Bill on Governor's Desk to Raise Minimum Car Insurance Coverage – Public News Service

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Consumer advocates are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a bill now on his desk that would raise the amount auto insurance companies must cover in the event of a crash.

The “Protect California Drivers Act” would raise the mandatory minimum amount of liability insurance to $30,000 for a single injury or death, $60,000 if more than one person is injured or killed, and $15,000 to cover property damage.

Craig Peters, president of Consumer Attorneys of California, said the bill would double the current rates, which only require coverage of $15,000, $30,000 and $5,000 respectively.

“Fifteen-thousand today will barely cover the cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital,” he said, “and $5,000 will barely fix a minor dent in a car.”

He noted that when the current rates were set, back in 1967, they were intended to cover the cost of a two-week hospital stay or the replacement of the vehicle. Since every California driver is required to have insurance that meets state standards, the law would protect victims of car crashes from incurring massive debt.

The bill’s few opponents, including some insurers, said it’s the wrong time to be raising the cost of coverage. However, Peters said the bill was the result of negotiations between consumer groups and insurance industry representatives, and called the changes long overdue.

“California has lagged behind every other state in the union,” he said. “This will actually put us back into the middle of the pack.”

Senate Bill 1107 already has passed both houses of the California Legislature. If it becomes law, the new limits would take effect in 2025. They’d also increase ten years later – to $50,000 or $100,000 for injuries or deaths, and $25,000 for property damage.

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As holiday shopping kicks into high gear, security experts are offering tips for avoiding efforts by scammers to separate people from their hard-earned money.

Carl Murphy, director of risk management for Colorado Credit Union, pointed to one increasingly common phishing scam, where fraudsters pose as a delivery representative from a trusted company via text or email to get people to hand over their credit card or other sensitive information.

“They’re posing as UPS and saying, ‘if you pay this $3 charge, we’ll deliver this package to you.’ People tend to not have an issue with paying $3, it’s a very small amount,” Murphy explained. “But once you provide your card information, they’re now using that card information to do much larger purchases.”

Murphy pointed out it is a good idea to review credit card, banking and other accounts, at least once a month. If you notice charges which could be fraudulent, file a dispute before protections expire, generally 60 days after your statement arrives.

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, visit StopFraudColorado.gov for steps to take. It’s also a good idea to file a police report, to start a paper trail.

To make it harder for fraudsters to crack account passwords using software which lets them zip through thousands of possible combinations, Murphy suggested making passwords longer. For example, instead of your dog’s name 123, make it SpotLovesTakingLongWalks123.

Consumers tend to be more exposed during internet transactions, and Murphy noted many credit cards offer settings where cards can only be used online when you decide to unlock it.

“Ever since chips came out on cards, it’s a little harder for fraudsters to clone your card and get away with fraud inside of stores,” Murphy stressed. “So instead, they are turning toward e-commerce fraud.”

Many Coloradans decide to help nonprofits and charities during end-of-year fundraising appeals. Murphy urged consumers to do their homework to ensure the organization is real and actually doing the work. As a general rule, Murphy added never provide any sensitive personal information on a call you did not initiate.

“One important tip is not to answer phone calls of phone numbers that you do not recognize,” Murphy outlined. “If it’s an important phone call, they will probably call a second time, or they will leave a voicemail. Or these days they will probably text you. Scammers tend to move on.”

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The state of Maryland has entered into multiple settlements with Experian over data breaches.

The Maryland Attorney General’s Office along with those in 39 other states announced two separate settlements with Experian and a subsidiary recently over the companies’ handling of personal information. Experian failed to notify customers regarding data breaches in 2010 and 2015.

As part of the settlement, Experian has paid penalties and agreed to improve its data handling and security.

Brian Frosh, Attorney General, said to ensure the new methods are effective, Experian will hire outside firms to audit its data practices.

“There will be monitors in place whom they will hire to look over their shoulders who will be looking at how they’re doing and what they’re doing,” Frosh explained.

Experian did not respond to our request for comment.

A few states have enacted comprehensive data privacy laws. Maryland’s Personal Information Protection Act is not comprehensive but has been strengthened since it was implemented in 2008. Now the law mandates data aggregators such as Experian notify customers about data breaches within 10 days of discovery.

When asked if Congress and state legislatures should enact more strict data protection and privacy laws, Frosh said yes, and pointed to biometric data.

“You can now get your DNA tested. It goes into a database somewhere. It may be sold to other entities,” Frosh outlined. “We think that should be included among the things that are protected within the scope of the personal information that people need to take special care of.”

The settlement requires Experian to offer affected consumers five years of free credit monitoring services. For more info on data privacy and security, in addition to other services for consumers, visit the Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit website.

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Iowa will collect more than $6 million from Google over the internet giant’s location-tracking practices.

The settlement is part of a multi-state, $390 million lawsuit.

The Iowa Attorney General’s office has seen an increase in consumer complaints related to online activity, and has devoted more resources to policing online practices.

The suit contends Google users were being tracked in multiple ways and without their knowledge.

Ashlee Kieler, communications specialist with the Iowa Attorney General’s office, said people didn’t know they had to turn off their location-sharing function in different places on their phone or laptop.

“Specifically it involved Google’s location history and then, the web and app activity,” said Kieler. “Location history is turned off if you are a Google user, automatically. However, the web and app activity, which is a separate account setting, is automatically turned on when you start your account.”

The suit, which was initiated by Maryland’s Attorney General, claims Google built detailed profiles of its customers, failed to alert them to the extent of the personal location information it collected, and did not tell them they were being tracked in multiple ways.

While Iowans who’ve used Google won’t receive personal restitution from this settlement, Kieler said the state will use its $6 million share of the settlement to bolster the AG’s Consumer Protection Division, which handles complaints and educates people about how technology and information can be used.

“Technology is a part of everyone’s life now,” said Kieler. “And it’s important that consumers understand when and how they’re being tracked, and to know what companies are doing with that information.”

The settlement requires Google to be more transparent about its tracking practices, and show additional information to users when they turn on a location-related account setting.

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