Living In A Digital World – Identity Theft Protection
Data security becomes more important each year. At least once a year we encourage our clients to ensure they are taking appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of identity theft and other issues related to loss of personal information. Below are a few quick items to review:
- Review Credit Report: We encourage you to review your credit report and that of your children’s, annually, to catch any reporting errors or fraudulent activities. For your free annual credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228. A more comprehensive report (as well as your credit score) is available for a fee at myFico.
- Protect/Check Email: One of the most common issues today is hackers breaking into personal email accounts. If they gain access, they will be able to steal personal information as well as send emails posing as you. You should keep a close eye on any outbound email, change your passwords regularly, and don’t allow others to access your email. It is also a good idea to use your business email when possible instead of personal email when possible as business email typically has more safeguards in place.
- ID Theft Monitoring Service: If you haven’t already, you should consider adding a voluntary benefit that monitors its customers' credit report for any changes. This is an important step to make sure there are no unauthorized changes. Ask your PPI Account Manager about our preferred identity protection partner, InfoArmor.
- Change Passwords Regularly: It makes sense to update all your passwords every few months.
- Review Statements: Make sure you are regularly reviewing all transactions for all accounts. This is one of the most important ways to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions.
- Beware of Phishing: Phishing is a technique used by identity thieves to get your sensitive information by pretending to be a site you trust. You should be suspicious of any incoming phone call or email that asks you to provide any confidential email, especially if the request is for username and passwords, account numbers, or social security numbers.
Have you included your digital assets, such as photos and music, in your estate plan? Those of us with extensive collections should consider adding these items to your Wills and Trusts to ensure our intended beneficiaries have access to the necessary online credentials.
User IDs And Password
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of User IDs and Passwords required in our day-to-day lives and the importance of keeping these items secure. You should consider using a Password Manager App like DashLane, 1Password, or LastPass. These applications can generate and keep track of all your passwords in one secure, easy-to-access place. You can also use these types of applications to securely store other important data such as secret question answers, credit card numbers, and addresses.
Stop on a Dime: The Limits of Driver Assist
In recent years, the way we know automobiles has been revolutionized. It started with the shift from gasoline-powered engines to electric vehicles from manufacturers like Tesla, Nissan, BMW, Toyota and Mercedes — and that list continues to grow. With the push for autonomous vehicles, it’s clear we’re on the fast track to futuristic transportation.
That said, autonomous driving technology is new and nowhere close to perfect. Dash-cam footage from the March collision in Tempe, Arizona, shows a distracted driver relying too heavily on Uber’s imperfect autonomous vehicle technology, leading to a death. This accident is a clear warning against unwary adoption of new tech. Many new vehicles have semi-autonomous features installed, such as electronic driver assist systems, automatic braking if the car detects another vehicle within a certain proximity, preventing lane drifting and so forth.
This technology is impressive, and can literally be a life-saver when used properly. That said, it’s vital that you still pay attention to the road. Without an attentive driver, these features quickly become a liability. One Virginia-based institute has taken a closer look at the technology and how it performs. Based on their reports, it’s clear that though these features may seem convenient, they should be considered more like emergency technology and not take the place of full attention and developed driving skills.
The Car Facts
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently issued a paper titled “Reality Check” after testing five of the electronic driver assist systems in Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo. These systems could certainly save someone’s life, but the systems aren’t perfect and can fail under many circumstances.
The tests were performed on both a track and public roads. The Institute stated that the most concerning system was in Tesla Model S and Model 3. Specifically, the use of only automated braking without adaptive cruise control was found to be more dangerous than the two working together. While driving at 31 miles per hour, researchers tested the vehicle’s system with adaptive cruise control turned off but kept the automatic braking on. Both Tesla models braked when they sensed a balloon on the track. The simulated accident was less dangerous with automatic braking on, but ultimately the car still would have caused damage in a similar real-world instance. However, these were the only two that failed to stop in time while testing on the track, and once they turned the adaptive cruise control back on the Teslas braked earlier to avoid the balloon.
This system could certainly take over control for a usually thoughtful driver who freezes up at a critical moment, but isn’t effective at replacing a skilled driver.
Another test addressed potential accidents with stopped vehicles. The Institute found that when testing on the road, all vehicles except the Tesla Model 3 failed to detect a stopped vehicle that was ahead of them and didn’t respond. Regarding lane drift prevention technology, the IIHS found that many of the systems were inaccurate, especially on curves or hills. The BMW, Model S and Volvo regularly steered toward or across the lane line. This, again, can be prevented by driver intervention. Seemingly, lane assist could help prevent crashes over cliffs, but drivers shouldn’t rely on it as they might bowling-lane bumpers.
Ultimately, these features will help to reduce accidents, but only when used by a competent driver. The best way to prevent accidents is still to drive carefully. The tried-and-true advice remains the same. Don’t drive while distracted, tired or drunk. Keep your eyes on the road. Check your mirrors. Don’t speed. Keep a safe follow distance.
At the end of the day, technology can help guard against the unexpected — but it can’t make you a better driver.
If you have any questions about safe driving practices or want to double check your auto coverage, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your local NFP risk consultant.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Health Venture: What Does It Mean for the Employee Benefits Industry?
What matters most to people and companies that provide employee benefits? Your employees, your customers and your companies’ continued growth and success. It’s the job of the advisor to listen to client needs, provide the best solutions available on the market and consider new models that employers and health care delivery systems can leverage.
The newly announced joint health venture by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan (ABJ) can only help these goals. Under the leadership of ABJ’s new CEO, Atul Gawande, the venture’s top minds and money will be focused on possible solutions.
But what is this venture, what is its goal, and why does it matter?Learn More
Paid Time Off Legislation: What’s Trending?
In recent years, a growing number of states and municipalities have enacted mandatory paid time off (PTO) and paid family leave laws. One objective of these laws is to enable all employees to achieve better work-life-family balance. More importantly, these laws are intended to correct the disparity between PTO benefits that employers historically have provided to full-time employees and the lack of similar benefits historically provided to part-time and seasonal employees.
By mandating that companies provide paid leave for part-time and seasonal employees, millions of lower-income earners have become eligible for PTO — many of them for the first time since joining the workforce.
You may wonder how the new laws might impact your business and budgets. HR practitioners are working to navigate this new, complex (and sometimes conflicting) legal and compliance landscape, and we at PPI have created a partial summary. The basic changes are expanded sick time policies and new paid family policies.
Mandatory Paid Sick Time
Several states have passed mandatory paid sick time laws in the past few years. You may initially assume that your business is exempt from these regulations, either because your companies’ headquarters are in another state or because you already provide generous paid sick time plans for full-time employees. However, all employers should pay careful attention to the new regulations.
For example, while a company may be headquartered in Florida (a state without mandatory paid sick time laws), employees working from home in California or from the company’s satellite office in Massachusetts are covered by mandatory paid sick time regulations in those states.
In addition, many states with paid sick leave laws mandate that employers accrue time for employees based on the number of hours worked, regardless of whether they are classified as full-time, part-time or seasonal employees. Because many employers currently don’t provide paid leave to part-time or seasonal employees, companies will need to thoroughly review the regulations and update policies and accrual schedules to cover previously excluded groups of workers.
Similarly, a number of state regulations require that employers provide “safe leave” — time off to tend to medical, emotional, financial and legal issues resulting from domestic violence or sexual abuse of either the employee or a covered family member. Companies in states and municipalities with safe leave laws should update their time off policies to comply with new regulations.
In states/municipalities with mandatory paid sick time, employee notification and records retention requirements also add an additional administrative burden for employers and HR professionals.
Mandatory Paid Family Leave
Paid family leave legislation is also on the rise. In 2018 alone, four additional states have adopted paid family leave laws, joining several other states that had passed such legislation in prior years. Typically, these programs operate similarly to state-funded employee disability programs.
To finance paid family leave in the states that mandate it, employers either pay premiums based on their total payroll or make small employee deductions, which they remit to the state. Eligible employees who need a qualifying paid family leave may then apply to the state’s program for temporary income replacement (usually a percentage of pay, based on the state average weekly wage).
Generally, mandatory paid family leave covers time off for the same qualifying events as those covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), except for the employee’s own serious health condition, which is covered by state disability rather than family leave. To ease the challenges associated with simultaneously administering two or more types of leave, employer policies should clearly communicate that any state- or locally-mandated paid family leave will run concurrently with FMLA leave, where applicable.
To add yet another layer of complexity, employers and HR professionals must coordinate both state- and locally-mandated paid time off programs with:
- Federal laws, including FMLA, ADA, USERRA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
- Company policies, which must address the interaction between and overlap among various types of leaves
- Benefits, including short-term disability insurance, long-term disability insurance and group benefits continuation
As momentum and public support for mandatory paid time off programs continue to grow, it’s likely that more states and municipalities will pass similar legislation. Employers and HR practitioners should keep a watchful eye on proposed and new legislation in their states and local areas, so that they can be prepared to review and adjust current paid time off programs and policies.
This material was created by PPI Benefit Solutions to provide accurate and reliable information on the subjects covered but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. It is not intended to provide specific legal, tax or other professional advice. The service of an appropriate professional should be sought regarding your individual situation. PPI does not offer tax or legal advice. "PPI®" is a service mark of Professional Pensions, Inc., a subsidiary of NFP Corp. (NFP). All rights reserved.