Internet Security 101: 10 Things You Should Never, Ever Post Online

Networking via social media is one of the newest and most popular ways of interacting with people around the globe. About 35 percent of adults have accounts with at least one social networking website and there are those who have multiple accounts on different platforms. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 89 percent use these sites to catch up and communicate with friends, 57 percent do so to set plans with friends, and 49% to meet new people.

 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Instagram are just some of the top networking sites that connect people around the world. Sometimes we become too excited to share our thoughts, feelings, and important events. It has become a habit for us to share details about our daily lives. But when do we set a limit on what we share about our selves, our families, and friends?

 

In the same Pew Research Center study, about 40 percent of users have public access to their online profiles, which allows anyone to view all their information posted. The 60 percent have limited access. Sharing your personal information online can be dangerous because there are certain things that should never be announced. Here are 10 things that you should include on your “never share” list.

 

  1. Your Full Date of Birth. While it is a great feeling to be showered with lots of birthday wishes posted on your Facebook page, posting your complete date of birth on your profile can make it easier for identity thieves and online scammers to get one of the most important information about you. Your birth date might be used to steal your identity and open accounts under your name.

 

  1. Your Location. Many people may not realize that when you post a tweet or a status update, you can also reveal your current location. Sharing where you are exactly can be risky because it signals to potential thieves that you are not home. This also covers your photos and “check-ins” that have been geotagged. Geotagging reveals the location of a photo that you just posted. Your phone may record the location of the pictures without your knowledge. Make sure to check the privacy settings of your profile because that innocent post from your getaway might give the thieves an idea to rob your house because you’re not home.

 

  1. Pictures of your kids or your friend’s kids tagged with their names. Now, this topic can be very sensitive. For users who don’t restrict their profile, the photos you share on social networking sites are there for the public to see. The sad thing is there are a lot of online predators who use these sites to stalk their prey. To ensure your children’s safety, you can opt to share these photos with a selected group only like your family, trusted friends, and co-workers.

 

  1. Your complete home address. Again, you never know who might be lurking at your profile. Don’t share this information because it will make it easier for people with bad intentions to get to you. By sharing your address, you are doing identity thieves a favor by giving them the information they can use to impersonate you and take out loans and purchase items under your name.

 

  1. Your phone number. Yes, you might consider publishing this on your profile, so your friends can contact you. However, imagine if your phone number goes into the wrong hands. It is possible that your location can be tracked using a reverse lookup tool which is readily available on the Internet. If you really want your friends to know your contact number, you can contact them directly or send them a private message instead of posting it on your public profile.

 

  1. Relationship status. Posting your status in your profile can signal your stalkers, especially when you post stuff that you’re alone at home, etc. You can be mysterious, instead, and just put “It’s Complicated” or don’t include anything about your lovelife, at all.

 

  1. Private Conversations. Most social media sites have a feature where you can send personal or private messages. Personal matters should never be shared on your Facebook Timeline. The same goes for taking a screenshot of your exchange. This is part of your social networking etiquette. There’s really no official guideline for these things but you can be the best judge. If it’s something that you find uncomfortable sharing, then you shouldn’t post it on your wall.

 

  1. Social Plans or travel plans. You shouldn’t be sharing this information because this again signals to criminals that you won’t be home, giving them an opportunity to rob your house. While it can be nice and fun to share your vacation photos as they happen, you can wait until you’re back home to upload your vacation photos, instead. Also, sharing your social plans can pose some security issues. What if a jealous ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend knows that you’re out on a date and would suddenly show up and cause a scene?

 

  1. Embarrassing things that you don’t want to be shared with anyone. This is where the saying “think before you click” applies. Before you post anything, think: would I want my family, friends or co-workers to see this? If not, then don’t post it.

 

  1. Information about your job or work-related projects. Talking about work-related stuff online is not a good idea. Even if it’s just an innocent status about how frustrated you are about a project can provide information to your competitors and use it as a leverage against your company or business. Any information about your company’s plans for a project or anything at all should be kept private.

 

Always keep in mind that not everything that happens in your life ought to be shared online. Posting personal and confidential information can put your life, your families’ or your friends’ lives at risk. While it is fun to share about what’s going on, it is best to choose and limit what you post. Better yet, secure your privacy settings so that everything you post will be viewable only by a select number of people – but even THAT isn’t totally foolproof. We should know when to draw the line. It is better to be safe than be sorry.

March Is Fraud Prevention Month: 10 Ways To Protect Yourself From Scammers

It’s an unfortunate fact that many people still get victimized by thieving crooks. These fraudsters often integrate old tricks and new technology to entice people to send personal information or their hard-earned cash.

You’ll never know when they’ll strike, but chances are you’ve already had a fair share of questionable posts on social media, fake online ads, ambiguous phone calls, and fraudulent emails. You got lucky if you’ve avoided one or two of these scammers, but don’t get too comfortable. Learn how to outsmart scammers using these ten tips below.

  1. Avoid Money Transfers

Unless you’re sure of the person’s identity, let’s say you’ve made arrangements with a family member or a close friend, don’t wire cash. Electronic transfers are really convenient but don’t go on sending money to people without confirming who they are first. Additionally, don’t send partial refunds from “secret shopper” or “overpayment” checks.

  1. Don’t be a Serial “Clicker”

You know those links in your inbox that don’t seem to have a purpose but demand you click them anyway? Do not click them.

Unsolicited links are a dime a dozen on social media these days, and sadly, a friend of yours might have “sent” it to you. Never trust the sender even if you know him/her personally. If you must click, confirm if it was intentional. While you’re waiting for a response, simply ignore the link.

  1. Get a Security Software

Anti-virus software has its uses, but it’s better to choose products that offer internet security, preferably ones that integrate with your current browser.

Make sure that your software is working properly by keeping it updated, so it automatically informs you of malware. When you receive a warning indicating that your device is infected, check the source. If it doesn’t come from the software you installed, ignore it. This might be a phishing scheme and could be the reason why you got your personal information exposed.

  1. Beware of Charity Scams

Money collectors aren’t confined to doorsteps anymore — they’re online as well. What’s worse is that not all of them are legit; some use charities to siphon money from you.

If you want to donate, do so personally, or give the charity or non-profit organization a call to confirm if the panhandler or collector is one of their own. If you spot collection boxes in stores, confirm if it’s genuine first before dropping cash in it. You don’t want your money wasted, do you?

  1. Allow Yourself to Think

Don’t be hasty when making decisions, no matter how enticing the offer is, or how persuasive an offer seems. Often, sales reps will insist you purchase something on the spot to acquire a discount but don’t fall for these tricks.

Remember that a genuine offer from a salesperson will give you time to think before you make a purchase. Although, there are those limited-time offers that pop up once in a while. If you’re really so into a product or service, confirm first. Don’t stress about it. It takes seconds to get a company’s contact information, so choose to spend time confirming the offer rather than falling into regrets later on.

  1. Take Care of Your Personal Info

Legitimate companies never ask for sensitive information unless you initiated it. Come to think of it; even online banking services don’t ask for your PIN upon logging in — you have an entirely different password. For online purchases, use established services like PayPal, debit or prepaid cards, or one-off credit card numbers. Also, check the address line for an “https.” If a website is without an “s,” avoid it.

  1. Avoid Buying from People You Don’t Know or Whose Credibility isn’t Verified

This one is a bit tricky, considering most transactions happen online these days. But it’s an undeniable fact that there a lot of questionable websites and online sellers. Good thing you can do a quick credibility check — simple Google search ought to do the job. Better yet, trust bigger sites whose names have been trusted for years now.

Should you choose lesser known sites, always seek references and get feedback from people who have bought from them.

  1. Avoid Paying for Something That Offers You Earning Opportunities

If you’re one of those people who prefer to seek job opportunities online, don’t spend money upfront. Your goal is to earn cash, so paying for it simply defeats the purpose. It’s not like you’re trying to invest in a business, wherein you’re expected to have a capital. Money-making opportunities online hire workers that they pay, not the other way around. Legit online work doesn’t ask you to pay for training supplies or kits. That’s just sketchy.

  1. Don’t Believe in Something Without Verification

Or don’t believe that someone is who they say they are unless you know them personally. You might receive a phone call or an email asking to visit your house, maybe to introduce you to a new product or do maintenance check-ups. Confirm their identity first before agreeing to the visitation.

Always ask for an identification card or any proof that they represent a legit company or important person. If they arrive at your doorstep without warning, don’t let them in. Remember that visitations from a company do a follow-up first, or a confirmation that you agree to see any of their representatives. They don’t just appear out of nowhere. This should be your first red flag.

  1. Always Ask What the Catch is

Offers too good to be true shouldn’t really exist. After all, everybody wants to earn, and they all have a motive. You might spot a bargain that’s hard to resist, but these offers are often bogus and cannot be trusted.

An exception, though, is if you know the seller well. A legit offer always has a catch. Do not be afraid to ask what this is. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Fraudsters are getting increasingly sophisticated and smarter in their attempts to get your personal information and money. It wouldn’t hurt to be extra vigilant instead of feeling sorry in the end.

6 Basic Emergency Procedures Everyone In Your Family Should Know

Anybody can be in an emergency situation and the latter can happen at the most unexpected times. This is why it is important for you and the rest of your family to know the basic procedures to handle some of the most common incidents. Knowledge of first aid and how to administer them can save a life. However, in the US, statistics show that as much as 70 percent of Americans do not know what to do in case something does happen.

Are you and your family ready? Let’s have a look at some of the most common emergency situations and what you can do to address each one immediately. Take note that while these procedures are recommended and necessary, the more important thing you should do before performing any of these is to call 911 first or ask somebody to call an ambulance while you get started. With that established, here are six procedures that everybody should know.

  1. Perform CPR


This is one of the first things that come to mind when it comes to “life-saving skills.” Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a technique that could make a huge difference to a person who is suffering cardiac arrest. It’s better to get training from a licensed emergency services specialist and practice the moves beforehand, so that when the time comes that your skill is needed, you are ready. Even just watching a one-minute video about CPR can already help make you better at thir procedure.

 

  1. Help someone who is choking

The Heimlich maneuver is the most popular way of relieving a person who cannot breathe due to a blockage in the airway. Some restaurants post illustrations and photos demonstrating how to do this procedure because choking happens while one is excitedly eating. However, not every place has these guides available. This is why you and your family should know what to do.

Note that before performing the Heimlich maneuver, you should first strike five blows to the person’s back using the heel of your hand to dislodge the food or object that’s blocking the air passage. If that doesn’t work, that’s the time you do the signature abdominal thrusts. Choking not only happens to people who are eating. It can also happen in children and infants who are prone to putting random stuff in their mouths. There are different techniques for adults and children, so train your family to do both.

 

  1. Burn

For minor burns, you can immediately address the problem by running the affected area under cool water for at least 10 minutes. Then, get a moist towel to help further cool the skin. Do not put ice, or anything else on the burnt area and simply cleanse it with mild soap and water. For the pain, the person can take meds to manage it. Just make sure that he or she is not allergic to these drugs, or else you end up with a bigger problem.

Simple burns do not require dressings, as well, and just need to be aired out. Just make sure that open wounds are not contaminated so you don’t escalate the problem. Of course, if it’s a major burn, you must call for medical help right away or rush to the nearest hospital to be treated by a professional.

 

  1. Bleeding

Bleeding can come in different forms, ranging from a simple scrape to the dangerous arterial type. In any case, the goal is to stop the bleeding ASAP and prevent further loss of blood. To address a bleeding issue, wash your hands and put on gloves (or a clean plastic bag) first to avoid contaminating the area. Elevate the site of the bleeding and remove any obvious debris and dirt from the wound. If there’s a large object embedded, do not touch it and just wait for medical professionals to handle it.

Apply pressure on the bleed site with a bandage or clean cloth for at least 20 minutes. During this period, do not open the cloth to check if it has stopped. Just wait until the time has passed before looking. If the bleeding doesn’t stop and there’s arterial damage, apply pressue on the artery itself and squeeze it against the bone, while ensure that your hand continous to apply pressure on the wound itself.

  1. Heart attack

Because a heart attack is life threatening, knowing how to spot signs of an impending attack and how to deal with it when it does happen is crucial. Signs includes dizziness, pain in the neck, shoulder or arm, chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea/vomiting, among others. When you spot someone with these telltale signs, immediately call 911 or have someone do so. You can offer aspirin if available because it can help reduce the damage, then perform CPR when the person loses consciousness. Do this until emergency service arrive and takes over.

  1. Carrying someone bigger than you

There might be times when there’s another person hurt and only you can help bring him or her to safety. If that person if heavier than you or you are not that strong, you can still lift him or her without hurting yourself while doing it. What you can do is take the person’s arm and pull it over your shoulder. Then while crouching down or kneeling, have his or her middle part rest on your shoulder to hang. Thrust upwards using your hips and legs. Do not lean forward as this can cause injury on your back. You can practice this technique with children or small people first, just so you get the hang of it.

Hopefully, you or your family will not be in a situation that requires knowledge of emergency procedures. However, arming your loved ones with these skills makes you better prepared to handle them when they do happen. In addition, practicing these procedures as a family or a team can help bring you closer together because it’s a wonderful way to bond.

7 Ways Your Social Media Account Is Putting Your Safety At Risk

Social media has changed the way we interact with friends and family. In fact, it seems it has helped bring people together by allowing us a peek into their daily lives and special moments. However, our accounts have also made us more vulnerable to people who want nothing but to cause trouble. While social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube play a significant part in our lives, they have also exposed us to security threats.

There are hundreds of millions of Internet users all over the world. And while these tools are great for keeping tabs on people we care about, they also attract those who want to know us for the wrong reasons. It’s not just on a personal level. With more businesses opening up accounts and using these as advertising platforms, the connections made via Likes and Comments on public spaces can open doors for criminals. Some click-bait schemes are even posing as “legitimate” pages to get information out of unknowing individuals.

Here are seven threats to security we should watch out for when using social media.

    1. Who Viewed Your FB Profile?

This scheme is clever because it preys on your natural curiosity. This usually appears as a message posted on your friend’s wall via accidental spamming or through ads. The moment you click on this, spammers gain access to your account and the people on your network. Even if you see this sent by your friends, don’t fall for any link unless you get verification that it’s legitimate — but this one certainly isn’t.

  1. Instant Twitter Followers

Avoid tweets that offer to give you “instant followers” by clicking a link. While a large following will lend more credibility to your online image, especially if you’re a business, a simple one-time authorization can lead to an attack on your entire profile. Scammers know exactly what you need online and they will exercise all means possible to get you attracted and clicking away. This is one such scheme that is so tempting, but know that it can and WILL compromise your security.

 

 

 

 

  1. The Facebook Color Changer

Apps that promise to get you out of that boring blue Facebook profile and turn it into a rainbow complete with “confetti” are a scam. Clicking this offer will lead you to phishing sites where you are asked to either enter your information, share the same “fun” app with your friends, or watch a video (while its bots creep into your account). This can also affect mobile devices, so be wary.

 

 

 

  1. “Shocking,” “Outrageous” and “NSFW” Video Scams

We all love controversy and almost any post with these labels are certainly intriguing enough to click. Don’t. This popular bait method is a favorite among cyber attackers and scammers. They present outlandish titles that promise explicit content to get attention and sometimes even controls your account to create a “viral” frenzy. When you click it, you will be led to fake websites or random surveys that ask you to enter information. Take note this can ruin both your social media account and your computer.

  1. Naked Video Scams

Similar to number 4, this preys on one’s curiosity. But, more importantly, it is an invasion of privacy. This scam poses as an “interesting”

video but all it leads you to, really, is a fake site that will plant malware on your system. It will usually say that your Flash player crashed so you can’t view the video and will need to “update.” Now that you’re wiser, stay as far away as possible from these things. They usually contain a Trojan virus.

 

  1. The “Just Saw This Photo Of You” Scam

the general content of this type of scam. This “invasion” on your personal space preys on one’s paranoia so you will feel compelled to click. Again, DON’T. It will hijack your account and spam your followers, making YOU the purveyor of the scam. Reportedly, this malicious post also installs spyware on your computer.

  1. Bogus Pinterest pins

Normally, people wouldn’t think Pinterest would be a target for hackers, but cybercriminals really know no platform and prey on everything. Users will be asked to click on fake pins that eventually ask them to answer “surveys” or lead them to phishing websites. These bogus pins usually come in the form of promotions, contests, or freebies that seem to come from legitimate brands. But, a closer look at the account will reveal one or two letters off. Once you click, this malicious code gets downloaded to your system and start spamming your network.

Protecting Yourself On Social Media

Of course, while these scams are easily avoided, one major issue about one’s security on social media is forgetting to change your settings to “Private” and oversharing information. Make sure that only your friends see your updates and posts. Sift through your Friends or Followers list to see if there’s an account you don’t know or have accidentally friended people you’re not really familiar with. Avoid updating your account with your whereabouts every time you move so criminals won’t know where you are or are not alerted that nobody’s home.

When it comes to your security on social media, majority rests upon you being extra careful and vigilant. Our social networks are a fun way to update friends and family, but if you’re not watchful, you could also be giving criminals the same sensitive information. Check the URLs carefully and make sure no letter is out of place, see that the address starts with https:// to indicate it’s encrypted, or run it against a link scanner first before opening it.

Five things you should never, ever share online are your 1) financial information, 2) full address and date of birth, 3) your children’s names and school details, 4) your social security, license, and credit card numbers, and 5) your daily schedule. Knowing what threats make you the most vulnerable and protect yourself.

How Elderly Homeowners Can Protect Themselves From Con Artists

Fraudsters and con artists prey on vulnerable people on the assumption that they are easier to trick into a scam. Elderly family members are a favorite target. Most senior citizens either have their own homes, have a “nest egg,” and/or have stellar credit, making them all the more attractive to criminals.

Rip-off artists go door-to-door to take advantage of this situation by usually claiming they are salespeople who want to perform a demo of their product or a contractor who needs to “check” the integrity of the home’s structure. In some cases, unknowing seniors are manipulated into writing checks up front for certain “products” or “services” or handing cash over. However, as soon as the money is given, they flee and are never heard from again.

High Rate Of Crime, But Only A Few Reported

It is despicable; yet, it happens in the US all the time. This is because seniors are less likely to report being defrauded. Why? Either they don’t know where to file a report and how to do it, are too ashamed that they were scammed or, worse, are still not aware of what happened to them. Some purposely hide the incident for fear that family members will think they do not have the mental capacity to take care of themselves or their finances.

According to the FBI, seniors also tend to make poor witnesses to a crime. Fraudsters are aware that age affects memory quality and will be counting on this weakness so investigators will see a dead end. Victims might also not be aware that they are being conned and will continue to meet up and send money to the tricksters. Some only realize after so many months, or when their finances have been depleted, that they have been scammed.

5 Ways Seniors Can Shield Themselves From Fraud

 

  1. Always look for authentic references.

Rip-off artists will not be able to supply authentic references because they are scammers. Make sure that your elderly family member takes the time to call each of the references listed to confirm credibility. If there are only new references, that should also be signal that they might be fake, too. If somebody comes to the door offering all kinds of awesome stuff but become edgy and evasive when asked for verifiable references, close the door.

  1. Never do business with a door-to-door salesman without written verification.

Unless a salesman is able to provide plenty of information about the company and can give a verifiable address, never ever do business with him or her. Emphasize to your family member that if the salesperson refuses to provide information about the company or dodges the question, he or she cannot be trusted.

  1. Never supply personal information at the door.

Never let your elderly family members give up personal information about themselves or your household to strangers (or to anybody, for that matter). Scammers will want to know what assets are inside the home, how many people live there, financial details, everybody else’s whereabouts, and more.

This information gives them the opportunity to steal right then and there, or map out a grand scheme. Even if they claim to be from the government or from a certain popular charity, tell the elderly members to never entertain them unless they have IDs and verifiable identities.

  1. Never hire anybody on the spot

Con artists who target senior citizens tend to trick their way into getting hired for a job as quickly as possible and to claim payment up front. Sometimes, they will useful aggressive methods just to manipulate the elderly to give them work. Often, they will not return to finish the job or will just disappear as soon as the money is handed to them.

To prevent your family members from becoming victims, never hire any contractor or agree to a payment-first scheme. It should always be work first, payment after. Better yet, take the time to check all references and ask for second opinions before agreeing to hire.

 

 

  1. Sign up for “Do Not Call” lists

This will prevent telemarketers from calling your home and eventually tricking seniors to buy into this and that scheme. It will be very easy for salesmen to ask your loved ones to give out credit card details over the phone because they’re selling something seniors “absolutely need right now.” Sometimes, telemarketers offering subscriptions to phone friendships can easily trick the elderly, especially if they’re always home alone and need someone to talk to regularly. These unassuming calls may seem harmless but are actually charged by the minute, leaving your loved one with a huge bill from someone he or she thought was sincere.

Protecting Elderly Loved Ones From Scams

The most common scams on seniors involve the sale of products that guarantee a boost in virility, memory function, or physical performance. They can also offer anti-cancer products, anti-aging devices, and so on. In the US, where there are “breakthrough” herbs or drugs being launched claiming to be the solution to all the aches and pains of growing old, con artists certainly have some leverage.

More sadly, some cons made on seniors are by those who are close to them, like another family member out for an early release of their inheritance, or a caregiver who has tricked the patient into leaving assets under his or her name. If you suspect that your elderly family member has been affected, check the recent changes in his or her accounts or if the monthly bills remain unpaid despite having enough money. Also observe if the senior appears confused and afraid about something.

Fraudsters will be amiable, friendly, and definitely sincere-sounding, and this will easily bait seniors because “they seemed nice.” Given this reality, take the time to discuss with your elderly family member and remind him or her not to be too trusting of the people around them. More often than not, scammers will be very well dressed and are masters at conversation, so they can’t simply be judged by how they look.

Vehicle Security Tips: 8 Ways To Make Your Car Safer

In the US, vehicle-related crimes are unfortunately a common occurrence. This is one of the reasons why we even bother to pay for car insurance. Similar to how we keep our homes and places of business secure, there are also technologies and methods that will help make our car less likely to be broken into or stolen. While we can’t really product if we’re going to be a victim, being proactive with security measures decreases the likelihood of being victims.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure that our vehicles and their contents are safe. By implementing preventive measures, we don’t always have to worry every time we park our cars somewhere. Here are eight best vehicle security tips we have gathered.

  1. Never forget to lock the doors.

Often, the simplest task as locking the doors whenever we leave the car is forgotten, and this what burglars check first. Regardless if you’re going to be away for 15 minutes or just 5 minutes, never forget to make

sure all doors are locked. Better yet, install an automatic lock system on your doors so you can check even from a distance using a remote. If you have an old car that isn’t compatible with tech, make sure you test all doors before walking away.

Remember, it takes only seconds for thieves to get access to whatever’s inside your vehicle. Don’t be too confident that you’ll just be “away for a second,” because burglars, too, need only a second to snatch your things away.

  1. Install a vehicle alarm.

An alarm will serve two purposes. One, it will alert you if someone is trying to tamper with your car. Two, it will scare off anyone

attempting to do it because the noise will draw people’s attention. While an alarm will not really stop a burglar or carjacker from stealing, it will serve as warning sign to stay away. Car alarms usually have blinking lights installed where they are easily visible to signal to would-be thieves that an alarm is in place. For many of them, the risk of a sharp sound and the flashing lights is also a major deterrent.

 

 

 

  1. Keep your valuables out of sight.

Thieves won’t likely steal anything if there’s nothing to steal. If outsiders have a clear view of that laptop, fancy cell phone, or expensive piece of jewelry that’s just sitting on the dash or the seat, you can count on it being a favorite target. Thus, if you must leave your stuff behind in the car, be sure to keep them inconspicuous by hiding them under the seat, under the rug, or covered with unassuming things like stacks of papers. Some security experts recommend sticking two floor mats together and creating a pocket in between where you can slide valuables in. So even if someone do

es try to check under the rug, they won’t see anything.

 

  1. Park in a well-lit area.

Parking in a well-lit, visible area will deter most thieves from attempting to burgle or steal your vehicle. As much as possible, park close

to building entrances or areas where there are security guards keeping watch. Park near a lamppost or a store with bright signage. Thieves like to lurk and work in the dark, so having bright light shining upon your vehicle is an effective deterrent.

  1. Install a lock for your steering wheel.

Steering locks, handbreak locks, and gear locks are made of heavy-duty metal and are very difficult to break. If you a car alarm is not in the budget right now, you can keep your car from being stolen by putting any of these on. Steering wheel locks and the like are usually priced at less than $100 but, in general, if you want a tougher piece of metal, it will definitely cost you a little more.

While sophisticated thieves aren’t really unfazed by these locks, the fact that they will take a while to break will have them thinking twice about spending time and energy on your vehicle. When they see this on your car, more often than not, they will just pass over yours and move on.

  1. Install a car immobilizer.

A car immobilizer is a piece of tech that will prevent your vehicle from being started if the person doesn’t the right key. While it won’t stop burglars from opening your car, it will definitely stop the vehicle from being carjacked. If the thief has advanced skills, he or she can probably find a way around it but, again, it will take time. And these extra minutes will likely discourage him or her from making an attempt.

 

 

 

 

  1. Install a car tracking system.

Car monitoring systems entail hiding a transmitter in your car. While it won’t deter or stop thieves from driving off with your vehicle, the tracker can record where it goes so you can eventually recover it. There are basically two types of trackers. One is driven by a GPS system while the other via VHF. GPS can effectively point out exactly where your car is when it’s at street level. Meanwhile, a VHF will tell you if it’s hidden in a storage unit or at car park underground.

  1. Mark or etch your car with a unique identifier.

Etching and marking are two ways you can “brand” your car so you can indentify that it’s yours when it gets stolen. It can be as simple as using an invisible UV pen to write on your vehicle, or covering the body with thousands of micro-dots encoded with your specific details. This high-tech and somewhat fancy method “stamps” your car’s serial number into the light covers or windows. Again, this won’t stop your car from being jacked but it can certainly make recovery much faster.

Overall, the general principle behind ensuring that your vehicle is safe is by taking a preventive approach so are less likely to become a victim. Nobody can predict if a crime is about to be committed on your car, but you can surely make it less attractive to thieves.

Safeguarding Yourself Online: 3 Common Identity Theft Scams And How To Prevent Them

Technology, for all its glory, is not immune to attacks and being solely dependent on it almost always means you will get hit by a glitch or a breach at any point. According to reports, over 200 businesses have fallen victim to hackers in 2017 alone (and in the US alone). As tech developers scramble to build fortresses that aim to block off any attempts at identity theft, hackers are also getting smarter.

That said, even if your system tells you it’s hacker-proof, the responsibility to protect your personal data, like Social Security and credit card numbers, still lies upon you. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from identity theft and to prevent it from happening to you. But, first, let’s understand what identity theft means.

Identity Theft

Any unauthorized access to your personal details can be classified as identify theft. These can cover financial data like bank account numbers and credit card details, Social Security numbers, your birthdate and physical address. These can also include passwords and usernames to your online accounts, your phone, computer, and more. In short, the loss of anything that can be used to falsely represent you is considered identity theft.

When somebody gets hold of these details, they have the power to assume your identity and open new accounts, access financial resources, or basically pretend to be you. It can be very difficult to erase all the damage once your identity has been stolen. If you didn’t have safeguards in place, you could face major financial turmoil that could take years to recover from. Even if the theft had been proven, all the trouble that you need to go through to fix everything is exhausting.

Watch Out For These Common Scams

While you cannot totally shield yourself from hackers, you can certainly reduce the odds of you becoming a victim. We’ve gathered some of the most common identify theft scams so we can all spot a tactic when it attempts to hit us.

  1. Ransomware

This happens when a software encrypts your data and then asks you for payment to recover it. Ransomware attacks are doubly dangerous because not only do they have their hands on your identifying information, they are also asking you to pay them to give it back (if they even truly will). It’s literally getting your information kidnapped for ransom. Some ransomware can even lock you out of your operating system.

How do you spot it? Ransomware usually comes as a fake website form, a corrupt link or attachment sent via email, and other software vulnerabilities. Once the malware is opened, it needs mere minutes to take over the data on your computer.

How to prevent it? One way to shield yourself from an attack is to back up all your data periodically into the Cloud or an external hard drive. That way, when it does hit you, all its efforts will be for nothing because you already have copies. Another way is by turning off macros in MS Office and removing plug-ins like Java and Adobe Reader from your browser. If you do need these plug-ins, pre-set them to ask you first every time they launch.

  1. Phishing

Phishing is perhaps the most common scam online. It happens when somebody tries to steal your data by using a webiste or an email posing as the legitimate one. Usually, you’ll see a message that asks you to click a link to either verify your information or update it. The moment you click it, malware enters your computer, giving hackers the chance to spy on your online movements and access to anything of value in your PC. If you do “update” your details, they also get access to your financials.

How to prevent? Check all the emails sent to you before opening any attachment or clicking a link. Take note of the email addresses they use. Most phishing scams use emails that look very much the same as the legitimate ones but with one or two letters off. You have to be very thorough and meticulous with checks. Sometimes, instinct plays a major role in your protection. If you think an email is suspicious, don’t open it. Better yet, call the company by phone or contact them through an email you’ve used before to ask them if they did send that email. In short, when in doubt, don’t.

  1. Fake online protection plans

This scam capitalizes on your fear of becoming a victim of identity theft. Clever, right? You will sometimes see emails, pop-up messages, and sometimes get phone calls from companies that will offer identity theft protection services and antivirus software. These claims will usually start with telling you your computer has been compromised. They will promise to get rid of all the threats before any “damage” can occur. Because you’re hell bent on protecting yourself, it’s all too easy to just give them what they need. That’s when the problems start.

How to prevent? It pays to always be wary and suspicious of offers like these. Never open emails or popups that claim your PC has been hacked. You can also use ad-blockers to ward off any sneaky attempts to reach you. Finally, to avoid getting victimized and getting to that situation where you will need to get your computer cleaned up, just invest in reputable antivirus software that will regularly sweep your computer and protect it from malware.

Protecting Yourself

To protect yourself, understand that identity hackers are here to stay so you shouldn’t be too confident that your computer is totally protected. In fact, their methods are advancing and looking too close like the legitimate ones. The best way to ward them off is to be vigilant and to educate yourself with how they operate. You can also invest in identity theft protection but work only with credible and reputable service providers with a strong and proven track record. If you suspect that you have been attacked, report it to the bank and the authorities right away.

Traveling With Children: 8 Safety Tips All Parents Should Know

The gift of travel is one of the best things you can give your family. The experience and the new knowledge that everyone gains is simply priceless. However, if you’re a parent traveling with little kids, it can also be exhausting and stressful if you’re not prepared.

Family vacations require meticulous planning, particularly with curious and quickly-bored kids in tow. From finding the right places to visit, to eat, to sleep, every parent’s goal is to make the trip as fruitful and enjoyable as possible while keeping everybody safe. Here are 8 safety tips all parents should know before booking those tickets with children.

  1. Do your research

Every vacation destination is appealing but not everything is child-friendly. Before you book those flights and accommodations, find out first if the place offers anything that the kids will enjoy. There are plenty of resources online and some even offer actual visitor reviews so you can definitely plan a trip that provides an equal share of fun for the adults and the young ones. Another thing that you should research on is the area’s safety issues. Is the crime rate high where you’re going? Is there an outbreak currently happening? These are crucial factors that should go into choosing where to go.

  1. Your itinerary should be child-friendly

Traveling with children calls for compromise. While they can’t do everything that you want to explore, you can plan in advance and make an itinerary that includes them and that both age groups will enjoy. You can find out online or ask the hotel if they have kids’ activities offered. Some hotels have “day use” programs designed for children that involves sports, art, and other learning activities. That way, while the grownups have their fun, the children can stay at the resort and enjoy, as well.

  1. Orient the kids with safety and emergency procedures

You never know when an emergency might happen while your family is on vacation. While you can’t predict what will happen, it helps to get your kids familiar with the basics. Practice with your children what they should do if a distressing incident happens. You can tell them to ask for help from uniformed personnel or another parent with kids. Alternatively, you can advise them to stay where they or go to a specific spot to meet you.

Practice makes perfect, so be sure to go over these instructions with your children several times so they remember it. To be sure, have them repeat it back to you so you can verify if they have understood what you said. You can also point out where there nearest community building or police station/outpost is so they can see where they can call for help.

  1. Keep them busy and entertained

There’s a higher chance that kids will give you meltdowns if they are bored. So, make sure you always give them something to do. Little kids are, no doubt, adorable, but they can also be really mischievous. Bring small toys or art kits with you when you travel, or be ready with movies or downloaded games they can watch and play on your gadget during those long waits. Or you can have them take a nap!

  1. Track your children

Curious kids are prone to pulling those heart-stopping disappearing acts. To prevent this hassle, you can have them wear tracking devices so you’ll know exactly when they’ve strayed from the group and where to find them. Now your family can get into the busy sections of the night market and crowded tourist attractions without you worrying constantly where your children are. These wearable gadgets come in cute designs and colors that your children won’t know it’s your way to monitoring them. Some even play music and have games built in.

  1. Make information cards or IDs

Have your kids wear IDs or keep information cards in their pocket in case they do get lost. These should contain your names, contact numbers, and anything else that can be used to reach you. Make sure to update these cards when you change destinations.

  1. Bring a medical kit and some snacks

Scrapes, bumps, and falls are normal when you have kids, so having a medical kit always with you is a smart decision when on vacation. Put in Band-Aids, mild painkillers, disinfectant sprays, and other medical essentials so you’re always ready for anything. If your child requires special attention, make sure that you’ve packed all his or her meds, as well (plus backup).

More importantly, always bring water and some snacks. Kids get thirsty and hungry at the most awkward times. Arming yourself with their essentials ensure that they stay calm and satisfied. You don’t want your kid wailing for treats when you’re all waiting in line for a ride at a theme park.

  1. Check your insurance

Go over your insurance policy and find out if it offers coverage for trips aboard, or even just local trips. If you don’t see anything travel-related on print, it’s worth calling up your insurer to ask about it. You might not think that insurance is necessary for vacations but you’ll be thankful that you included it in your planning should something untoward does happen. In its absence, you can also avail of supplemental insurance. Also check the hospitals where you will be going and find out if they take your insurance. Although nobody wants to dwell on the negative when planning a vacation, it pays to be on the safe side, especially since you’ll be traveling with children.

Overall, always have a Plan B. As parents, the key to an enjoyable vacation with children in tow is to prepare for the worst. That way, when something does happen, you know your heart won’t jump out of your throat because you’re confidently well equipped. Compared to traveling with grownups, trips with kids require extra research and readiness. Don’t fret too much over all the planning that you need to do. When you see those smiles and all the fun everyone is having, everything will be worth it.

6 Clever Ways To Hide Your Valuables In Plain Sight

When it comes to keeping your valuables safe, sometimes the simple solutions are the best ones. While it is recommended that you get a safe or install a home security system to safeguard your home and keep precious items under lock and key, being clever also does the trick. To foil a would-be burglar and keep him or her from accessing your valuables, you can get creative with how you store them.

In short, keep them in too common places where they probably won’t even bother to look. You can make use of everyday items to conceal jewelry, money, keys, and other valuable items. When it comes to foiling thieves, hiding things in plain sight can also work. Here are 6 amazing ways you can pull one over the burglar and ensure that your stuff is protected and out of sight.

  1. Stuff them in a towel

This is probably a common practice in your family, especially when you go to the pool or the beach. While this is not the best way to keep the thieves at bay, it is less conspicuous and obvious as putting your valuables in a separate pouch in your bag. You can do the same in the cabinet and choose a towel amongst many in the pile to hide your jewelry or cash.

Burglars often come to a home looking for valuables in drawers or go searching for pouches or jewelry boxes. They likely won’t be looking into towels, unless they have plenty of time to ransack your place (which they often don’t). In a rush, they might try to rummage through your underwear closet, which is one of the most common places where valuables are hidden, and will not have the time or smarts to go through your towels.

  1. Reuse empty containers and bottles

Whether it’s a spice jar or a shampoo bottle, burglars will not have these everyday items a priority when they loot your home. You can either clean the bottles out thoroughly before using them as a keeper of valuables, or wrap your stuff in ziploc before putting them in as protection.

When reusing a condiment jar, what you can do is paint the inside with glue and add herbs or spices again to coat it and give it a “full” appearance. Then you can put your items in ziploc or a plastic bag and put them inside. You can then display the spice jar back in the cupboard and nobody will even bother to look. Alternatively, you can purchase those pre-made trick jars that use the likes of sunscreen bottles, sauce jars, and other common food containers as storage.

  1. Feminine hygiene products

Some guys even refuse to buy feminine products for their girlfriends and wives at the store, so hiding your valuables inside tampon or feminine pad boxes is a great example of hiding in plain sight. Just make sure that the box also contains actual products, at least at the top, so you can safely tuck your jewelry and money inside. If you’re traveling, you can use an empty tampon applicator in a wrapper to hold cash. This helps ensure that those sticky fingers by pickpockets will just graze through them and don’t even bother to open.

  1. Not the trunk and glove box

When you need to store valuables in the car, you have to think out of the box and go beyond the usual glove compartment and trunk. Before you reach your destination or even start traveling, make sure that you have already carefully stashed your stuff. You don’t want people to see you stuffing your gadgets, right?

Also, if you’re carrying small items, you can opt to place them inside a drink cup or an empty soda can. You can actually buy these trick items, which are designed to outsmart the bad guys. Another good location to store items in the car is to place them under the floor mat or between the seat cushions. Here’s a tip: get two identical mats and glue them together while leaving a slot where you can slip items inside.

  1. Sports items

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If you’re outdoors, hiding your valuables inside your bag makes you more prone to thieving. However, if you stuff your money inside say, a tennis ball, nobody would bother to give it a look. Just make a slice in the ball to turn it into a secret storage place for your keys, cash, watch and other small items. It works the same as those plastic coin purses that open up to a hollow space when you squeeze it. The ball will then pop back to its original look and look like a simple ball again to mix with the rest of your stuff. At home, you can do this in that place where you keep your sports equipment. Surely nobody would take the time to sift through extra balls.

  1. Wear them, instead

It’s best to always keep your valuables in your person, especially when you’re out and travelling. So the age-old trick of hiding stuff inside your bra does still work. Keeping them in your pockets is all too common and pickpocketers will definitely prioritize those when they target you. You can also attach a small pouch under your clothes or wear it around your neck or waist like a belt. There are also those nifty spy-like jackets and clothing that are made with secret pockets and other security features to help keep your valuables out of sight.

Of course, more than being smarter than the thief, it’s still safest to install a home security system to prevent these situations from happening in the first place. But just to make sure, when it comes to hiding valuables in plain sight, the trick is to not to overthink. Even the simplest and most common household items can be used as alternative storage. This way, in case a burglar does succeed in getting inside the house, he or she will definitely go out empty-handed.

Package Theft: 7 Ways To Prevent Your Parcels From Getting Stolen

The season of multiple gift giving may be over but the era of package thieves remains at a high. People who prey on unattended packages are always on the ready to pick your box off the front porch or the mailbox, so you must take proper measures to make sure this does not happen to you. Packages that sit for a long time (even just a few hours, while you’re out doing grocery shopping) are attractive not just to nosy neighbors and curious kids, but to thieves, as well.

How To Prevent Package Theft

According to Consumer Affairs, there are over 23 million complaints about stolen packages in every year — and that’s in the US alone. This number is at its highest during the holiday season, and after Cyber Monday or Black Friday, although reports of theft really happen all-year-round. Thieves don’t really choose an occasion to prey on unopened packages. As long as they see a box unattended, you can be somebody will be interested.

Despite this statistic, there are some things you can do so you don’t become part of this number. While you cannot really predict if and when you will be a victim of a thief, you can take some steps to reduce the likelihood that it will happen to you.

Here are seven things you can do to prevent package theft.

  1. Have your package delivered to your office, instead

You spend most of the day time at work, anyways, so why not just have your package delivered there so you can receive it yourself? There are just too many stories of packages getting snatch by curious passers-by or naughty neighbors from the porch. Also on a high are complaints about irresponsible delivery guys who just leave packages without even bothering to check if anybody’s home or, worse, pre-signing your delivery forms without asking you first. One way to avoid this is to have it delivered to your workplace or to the house of a friend you trust to ensure that you get your package intact and safe every time.

  1. Install a security camera on you porch or front door

A camera might not stop thieves from getting at your package, but having one that is visible will deter them from attempting anything. A video cam facing your hallway, driveway or front door is a great deterrent and people will have to think twice before trying to get near. There are security cams that you can access in real time via your smartphone and provide high definition quality videos so you can see things clearly even in dim light conditions, like gloomy weather or dusk. Security experts recommend that you get an HD surveillance camera that has a minimum of 1080p so you can make a clear and positive ID when your package does still get stolen.

  1. Use Amazon locker or other smart package lockers

When you know nobody’s going to be home, you can have your packages delivered to smart lockers at select locations across the US. You will be given a unique code to punch into the system so it churns out your package. Not all states have this, though, so best to check first if you have a smart locker near you or are willing to drive a bit to retrieve it. Smart lockers are a convenient and guaranteed safe way to receive packages. The UPS Store also lets you buy or rent digital lockers that you can also share with friends if you are frequent online shoppers.

  1. Put your deliveries on hold

When you know you’re going to be away for a week, you can call the courier service or post office to tell them to place a “hold” on your packages until you call them again or for a pre-set period. Delivery services like FedEx or USPS have this service for free. Some couriers charge a minimal fee for keeping your package at their warehouses for a while. Do check with your service provider first about their fees and guidelines. If they do charge, this amount will be nothing compared to the hassle of having your stuff stolen from your yard just because nobody could receive it.

  1. Get insurance

You don’t want to come home after a fun holiday to find out that your packages have been stolen or have gone missing. One way to make sure that your precious parcel is protected is by getting insurance. Courier services will guarantee reimbursement on the declared value of your package in the event that it gets looted or it gets lost along the way. Check with your service provider about their terms and conditions first.

  1. Require a signature upon delivery

There have been plenty of reports about delivery personnel pre-signing your packages and then just leaving them on your front door, ripe for everyone’s picking. To prevent this from happening, you can ask for signature delivery. UPS has this service, where you can ask your sender to require a delivery confirmation signature before the package can be released as “delivered.” If you asked for this service and it was not followed, the courier company can be held liable legally and you will be given a full refund if no proof of delivery is presented.

  1. Reschedule delivery

If you don’t know when exactly you’ll be returning from your vacation or work trip, you can monitor your shipment using the tracking number and call the courier service to reroute the parcel to another address. This can be a trusted friend or family member’s house where you are sure that somebody will guarantee a delivery first-hand. On the other hand, you can also ask that the delivery company reschedule the actual drop-off. Both services might come with a fee but, again, this amount will be minimal compared to the trouble of tracking your missing package after a relaxing holiday.

Whether it’s the holiday season or a regular day, nobody really is immune to package theft when there’s a parcel just sitting at your porch and not getting any attention. You can outsmart would-be thieves and give yourself peace of mind while you’re away by following any of these seven tips. By being smart about your parcels, you can then go back to shopping and receiving packages confidently and without fear that the nosy neighbor would tinker with it or it gets stolen.