How to Create the Perfect Password

Especially being this time of year, identity theft is an ongoing and growing concern that practically everyone has to face. According to cyber security experts at Generali Global Assistance, these are some of the best practices for creating passwords that help safeguard your identity online.

Don’t Be Obvious

Information such as birthdays and pets’ names makes it especially easy for hackers. Also, using “password” as your password is not strong enough as it is one of the most commonly used. Think of something unique that would not be guessed, even by someone who knows you personally.

Make It Long

According to The Guardian, security experts agree that a password should have a minimum of 12-14 characters. Richard Cassidy, technical director of cyber security company Alert Logic, explains that a 14-character password could take roughly 811 trillion guesses to figure it out! He states, “Length is the thing that gives you protection, not complexity.” Passwords with eight-digits can be cracked within hours, he explains.

Write Them Down On Paper

If one of your passwords is especially long and you feel you may not remember it, write it down on paper and put it somewhere safe in your home – storing on your computer makes it easier for someone to hack.

Use a Passphrase, not Password

Instead of just using one word, use a short sentence. For example, “Newspaper” could be cracked quickly, while “IReadTheNewspaper” would take significantly longer – up to two years to be exact!

Be Clever About Using ‘Special’ Characters

It is normal to exchange an “a” for an “@” or an “i” for a “1”, but hackers are absolutely aware that people do this, so it is important to refrain from using these common replacements, especially if you are using a one-word password.

The Worst Passwords

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. football
  8. 1234
  9. 1234567
  10. baseball

Contact an agent at Cochrane & Porter for any questions regarding your insurance – we would love to help! 781.943.1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com

5 Apps Recommended For All Drivers

147586779399140

Technology has become a huge part of almost everyone’s lives and with that, it’s many processes easier.  One of those is driving; whether it is a long road trip or running to the grocery store, there are several apps that can make your trip quicker, less stressful by avoiding traffic, and overall more fun. Here are a few of my favorites that help me out on a regular basis:

Waze

Waze is my favorite driving app, no doubt. While it has similar capabilities as other navigation and traffic apps, it differs because it works to outsmart traffic! Other drivers share real-time traffic and road information, which results in saving time and money for everyone.  You can map a drive ahead of time and let Waze know when you want to reach a specific destination, or let friends know your ETA. I highly recommend downloading this free app! According to an article by Techlicious, here are the 5 best navigation apps.

DriveSafe.ly

This is an app specifically for BlackBerry and Android – it reads your emails and texts out loud, and auto responds without users having to touch their phone at all. This app drastically decreases texting while driving and allows users to keep their hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road! Highly recommended.

Car Locator

Do you ever park your car, then spend 15 minutes trying to find it? This happens to just about everyone, especially when we are in a rush! As 1st place winner in Verizon’s Power App Content, this app allows you to save your location once you are parked, then when you are ready to go back to your car, Car Locator tells you where it is. Although it costs 3.99, it is definitely worth it especially if you are frequently losing your car!

GasBuddy

Who doesn’t want the cheapest gas? This incredibly helpful app shows you the 10 closest fuel stations along with their prices. Over time, using this can save you a significant amount of money. GasBuddy incorporates 110,000 fuel stations in its database – that is almost every single station in the United States! Highly recommend.

My Max Speed 2.0

Curious just how fast your kid is driving the car? Well, My Max Speed 2.0 logs speed and location every five minutes, monitoring your teen’s driving speed and habits. As a parent, you are able to preset a location perimiter – you can choose to be notified if the phone travels outside of it.

These are just some of the great apps you can use to make your traveling experience easier and quicker. View a full list of them.

For any of your insurance-related questions, contact an agent at Cochrane & Porter; we’d love to help. 781-943-1555 or send us an email at info@cochraneandporter.com. Safe travels!

4 Holiday Shopping Tips for Last Minute Shoppers

holiday-shopping
Can you believe yet another Christmas is practically here?! It is likely you still have presents to buy for friends and family, whether you are a procrastinator or someone who shops ahead of time. We all know that the closer we get to Christmas Eve, the more crowded malls are, and the emptier shelves become.  Here are a few recommendations for you last minute shoppers!

Create a gift list

tveubliosk

While this may seem obvious, making a list will help you brainstorm, prioritize your items, and help you plan your budget. Last minute shopping will often make you run around quicker than normal and create unnecessary stress. It will also help you from over spending or making unwise decisions.

Refrain from overbuying & overspending

 

money

 

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend roughly $655 this holiday season. If you are emotional shopping, chances are you’ll end up spending much more than you wanted to in the first place. It may be a good idea to use an app such as RetailMeNot or Giftagram, which alert you of discounts, coupons and other ways to save money. Be proactive about comparing deals, and wait for those bargains as well!

If you’re going to the mall, shop early in the day

 

mall

Many stores are open early and late during the weeks leading up to Christmas. If possible, try and go in the early hours because store staff will have had the opportunity to restock and organize shelves, which will make it much easier to find what you’re looking for. By late at night, many items have been picked over and shelves tend to be a mess. This will make it difficult for you to find the right gift in the proper amount of time.

Don’t downplay the value of gift cards

 

gift-and-tree

According to the Retail Gift Card Association, 71% of people feel “very satisfied” when they receive a gift card at Christmas, and out of those people, 69 percent say that will buy “something needed” and 30 percent will use the card to buy something they would not typically purchase.  We should not underestimate the value of a gift card!

Don’t let last minute shopping get in the way of your spirit this holiday season! You can prevent unwanted stress by planning ahead, organizing your finances and finding ways to save money. Remember to stay focused!

As always, do not hesitate to contact an agent at Cochrane & Porter for any of your insurance needs! 781-943-1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Together, we can help keep people safe on the road – every day.

 

december-is-national-impaired-driving-prevention-monthDecember is one of the busiest driving months, which naturally means it’s one of the most dangerous times to drive. Many of us are attending social events and parties that involve alcohol. Data from the National Highway Traffic Administration shows there is a significant increase in DUIs and fatal drunk-driving crashes around this time of year. That is why December has been named National Impaired Driving Prevention Month – to increase awareness about the dangers and consequences associated with driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs.

There are three forms of impaired driving: distracted driving, drugged driving, and drunk driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes each day. This is equivalent to one death every 53 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes is more than $44 billion!

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals explains, “Since 1981, every President of the United States has demonstrated the commitment to preventing impaired driving by proclaiming December as national Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month or more recently, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.”

President Obama states, “This month, let us continue empowering drivers to make responsible decisions and educating the American people on ways they can help keep our roads safe and our futures bright.” Read the full 2016 proclamation here

At Cochrane & Porter, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season, and urge all to remain sober while driving! As always, do not hesitate to contact us for any of your insurance needs.

Cochrane & Porter Insurance Agency
981 Worcester Street
Wellesley, MA 0482
781-943-1555
info@cochraneandporter.com

Gift Yourself These Insurance Coverages this Holiday Season

You may want to invest in these extra insurance coverages this season!

snowy-road

The holiday season tends to be busy – we want to spend as much time as possible with our families, but we also have to tend to our other obligations. This can result in significant amounts of stress! While you are making plans with your loved ones and making sure that your shopping list is finalized, make sure you spend some quality “me time” as this is essential for your overall health and well-being.

Here are a few insurance coverages that  may help to minimize your concerns this holiday season and beyond:

Identity Theft Protection

Online shopping is becoming more and more common and with that, cyber crime is on the rise. Make sure to protect yourself from this threat and only shop at reputable companies with secure websites.  If a site is questionable or seems odd, it’s a good idea to exit out of it right away. Try not to open any emails from an unknown person. Check out our Identity Theft Protection product!

Roadside Assistance & Rental Car Coverage

Rental care and roadside coverage come especially in handy during winter time if your car gets stuck in snow! For example, a curb is underneath a snow bank and you don’t see it, resulting in a flat tire. This coverage will help you with the tire so you can get back on the road! It is typically an add-on to your regular auto policy.

Trip Insurance

Especially if you plan on traveling this holiday season, it may be a good idea to invest in this insurance! It will cover you from unforeseen circumstances such as medical emergencies. It can also help protect you from financial loss associated with trip cancellation, medical expenses, or lost luggage.

Happy holidays from us at Cochrane & Porter – we hope you have an enjoyable and safe one! Give us a call at 781-943-1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com for any of your insurance needs.

Preparing Your Home For a New Puppy

New Puppy? Congrats! Make Sure Your Home Is Safe!

 

puppy

Many people would agree that getting a puppy is similar as having a new baby as far as the extra care and nurturing that it takes to successfully raise (or train!) them. Because puppies are so energetic and usually curious, it is super important to make sure that your home is safe for a puppy to be wandering around. Keep in mind that puppies are generally attracted to anything that tastes or smells intriguing – so just about anything!

We recommend being especially cautious of the following items around your home:

  • Trash and garbage cans. I remember the first day my brother left his puppy alone for a few hours; we came back to trash all over the kitchen floor! It was a nightmare.
  • Human food. Everyone knows dogs love “people” food! Puppies do even more. Puppies also love chocolate, which is extremely dangerous for them to eat. Other dangerous foods include coffee grounds, alcohol, onions, and grapes. If you plan on giving your puppy food other than treats or specific dog food, check with your veterinarian beforehand.
  • Cleaning products. Antifreeze can be lethal if consumed at all, and hazardous chemicals such as mothballs and mouse poison are particularly dangerous.
  • Electric cords. Puppies may assume these cords are chewy toys. Make sure to unplug them when they are not being used, and to keep them stored in a place where the pup cannot reach them.

So, you’re pretty sure that your puppy is safe in your home, but is your home safe from your puppy? Here are some tips:

  • Using a crate can help your new puppy because they usually do not soil in their own space. This will help keep your home clean as well as help train them. It’s important to purchase a crate that is large enough for the puppy to grow in, and they are comfortable. There should be enough room for them to stand and move around a bit.
  • Setting up gates around certain rooms – such as those with carpets – is helpful because it can be difficult to remove any stains from carpets. Also, it may be a good idea to confine your puppy to rooms that have easy-to-clean floors. However, it’s important your new canine also has plenty of space to move around!
  • Discuss with your vet safe ways to keep your new pup occupied while they are unattended.

These are just some of the many ways that you can ensure your new puppy, and your home, are safe throughout this exciting time! Congrats on the new member of your family.

As always, contact an agent at Cochrane & Porter for any of your insurance needs. 781-943-1555 or info@cochraneandporter.com

Protect Your Identity This Holiday Season

Our product serves as an alarm system for your identity 

credit-card

Throughout the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is so common to get caught up in shopping madness. It gets to the point we just want to get in and out of a store as quickly as possible, which often results in us spending more money than we plan to! However, while money is very important to us, there’s something else we need to stay mindful of…our identity.

Identity theft is a growing concern for everyone. According to The 2016 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, $15 billion was stolen from 13.1 million consumers in the United States in 2015, compared with the $16 billion and 12.7 million victims in 2014.  For only one year, that is a significant change!

How Victims’ Information Is Misused, 2015

Type of identity theft fraud Percent
Government documents or benefits fraud 49.2%
Credit card fraud 15.8
Phone or utilities fraud 9.9
Bank fraud (2) 5.9
Attempted identity theft 3.7
Loan fraud 3.5
Employment-related fraud 3.3
Other identity theft 19.2

Source: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel Network.

In 2015, New York had 24,157 identity theft complaints – the highest in the United States, by far. On the other hand, Vermont had the lowest at 525.

Make sure you are properly protected this holiday season with our Identity Theft Protection plan, which serves as an alarm system for your identity! Call us at 781-943-1555 to learn more, or anything else insurance-related!