowner’s insurance policy should be covered, no matter how small the amount.

6. Receive Payment. For an approved claim, the insurance company will send the you as the homeowner two separate checks. The first will be a materials deposit. The materials ordered by the contractor should be made out in your name, and the contractor should use the check to pay for materials.

7. Make Sure the Job is Satisfactory. The contractor will then do their work. If the contractor needs to make any changes to their original proposal, those changes should be approved by you, the homeowner. Once the contractor’s completed work passes a city inspection, it is up to the homeowner to approve the job, and the contractor will sign lien waiver. At that point, the work is considered complete and the claim closed,

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