Using Your Home Security System To Keep Your Car & Garage Safe

If you think your things inside the garage are safe on their own, think again. According to former burglars, it doesn’t really take much to get a garage door to open. All one needs is a coat hanger and 6 seconds, and everything is ripe for the picking, including your car.

This is particularly true if you don’t have any security system installed. Plus, because your garage is connected to your home, it can be a vulnerable point of entry. Thus, when considering getting one set up for your house, combining home security with vehicle safety should be a priority.

Here’s how you can combine home and car security to make it a safer place for you and the family.

  1. Make your security cameras visible.

Place security cameras at all points of entry and at strategic locations around your property, including the garage. Make sure the cameras are visible to outsiders or place a sign that the area is monitored by CCTVs. With these deterrents in place, burglars are less likely to attempt entry, much more even try to lurk around your home and “study” it.

Position the cameras facing the garage or the driveway, facing the yard, infront of the main door, and more. By being upfront with your security system, you are sending outsiders a message that your home is not something they should mess with. Burglars will also see it as a tough target and won’t bother to try anything. If your security system provides a real-time feed to your work computer or your smartphone, it’s all the more powerful. You can be alerted of any unauthorized entry and even identify who these people are before they leaves the premises.

  1. Integrate a smart garage

Thanks to technology, homeowners now have peace of mind knowing that their houses are safe from intruders. By introducing a smart garage to your general home security system, you can protect your parked vehicle and all the garage’s contents from theft by closing the door when you leave and forget to do it yourself. Even if you are home, open garages are like a welcome banner to burglars to come and pick what they want. It’s not rare to forget to close the door especially if you’re always in a rush. Automating your garage’s security system to align with the rest of your home reduces the problems associated with forgetting.

With a smart garage, you can open and close your garage using your smartphone or tablet on command. It will also shut itself automatically if you left it open for a pre-set period. Most timers are easy to install on the garage door, or you can call a professional to get it done. You don’t have to be late for your appointment by going back to the house because you forgot to shut the door.

  1. Make sure you get those vulnerable spots

Dark places like small alleyways, windows or side doors often get neglected and are favorite among thieves. Burglars know that most homeowners focus on front doors and other main points of entry, so they take advantage of those narrow corners and blind spots, including your garage. By integrating smart lights with image sensor technology, you place light in those low-visibility areas, plus save on energy costs by getting rid of the need to leave your side door lights the entire night.

You can also avoid false alarms by setting your smart lights to turn on and off at predetermined times you know you will be out of the house, at work, or sleeping.

  1. Install motion detector lights

Having lights shining on your garage or other points of entry all the time can wreak havoc on your electricity bill, not to mention highlight the fact that nobody is home to turn it off. What you can do is upgrade your lights to have motion detectors, so that they will instantly turn on the moment they sense any movement.

Most motion detection systems are sensitive to moving objects and body temperature, so even if a cat passes by, the lights turn on automatically. This technology is supported by infrared waves that can sense warm objects. When it activates, the light stays for a pre-set period of time and then shuts off unless any movement is detected.

  1. Your garage remote should never be left in the car

Don’t give thieves easy access to your vehicle and your house by taking the remote with you. You might lose it outside or, worse, burglars could get it out of your car at the mall parking lot, follow you home, and then plot their entry eventually. Even if your vehicle is just at the garage where you can see it, never make it avialable for somebody else to take.

What you can do is get a keychain remote in place of the larger remote so it becomes more handy. Most home improvement shops carry this item. If not, you can always go back to where you had your automatic garage door done to see if they have a smaller version. Or, just make sure that it’s in your bag at all times.

The garage is often the place where you store your power tools, construction supplies and other items that might assist burglars in further ransacking your home. By making sure that no outsider gets easy access to it, you get peace of mind knowing that you are safe and protected from potential break-ins. Additionally, an open garage with a car that’s unlocked and with keys on the ignition is an invitation not just to steal your vehicle but also to enter your home.

By setting up your home security system to protect not just your house but also your car and the space around your premises, you reduce the chance of being targeted. A security system that covers all possible spots in your perimeter is a loud message to would-be burglars to stay away and not try anything with you.

The Worst Places To Hide Your Valuables At Home

In a perfect world, none of us would have any reason to hide our jewelry and just have them laid out on the dresser for easy access. However, these are challenging times and it has never been a perfect world, so we are compelled to make sure the things that are important to us stay hidden or else they get misplaced or stolen. In fact, keeping our jewelry, money, bank documents and like out of sight is necessary. That said, we should also take absolute care in choosing where they are hidden and how.

We’ve seen too many of these on TV and movies. Money is hidden in canisters inside cupboards, jewelries are hidden under the bed or in an ordinary looking shoebox in the closet, the flower pot in the living room is used to hold keys to restricted doors in the home. All of these are just too common and popular that they are just the worst places to hide yours.

Security experts note that there are areas in your home that are just horrible for hiding things. Here are five places you should avoid.

  1. Your clothes drawer

One of the most common places to hide your valuables is your clothes drawer, particularly that slot where you store your undergarments. Why this area? First, people think that because their underwear drawer is often in a state of disarray, it can effectively hide that pouch where their jewelry are kept. Second, they think that nobody would bother rummaging through all that underwear. But, that’s where they are wrong.

Burglars know too well that we hide important stuff in areas that “look” messed up. Underwear drawers are also too common that burglars already know it’s the second place they look into after the dresser. In short, keep your important items away from your undergarments and find somewhere less predictable to hide them.

  1. The side table

We’ve seen this many time in movies. Jewelries, travel IDs, electronics, important documents, and even handguns are kept at the side table next to your bed. The psychology behind choosing this location is that it is just right next to you while you sleep, so you can easily check up on them the moment you wake up or in the middle of night when you’re feeling suspicious.

However, everybody looks into your side table for anything that’s important. If you walk into another person’s home and try to find something, chances are, the bedside table is one of the first places where you’ll look.

  1. The toilet tank

This is actually a genius idea. Who would ever think of checking that tank, right? No thanks to movies and crime TV shows, now everybody knows that this spot makes a great place to hide valuables. Ever watched that scene where people wrap their valuables in ziplock bags and place them in the tank to prevent them from getting wet? Your burglar has seen those, too. Don’t even try that trick where you tape the ziplock bag or pouch UNDER the tank. That’s already been popularized, as well.

  1. Under the mattress

Most beds have either two layers of mattresses or have a one big mattress resting on top of a sturdy frame. That seemingly innocent space in between is a popular choice for safekeeping valuables and important documents. While it feels like the best place to hide expensive items because you’re sleeping on top of them, remember that burglars enter your home when you’re not home. That makes that space easily accessible and very much open for browsing.

  1. A safe that’s easy to carry

So you got yourself a small safe or vault where you can place all your documents, money, and trinkets. While you might think that nobody can possibly get through because they don’t have your access code, burglars can just easily carry the entire thing out and then find a way to destroy it to open.

When you’ve got a small safe, what you can do is make sure that it’s bolted to the floor so that it can’t be hauled out. Also, just do invest in a safe that’s too heavy even for three people to carry. Most burglars do not work on their own have backups and spotters they can easily call to help handle the load. Do not make it easy for them to drag your stuff out.

So Where Should I Hide My Valuables?

The best place to make sure that your important items are safe is to keep them in a safety deposit box in the bank. Keeping too many jewelry and a lot of cash at home is not just impractical, it’s also makes you an easy target for a burglary. Even if the thief has absolutely no idea that you have these in your house, it will be fiesta the moment he or she happens upon your stuff. Not only will the burglar take everything, but you are likely going to be a repeat target if you don’t update your safekeeping habits.

If you must keep your valuables at home, invest in a very heavy and bolted down safe. Sure, they’re large and inconvenient to bring into your home, but that’s the whole point. If it cannot be moved by multiple people, then you’ve succeeded in making sure that team of 2 or 3 burglars won’t be able to get access to it. Of course, they can always bring crowbars to pry it open, so invest in a heavy duty safe that’s resistant to force.

Overall, if you do keep valuables in the home, you can install a security system to ensure that all possible points of entry are locked and attempts to break in are curtailed. If you and the family are not home, having security cameras and motion sensors — and making sure people from the outside know about these — are a great deterrent against people who would want to target your home.

Scouting For A Home Security System Provider? 5 Things You Should Ask

There is no doubt that every home in the US needs a home security system installed. Nowadays, it’s not really enough that you live in a so-called “good” neighborhood. Burglars will strike anywhere and will target anybody. If you are in the habit of forgetting to secure your doors and entry points, you will require automated technology to ensure your and your family’s safety.

You can go the DIY route and install these gadgets yourself. However, that can be quite challenging, because what happens when a burglar does sound off your alarm, right? Sometimes, it would be smarter to partner with a professional service to ensure your peace of mind. After all, your safety is not something you can put a price tag on.

If you are looking for a company that would take care of everything, from the assessement, to the installation process, to the after-hours monitoring and emergency response, there are important questions that you need to ask before signing a contract.

For one, what type of home security system are you looking for? Basic setups are those that sound off an alarm if any part of your house has been forcibly opened, depending on where the sensors are installed. Some of these standard provisions even send a notification to your smartphone if there’s any attempt to break in. That’s the simple version.

More high-tech options include glass-break sensors, motion detectors, lighting and temperature sensors, fire and hazardous gas alarms, and panic buttons. Other fancy gadgets even allow you to control your security equipment remotely using an app that you download to your phone. Indeed, it is an exciting time to live in when it comes to the types of technology that are available for households. Straight out of a sci-fi movie, now you can have peace of mind knowing that your house is safe regardless if your home or miles away from it.

In the process of hiring the right home security company to help make this happen, what questions should you ask? Here are the five most important.

  1. How much does it cost for the equipment and installation?

The extent of your home security system is largely dependent on how much you are willing to spend. Each company will offer different packages at different rates. When comparing offers, make sure to check what each of them cover in their quote and if there are any caveats. Because they are businesspeople, most likely they will highlight the best sides of their services, so don’t hesitate to ask about the ifs and buts.

Once you have decided on a pricing package that you are comfortable with, find out about the terms and frequency of payment. Will you be paying for a whole year’s coverage upfront, or is it a monthly obligation? Will there be any extra services or features that you will be asked to pay? How about security deposits and advanced payments? The price of the package might be enough for you to handle, but the service might have a few other add-ons you are not ready for, so it’s smart to ask before signing anything.

  1. Are the equipment already yours?

There are home security companies that charge you just for the service and the system they will use is just on lease to you through the duration of the contract. Others will have you stay a client for a minimum lock-in period for the tech to be considered yours. Clear this up with your provider so you know your and their limitations. In the end, go for the company that gives you ownership of entire system installed in your home and provides monitoring services as an add-on. You should be in control of the system because you own it. It’s your house, after all.

  1. Are the people installing the system part of the company or are they independent contractors?

It matters a lot who will install your home security system. You should go for the service that’s powered by its own set of technicians. Those that hire third-party contractors may offer great services, but they can’t possibly guarantee the conduct of the individuals they hire. Meanwhile, if the installers come from their own staff, you can find out about their hiring and vetting process, so you have peace of mind knowing that the guys installing your security equipment are reliable and trustworthy.

  1. How often will the system and maintenance checks be done? Are these free?

Your home security company should be constantly updating your setup with the latest software or at least checking its integrity and effectiveness from time to time to make sure nothing’s out of place. No one ever knows when a burglary attempt can strike, so your provider should make sure that your home is always ready. Some equipment are able to auto-test and send reports remotedly to their base center, as well. Ideally, auto-testing should be done weekly.

  1. What is the provider’s reputation in the industry?

This is a question that you should ask those who have already worked with them before. You can run a search online to find out what former clients have to say about their service. You can also get in touch with existing and long-time customers about their opinions and if they are happy with the service.

During your search, you will be seeing both large companies and small service providers who will offer the same services. Don’t always go for the big company at first look. Sometimes, the smaller ones will have more time to spend monitoring your system and that’s what you really want for your home. On the other hand, the large providers will have more tech and resources at their disposable, which is also a good thing for your security.

Overall, just as you would choose which hotel to stay in or which restaurant to eat in, scour the Internet and make some phone calls to research on your prospective provider before making any decision. The best gauge of their service are past and present clients who will be able to tell you if the company is really good for its word and will not shortchange you.

Living In An Apartment? How To Keep Your Home Safe & Burglar Resistant

Apartment life may have single dwellers and families living in convenience relative to those who own a single detached home (who have to take care of a yard) but that doesn’t mean they are safer when it comes to potential break-ins. Home security systems are equally as important for apartment renters.

In fact, latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals that renters are more exposed to burglaries for the very reason that apartments usually have high foot traffic given the number of people living in one building. It’s also difficult to identify who does and does not belong there. Even in so-called “good” neighborhoods, burglaries can happen.

However, most home security systems are designed for single homes and do not usually have the needs of apartment users in mind. Thus, shopping for the right security package for this type of accommodation can be a bit tricky. If you are living in an apartment and there is no agreed form of security in your building, you will do well to have your own system for your unit installed. If the building administration does have the technology in place, it’s likely covering just the common areas and does not include your actual home.

Here are some tips to make your unit protected from break-ins.

  1. Lock your doors.

This is the simplest, easiest, but most neglected tip among apartment dwellers. Just because there’s a reception desk downstairs and you know who the people next door are, it doesn’t mean that you should be confident about not locking up — even when you’re home. This seems like a no-brainer, but most reported robberies happen because of this opportunity. Lock your doors. Lock your windows. Also install blinds and keep them down or sheer curtains, so that nobody from outside (or the other building) attempts to snoop around and scout for possible victims.

  1. Don’t show off your stuff.

You never really know who goes in and out of your building all the time — or who’s watching. So if you do get a new piece of nifty technology or a new fancy appliance, don’t show it off. It’s tempting to brag, but doing so will only make you a target of theft. Keep it low key and don’t attract attention by flashing your stuff around.

  1. Know your neighbors.

We know you’re always busy, and probably not very sociable, but it pays to find out who your neighbors are and develop rapport with them. By being familiar with the people who share the same space as you, you all will be alerted if something is out of the ordinary. Being friends with neighbors also creates a protective sense of community and people will pay attention and act if something’s not normal.

  1. Don’t announce everything you’re doing.

Don’t announce on social media that you’re about to go on vacation. Don’t tell everyone in the neighborhood, as well. Avoid posting your whereabouts at all time. Most burglars use the Internet to find out who’s at home and who’s not. Announcing your trip plans to everyone in the building also makes you susceptible to break-ins. You never really know who’s listening.

Home Security System For Your Apartment

Because you’re just renting the space, you probably are not allowed to drill into your walls and make major changes to the wiring. Thus, a wireless security system is your best and safest choice. It’s also cheaper than the full-scale setup. In addition to being easy to install (you can actually get it done yourself), they are also considered more reliable because there are no wires to cut. If you do decide to move out, you can also easily dismount your wireless security system and take it with you to your home.

Thanks to technology, you don’t really need to be genius to install a home security system. In most cases, the box already comes with step-by-step instructions to do so. Plus, there’s always the Internet to refer to if you can’t understand something. To make things extra easy, though, you can always still have a professional do it for you. So all you need to do is sit back, relax, and watch your home from your phone while you’re away.

These security systems for apartments can include smart door and window locks, door security cameras and smart doorbells, and security bars. If you live in a pretty spacious apartment, you can also have indoor surveillance cameras installed all over the house, except your bedroom, so you can see if there’s somebody lurking around while you’re already resting. Again, don’t forget to lock your bedroom door.

Are You Living In A Safe Community?

One way to ensure your and your home’s safety is to check out the neighborhood’s history before you even decide to move in. You can always search online for news reports about your area — if it’s prone to burglaries or not. Scout the area during the day and the night to find out what it looks like from outside and the kind of atmosphere it has. You can also ask around and talk to some residents to find out how they’re liking the complex you’re considering.

If possible, rent an apartment that is located within a secure compound, like a gated entrance, the presence of security personnel at the main points of entry, and an automated, tenants-only system of entry. The stricter the apartment complex is with identifying who comes and goes into the area, the better it is for your peace of mind. How do people get access into the building? Do they have exclusive swipe cards or recognition systems? Can visitors instantly go up or do they have to call you to enter? These things are what you should look for when choosing a rented space. If you already have a pretty secure neighborhood, then you will only need a minimal home security system for your apartment. Again, don’t forget to lock the doors.

5 Common Entry Points In Your Home & How To Secure Them

It’s hard to think that even in “good” neighborhoods, homes are susceptible to break-ins; but it actually happens. In fact, there mere fact that people who live in such “secure” environments are too confident to even think of setting up a security system or even bother to lock the door behind them makes them an easy target. Robbers know where the weak points of a neighborhood are and will stop at nothing to try to get in. It doesn’t matter who you are. If your door is open, they will at some point try to enter and take something.

If a burglar is looking to enter your home, it might be easier for him or her to enter than you think. There are certain points of entry that are obvious, like the front door or the window, but there are also often-neglected but surprisingly easy access points that they can use to break in.

Here are 5 of the most common entry points that burglars use to get into their victims’ homes. You can double check if these are true to your house, just to make sure you and your family are safe.

  1. The Front Door

You might not think that a thief would have the guts to walk through the front door, but this is very much happening. Statistics show that a whopping 34 percent of home break-ins start with front door entry. And this is not surprising, actually. Most of us neglect to lock the door behind us when we enter or place the spare key in common hiding places (under the flower pot, under the welcome mat, on the moulding above the door, and more). Most of the time, burglars don’t even have your keys but can still open your door by kicking it down, dislodging the hinges, breaking your knob and so on.

What can you do? Note that knob locks and key locks are easy to open with a credit card or by expert picking. To be sure, install deadbolt locks as reinforcement when you’re in the house. If you do use knob locks, make sure that your door frame covers that space where a credit card can be inserted to make it difficult for burglars to pry it open using this method. Installing a strong strike plate also makes it stronger against kick-ins. Better yet, install a security camera that points to your front door, plus an alarm system that alerts you when there’s an attempt to open your door.

  1. Sliding Doors

Similar to unsecured traditional doors, sliding doors that open to the deck, the garden, or anywhere else in your home is a vulnerable point of entry. These doors are often neglected and left unlocked because they’re not “open” like normal doors and they are probably not used often. Burglars know of this weak point so they this is one of the favorite access points. Even if not smashed, such doors can be lifted off their tracks with some tools and skilled maneuvering.

What can you do? Install heavy rods on the tracks to make it difficult to pry open, or have a professional further reinforce your frames and doors with screws and other mechanisms to keep them secure. Glass doors also huge windows into the rest of your house. Make sure you have blinds or curtains or anything that would shield the view from the outside so nobody gets tempted to break in. Installing an alarm for the door or when somebody tries to break the glass is also sufficient.

  1. Ground Floor Windows

This doesn’t just refer to your living room or kitchen windows, but also to those often-forgotten ones that lead to the basement. Glass windows can be easily broken by throwing rocks or other heavy objects. These areas are possibly the weakest points of your house and burglars know too well to take advantage of this. They’re also the second place thieves check if the doors don’t open.

What can you do? Use reinforced glass, which are relatively difficult to break. Polycarbonates and plexiglass are as thick as the regular glass but are a lot stronger and more resistant to impact. You can also install grills or iron window bars on your windows, so that even if they do succeed at breaking the glass, surely they can’t get through steel.

  1. Doggy Doors

You’ve seen this in movie. Burglars can and will try to enter the house through the dog doors. Home security experts advise against putting one on your door for obvious reasons. However, if you really must have one for your pet, try to make it as small as possible — or just enough for your pet to enter. It should also be positioned as far as possible from the lock so burglars can’t try to reach from there.

Another thing you could install is special tech that only opens the dog door when it senses your pet’s special collar. Not only does this help prevent burglars from entering that door, but also succeeds in keeping stray animals out.

  1. Window ACs

Because ACs are commonly installed through a hole in the wall, burglars often use this point of entry. Just because there’s a machine covering that area doesn’t mean it’s secure. One person can actually just dismount the AC from its place and enter through there. To prevent that from happen, you can install a bracket on the outside to secure the opening and to also provide additional support for your AC. You can also install a sensor alarm in this area, just to be doubly sure. Keep in mind that burglars are mostly pros so they know where to enter and how to take advantage of weak spots.

Give your home a perimeter and external check all around to make sure that all potential points of entry are secure and have been addressed with reinforcements. This proactive approach will deter thieves from even attempting something. Overall, just make sure that you always lock the doors and windows so you don’t become a victim.

5 Ways To Prevent Identity Theft And Guard Your Credit

Credit has been a viable means of gauging a person’s financial standing since time immemorial. When the 2017 Equifax data breach threatened the financial industry, the value of having good credit become all the more important. In fact, without it, you cannot get a loan, buy a car, purchase a home, and many more. Loan officers will definitely check your credit background before approving any of your applications. This is why ensuring that your credit score is high is crucial.

 

When the Equifax breach revealed that many consumers’ private data had been exposed and made public, people had become more wary about the possible threats. As many as 14.5 million were affected by the hack, with their private information and supposedly secure credit histories laid out in the open for anybody to exploit. This leads us to the question: If something like this happens to you, how to ensure that your credit is safe and your details don’t get stolen?

 

Fixing your credit report errors is a long and painful process. In fact, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau even admits that its investigation and repair processes need to be updated and fixed, as well. With the time and effort it takes to go through the usual channels, many consumers just decide to correct the mistakes themselves to protect their financial integrity.

 

When an error shows up on your credit report, it can’t be taken out by simply telling investigators that it’s a mistake. It requires a long process that can take months, sometimes years. However, there are things that you can do to make sure that the major issues are addressed before the problem escalates. Here are 5 ways you can monitor your credit, ensure that your private information stays concealed, and improve your credit score.

 

  1. Be proactive and check your own report immediately.

 

The moment the 2017 Equifax breach happened, consumers were advised to check their credit reports right away to spot any discrepancies. You can visit the official Annual Credit Report website to file a request and see if your credit report had been exposed to anything suspicious in the past months. You can avail of one credit report every 12 months for free from either TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. There’s no other site to check because Annual Credit Report is the only one with permission granted by Federal law.

 

  1. Freeze your credit.

 

There’s no quick and immediate way of knowing the extent of the Equifax hack. In fact, investigators say that it might take years for the financial sector to feel its full effect. Setting up a credit freeze is one way to protect your credit report from outside threats. By “freezing” your credit report, you make it difficult for hackers and other third parties to access your data and open up new accounts using your name and details. Credit investigators will also not be able to access your report unless the freeze has been lifted.

 

However, if you want to take out a loan or line of credit in the future, you will need to have the freeze lifted. Contact any of the three agencies to make a request, which could cost you a small fee. Otherwise, a freeze may stay on for up to seven years, depending on which state you filed them. Some areas will allow a freeze on your report for as long as you don’t lift it.

 

  1. Deal with questionable accounts right away

 

Do not ignore disputed accounts and think the errors will go away on their own. Face the issue head on and correct what needs to be changed immediately. If you see something on your report that’s amiss, contact the creditor of that account, as well as any of the three agencies to dispute the information and have it removed from your report. Be careful not to pay the disputed amounts because that will create a negative impression on your credit score.

 

  1. Alert the authorites of fraud

 

If you don’t want to freeze your credit, you can file a dispute by setting up a fraud alert. This is usually done for a period of 90 days, depending on your state’s policies. You can also use it as backup protection when you decide to temporarily lift the credit freeze because you want to apply for a loan to buy a house. Having a fraud alert linked to your report will compel creditors to search you up first and verify your identity before they approve anything under your name.

 

Thankfully, applying for a fraud alert with TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian is pretty much straightforward. All you need to do is provide proof of your identity and file a request with any of the three. It will then notify the other two so that the alert is extended widely. An expanded fraud alert can go for as long as seven years.

 

  1. Monitor your bank statements and make sure bills are paid.

 

Bills are easy to overlook but they are the foundation of your financial health. Make sure you pay them on time. By checking your credit card and bank statements regularly, at least once a month, you can watch out for the early signs of potential fraud. Also, by committing to pay bills on time, you can shield your credit report from any negative impression. Take note that around 35 percent of your credit score is taken up by your payment history and ability to meet deadlines on time.

 

Good credit is very important because it allows us to enjoy life’s pleasures and comforts. Access to financial resources not only opens up opportunities for a better life, it also widens the net to include our families’ quality of living. This is why we should never take our credit standing for granted. When something like a hack threatens our report, we should make aggressive efforts to correct them and make sure that our ability to obtain a comfortable means of living is not hurdled by these errors. More importantly, we should always be vigilant and protective about our personal information, so none of this happens in the first place.

DIY Home Security Systems: How To Protect Your Home On A $200 Budget

Installing a home security system doesn’t have to take up a huge chunk of your household budget. Whether you’re a seasoned DIYer or a new to this project, there are plenty of ways to secure your home at a price you are comfortable with.

 

In the past, having a system set up in your house was considered ambitious and expensive. But, thanks to technological evolutions that have made devices more user-friendly, there exist simpler ways to feel more at peace in your own space. And no, you won’t need to watch dozens of how-to videos on YouTube or deal with complicated instructionals to succeed. DIY home security projects these days are pretty much straightfoward that even novices can get them done.

 

But, before we look into these tried and tested ways, let’s first look at home a home security systems works and what elements are most important.

 

Understanding How A Home Security System Works

 

What makes up a home security system? Let’s first understand what makes each part important before you get to the actual DIY assembly process. To achieve the best type of security system for your home, you need to find the right balance between the technology that is available and how much you can spend. At the barest minimum, you will need a device that is wireless, multi-functioning, and flexible enough to accommodate future expansion when your budget allows.

 

Most basic smart security systems are composed of a control hub, entryway sensors, security cameras, motion detectors, alarms or sirens, yard signs or stickers, monitoring services, key forbs, and an integrated app on your smartphone.

 

The control hub serves as the command center for your entire setup. It is what receives signals from the different components and is the source of status updates. Without the control hub, your home security system will be crippled. General motions sensors alert the system to any suspicious movements in and outside your home, depending on where they are positioned. Door and window sensors also alert you of any attempt to enter your home, either via breakage or vibration.

 

Security cameras provide the visual confirmation you need to feel safer at home or at your business. By having eyes on all possible points of entry at all times, you can sleep better or enjoy your vacation with greater peace of mind. There are certain downloadable apps that can be linked to your home security system so can watch your home even if you’re miles away at any time of the day. You can also program your alarm or siren to go off at your instruction in case you see someone approaching, just to scare him or her away before anything happens. If you’re not looking, having a motion detector in place will set the noise off.

 

Creating Your Home Security System With A $200 Budget

 

You can always go for a $100 ceiling budget but that won’t likely get you far in terms of having smart system installed. However, this amount can already get you a good security camera, motion sensor and some yard signs and stickers you can place at the front yard to tell people that a security system is in place.

 

However, if you want to have a reliable smart home security system in place, you might as well prepare $200. Smart hubs act as the brain that monitors and controls the network of wireless devices that you have connected to it. It can even accommodate connections with automated home appliances such as thermostats, lights, and even coffee machines and smart locks.

 

For around $90, you can already get the Samsung SmartThings Hub. You can reinforce this with the SmartThings door multi-purpose sensor, which costs about $35, and the Samsung motion sensor, which goes at around $36. You can complete the set with an indoor security camera like the Zmodo Wireless, which retails for around $39. These are pretty much the basic elements you need for a smart home security system. Each of these devices will have a set of instructions for assembly. Better yet, get them as a package so you only need to know how things connect.

 

The fancier devices cost much more, with the stylish abode Connected Home Security and Automation Starter Kit retailing for about $500. But let’s get to that when you’re ready to enhance your system and splurge a little more.

 

DIYing Home Security

 

Of course, to successfully install a home security system, you must first ensure that the devices you are using are compatible with each other. This is the whole point of having a smart hub and a centralized security setup. Choosing sensors, alarms and cameras that use the same communication protocols is crucial to achieve a fully integrated and working package — even if the entire thing is just under $200.

 

Setting up an affordable package on your own is fine. It’s actually quite a challenge to do so. But while you might start out with monitoring your own home yourself, it is still the wisest to eventually employ a professional service to watch your home. Knowing about a break-in is one thing, but responding to it is another.  While monitoring your own home lets you decide whether to respond to the threat or not, this can be potentially dangerous. You can always call the authorities to head over to your home, but in times of surprise, panic could set in and you might jump into the situation yourself.  The delay in the response time by the police can also lead to property damage or loss.

 

This is especially true if you own a business or have a lot of valuables in your premises. If there are things that need to be doubly protected, or if you are worried about your and your family’s safety, spending on a more solid security setup will not feel like a burden at all. The sense of security and confidence that you can sleep soundly at night without worrying about being burgled or attacked is priceless.

Home Automation 101: Understanding Smart Home Technology

This is the day and age of the smart home. What once was thought of to be just a fad is now a standard in every US household, where each home owns at least one smart device. In fact, according to Parks Associates, a market research firm that specializes in emerging consumer tech products and services, broadband adoption reached 84 percent of American homes in 2016 and, by 2020, 50 percent of households in North America will already be classified as smart homes.

While that sounds like a realistic prediction, consumers at present are still apprehensive and bit confused with the technology. Because home automation is just starting to enter the mainstream, most people view it as an unnecessary luxury and something that is difficult to master. In fact, many households still do not understand what a smart home is and how things work.

So, let’s make things easy and the information digestible. Technology is all around us and, whether we like or not, it is something that we should adapt to or else we get left behind. Smart devices, after all, promise to help make our daily living easier — and that’s not something we can easily turn our backs on. Truth be told, transforming into a smart home is really easy.

Smart Home Defined

There is no one definition to encompass “smart technology” as a whole. Generally speaking, a smart home is one that is equipped with automated devices and technology that is able to control regular household systems, such as lighting, security cameras, temperature, cooking and more.

There are plenty of benefits to having a smart home. In addition to convenience, it can help you save on energy expenses and boost your sense of security. Smart devices can also be operated remotely using apps on your mobile device or laptop. Some even speak like humans and respond to voice commands, like Alexa and Siri. Other fancier tech can have smart home devices communicate with each other via a pre-set network, such as the one set up with ZigBee and Wave.

Getting Started On Automating Your Home

Let’s embrace home automation and appreciate it for all the convenience and security it offers us. However, the search for the right one for beginner users can be quite a challenging task. If you’re not tech-savvy, it’s best to start with the basic devices that are relatively user-friendly and highly intuitive, so you won’t need to keep adjusting and monitoring them. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the simple gadgets, you can then advanced to more technical ones.

We’ve come up with a five-step process to getting familiar with smart home devices and finding which ones best fit your household.

  1. Are you tech savvy?

Some smart home gadgets are more technically advanced than others. If you’re just getting familiar with the tech and are not really into tinkering with gadgets, stick to the beginner-level models.

  1. What’s your budget?

The price range for smart home devices go from affordable at less than $100 to very expensive. Before going on a device hunt, decide how much you want to spend.

  1. What are your needs?

Every household’s needs is unique, so that gadget that your aunt tells you is a dream might not work well for you. When choosing a gadget, take note of your lifestyle. For example, if you’re at home most of the time, you might benefit from having a smart doorbell that will allow you to see who’s at the door without having to open it. If you’re always out, a good security system that lets you view your house in real time through your smart phone will give you peace of mind.

One nifty device we’ve seen is the Nest Learning Thermostat, which sets your home temperature based on your preferred settings for a set period. When there’s nobody home, this gadget detects the empty space and turns itself down automatically, thus helping you save on electricity expenses. It also works with Google Home and Alexa.

  1. Do your research.

Don’t just buy because you saw on TV that’s it’s the “best” or your next door neighbor swears by it. Conduct your own research on the product thoroughly and be sure you understand how it works. A device won’t do you any good if you don’t fully comprehend its benefits.

The Internet is a gold mine for information on so many of these devices. You can check our manufacturers’ websites, product reviews from forums and reputable review sites, and ask not just one but at least three people you know who have tried it. Feedback is important for somebody who’s just starting to appreciate the benefits of a smart home.

  1. Maximize your device.

By fully understanding how your smart home device works, you get to maximize all the conveniences that it can offer; thus, getting value for your investment and more.

For example, you have a smart lock that allows you to lock and unlock your door from afar using just your phone; but did you know that it could also send e-keys to selected guests and see who accessed your door recently? You might also have a smart plug that turns your appliances into smart devices by timing their operation, like when lights are turned off and when your morning coffee starts brewing; but did you know that it can also make your home look like somebody’s inside even when you’re away?

There are so many kinds of smart home products in the market, so it’s easy to be overwhelmed and get carried away with buying so many things. Each one of them is so impressive that you’ll be tempted to get them all. If you’re a beginner to the concept of having a smart home, we recommend starting with the basics and starting slow. Begin with one or two gadgets that you can easily operate and then slowly move up as you and the family get comfortable having these things around. Before you know it, you’re living in the 2020 prediction of having a smart home at just 2018.

How To Protect Your Home? Outsmart The Burglar

Homes often get broken in because people are too confident that what happens to persons in the news or in movies will never happen to them. Burglaries are often portrayed as dramatic, sometimes comedic, that many don’t take the threat seriously.

However, it is this nonchalance that makes one the perfect target for thievery. And, often, that person or persons who will be entering your home or place of business is someone who has been there at least once. It could be “surveyor” who was supposedly required by law to have a look at possible fire or earthquake threats around your house, or the cable guy whom you welcomed into your home for an emergency fix. It could be a stranger or someone you know. Thus, you must take precaution.

What Do Burglars Look For In A Target?

Your daily behavior and schedule, appearance of your front yard or garage can tell unscrupulous individuals a lot about the potential treasures you are hiding in your home. What you consider a simple element of your facade might be seen as a welcome sign for burglars to exploit a weakness.

Is your landscaping pretty? Do you keep beautiful rare plants out front? Do you have a lavish fence or a fancy lawn sprinkler system? These signal to burglars that you have the money to spend on a pretty front yard. Having tall hedges and shrubs, as well as life-size decor, can also be a way for would-be thieves to hide while casing your house, or while waiting for you to leave. Any spot that will allow them be under the radar is a welcome sign.

Do you often leave your windows open? Can people from outside see what items you have kept in your home? Windows offer a clear view of your valuables and your activities while inside the house. It also gives them an idea where you are, what security systems you have in place, or if you have a pet that could hamper their entry and escape.

Finally, where do you place your trash? While not exactly the most favored method, burglars will have a good sense of your financial status by looking at your trash. Did you just purchase a new standing AC and left the box whole along with the trash. Then you just told the interested burglar what you purchased, plus offered him a nice hiding place to scan your premises.

Are You Being Targeted?

You already know what burglars look for when deciding which house to target. Could it be you? Here are some tips on identifying potential burglars or predicting a possible break-in.

  1. Strange people or cars suddenly show up.

You’ve been in this neighborhood long enough and probably know everybody in the street. When you see pedestrians or strange vehicles suddenly hanging out at your vicinity, it’s a sign to be alert. Watch out for people who seem to be loitering without a specific reason. Don’t hesitate to dial that non-emergency police number if you think something’s amiss. It’s better to be suspicious than to find out later that you’ve been targeted.

  1. Know where things are in your home and be mindful of the small changes.

Always be observant about your home’s layout and keep track of where things are. A small change in the arrangement could be indicative of a possible burglary. Thieves often mark their targets to find out if anybody’s home and then change it up later as reminder that it’s that house that they need to get back to.

These “marks” include a strange paint mark on the fence, a missing item on the front porch, or a seemingly random item that keeps being left on the yard. This is part of what thieves call “house drafting,” which happens with a burglar placing an item at the front of the target home. If the item moves, that means you’re home. If it doesn’t, then that’s the time they break in.

  1. Strange work offers and drop-ins

Did you suddenly get a visit from the local “inspector” who needs to see if your walls are earthquake proof or to check if your gas range is working properly? That could be a burglar looking to survey your interiors to plot ways to get in, take a visual inventory of your belongings, and plot a way out. This “visit” will also give them an idea what types of people live in the house. So the next time someone stops by and offers to work on your home or conduct a free demo of new equipment, be on high alert. Better yet, don’t let strangers in, please.

Tips To Prevent Burglaries

The best defense is a good offense, as the saying goes. While you can’t predict if your home is going to be burgled, there are several ways to prevent this problem from happening to you.

  1. Install a home security system

Having reliable technology set up around possible points of entry around your house is one step towards gaining peace of mind. There are nifty devices that can detect the slightest movement at night, while there are those that allow you to monitor what’s going on in your premises through your smartphone — and in real time. There are systems that you can install outdoors, while others can be placed indoors.

  1. Meet with your neighbors to create a neighborhood watch system

Resident-run surveillance is a great way to prevent crime in your entire area. This program not only unites the community but also sends off a signal to would-be thieves not to try anything funny in your neighborhood. By meeting regulary and updating each other of new constructions and other potential threats, you can keep each others’ homes safe. Having multiple eyes on the watch means a narrower chance for burglars to succeed, if they even still have the courage to try at all.

  1. Don’t make announcements online.

Thieves are less likely to target a home if there’s somebody in it. Thus, even if you’re out of the house, you can make it look like somebody’s inside. There are smart home devices that you can control using your phone even if you’re miles away. It can turns lights and off or control some appliances to work at certain times.

More importantly, if you’re going on a vacation, don’t announe it on social media. That’s just tantamount to an invitation for burglars that your home is ripe and ready for picking. Even if you think only your friends can see your posts, you never really know who’s monitoring and watching you.

  1. Get a pet.

This is good if you’re pet person, because a dog will definitely be on high alert for any movement when you’re not home. A thief will have second thoughts about trying to break into your home when he or she knows a pet is guarding it. If you don’t have a dog or can’t have pets, you might be able to get away with a “beware of dog” sign on your front yard.

  1. Close your blinds and lock your windows and doors.

This is a simple practice that often gets taken for granted. If your doors are locked, even during the day, then nobody’s going to try to enter your home. An unlocked point of entry is a welcome sign to burglars. Another thing you can try is installing motion sensors at entryways to alert you instantly if someone tries to get in.

Online Shopping & Cybersecurity: 10 Ways To Protect Yourself

The Internet has definitely made being a consumer a much easier thing to be these days. The age of online shopping has created a fast and simple way to purchase items or send them to family and friends without having to get dressed and step out of your home.

 

With the convenience it offers, it can be very tempting to go on a shopping spree and click “buy” on everything you see. However, while there are no pickpockets online, there can still be people who are out to take your personal and financial information. To help protect you from these unscrupulous individuals, we’ve prepared a list of tips to keep your sensitive info out of strangers’ hands.

 

  1. Watch out for email scams

Email scammers know no time and season to send out malware and viruses, often hiding behind a “gift” or a “special offer.” If you don’t know the person sending you the email or got mail from a site you haven’t visited, don’t open any link. Even if you do know the person sending and there’s no note about what the link is for, be extra extra cautious and ask the sender what the link is about before clicking it.

Some of the most popular email scams include those are supposedly from your bank saying there’s a problem with your account or that you need to update your information. If this happens, it’s smartest to call your bank and verify if such an email has been sent. Never enter your account details and respond to the email without verification from an authorized person.

 

  1. Say no to clicking links

It’s not just the sneaky email messages. Links also often come via a “prize won,” a special deal or any similar win. Watch out for bonuses and free gifts that require you to first click a link. If you’re really tempted by the lovely offer, Googling it will tell you if it’s legit or not. You can also find out if anybody else has had this offered to them.

 

  1. Only transact with reputable and secure websites

Don’t waste your time and energy shopping on online stores with questionable backgrounds. Make sure that the site is secure. The simplest way to do this is to check the URL and look for “https” at the beginning. A missing “s” means the website is not encrypted — thus, you are not protected. All legitimate online stores will have “https,” no exceptions.

 

  1. Update your security software

One of the easiest steps toward securing your sensitive information is by making sure your software is updated. Every now and then, companies release updates that you can download in just seconds or minutes containing improved security measures against cyberattacks. It will be a bit inconvenient to wait for the update to finish, but that’s nothing compared to the mountain of potential problems you’ll have if you don’t get it done. So, the next time your computer prompts you to do a software update, just go ahead and click it.

 

  1. Change or strengthen your password

This is, perhaps, one of the most repeated pieces of advice against cyberattacks. But, sadly, people often take this for granted. We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a unique password. If you use the same one for multiple sites, that’s okay. We understand how annoying it is to keep different passwords, but do take the time to change them periodically. To make your accounts virtually hack-proof, you can use password generators which can create random combinations.

 

  1. Don’t make your information public

As a rule, anything that you post on a public network is free for all. When you’re on a public Wi-Fi network, such as a coffee shop, library, restaurant, don’t use that network to log into your online banking account or Paypal. If your laptop or mobile device is directly connected to these sites, make sure that you have logged out of each of them before you enter any public Wi-Fi network.

 

  1. Be protective of your personal information

Never ever take photos of your IDs, tickets, forms and other documents that contain your information and then post it online. Sure, you’re excited about your newly-issued visa, but you’re only creating a massive security breach when you show it off to friends on social media.

 

  1. Be wary about shopping apps

Apps are an easy and very convenient way to shop, but they can also be goldmine for hackers to obtain private information. Make it a habit to question the legitimacy of the apps you are offered and download only from reputable sources like the Android Market or Apple App Store. If the app asks for your private information before you can access it, find something else. Also, do pay close attention to the permissions that come with click “I Agree.” Apps should not be asking for access to your contacts and notes. Be mindful of suspicious activity and check out app reviews first before downloading.

 

  1. Don’t use your debit card

Stick to using credit cards or payment services like Paypal when shoppping online. Debit cards are all right, in essence, but note that they are directly connected to your bank account, thus placing you at a much higher risk if your information is hacked. Credit cards offer less liability and greater protection in case of a cyberattack.

 

  1. Don’t give others an opportunity to hack you

Never give more information that what is needed. Some websites will ask you to make a wish list or fill out a form to complete your purchase. If it says “optional” on the field, then there’s no need to type your details in. The more information the Internet has about you, the most exposed you are to potential bad guys. Finally, don’t take the “privacy policy” for granted. Take the time to read the site’s terms and conditions and find out if they will be sharing your information, where and how, before agreeing to anything.