Protecting our families, homes, and valuables is a top priority. Home and business security systems aim to give you peace of mind when it comes to intruders, however, not all properties are created equal. A security system tailored to your specific needs is a smarter option. Aside from consulting with Security Cam Experts, you should also take note of these statistics and security tips.
Having something to protect you is better than nothing, which is why even a simple dummy camera can make a difference. But if you can afford it, investing in surveillance systems and home alarm systems can be a great benefit and put some of your worries at ease. If you have any questions or want to shop a wide variety of affordable security cameras and equipment, please call 888-203-6294 or visit SecurityCamExpert.com today!
When it comes to home safety, it is easy to overlook some potential hazards which can cause serious and sometimes fatal accidents. Luckily, some of these can be prevented with simple and relatively cost-effective measures. Take action and prevent these mishaps with these tips.
With the surprising number of deaths resulting from fires in homes/buildings with absent or non-functioning smoke alarms (an average of 1450 deaths from 2009-2013), please make sure that you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home (including the attic and the basement).
To ensure that all fires are detected, invest in one which utilizes both a photoelectric sensor for smoldering fires, and an ionization sensor for fast-flaming fires. Those alarms with an ionization sensor should be kept away from the kitchen and baths. Also, invest in interconnected alarms so that if a fire starts in one area of your home, the entire home is alerted.
If your house has a gas dryer, range, other fuel burning equipment, or an attached garage, it is advised to install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. These should be present on each living level, as well as in the basement and near the garage (follow manufacturer’s instructions on placement).
Test your alarms at least monthly, and vacuum them to prevent dust from interfering with their sensors every so often. Follow the guidelines on when to replace batteries and the devices themselves based on life expectancy of sensors.
Trips & Falls
Did you know that every year, more than 10,000 people die after falling at home? Even more sustain injuries. We all can be a little clumsy sometimes, but there are ways to prevent these types of accidents in your home.
Make sure that your furniture is arranged in a way that does not disrupt your typical routine (ex. a clear path between your bed and your bedroom door). Keep any pet bowls and electrical cords along the walls rather than across any pathways. Avoid storing piles of paper on the ground, and eliminate any throw rugs as they may skid. If you decide to keep the throw rug, use carpet tacks or double-sided carpet tape to keep it in place. In the bath tub, consider installing a rubber mat or non slip strips and grab bars. Lastly, if you’re remodeling, you may want to choose anti-slip flooring material whenever possible.
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 486,000 people were treated for burn injuries (many were children) in the United States in 2011. While lowering the maximum temperature on your water heater to 120°F can help prevent scalds, it also provides an ideal environment for opportunistic bacteria to breed.
Instead, set domestic water heaters to 140°F and employ anti-scald devices at each faucet. For example, thermostatic mixing valves mix hot and cold water to a safe temperature before sending through the faucet. These have become increasingly common in new homes and are often built in to newer fixtures. A licensed plumber can examine your system and install them as needed, or you can save money by installing a single anti-scald valve for your entire house.
Secure your home with our quality security camera systems today! Browse online at SecurityCamExpert.com or call 888-203-6294 to schedule a site survey or learn more about our products and installation services.
Concerns about the security of your home and loved ones can be especially high during the holidays. With increased risk of thefts and burglaries, it is important to employ the proper security methods to put your mind at ease. Here are a few ways you can secure your home and protect your assets.
By completing this assessment, you can recognize any threats that may not be detected by even the best alarm system. Some things to consider include who may have access to your home, how prepared you are for a natural disaster or civil emergency, and whether there is any online or public record information that could possibly compromise your security.
A home security system, complete with a backup power source, is a crucial component to protect your property. If you own any vacation homes, be sure to secure and monitor those as well.
If a security system came with your home, you may need to reevaluate how it suits your needs. If needed, invest in upgrades or a whole new system. Assess your risk points and go from there, but be sure that it is user-friendly as well, so that your family members can access and easily operate it.
Annual follow-ups with your security provider are recommended. Update contacts, information and make any adjustments as necessary.
You should be prepared for a variety of emergency situations. While most commonly associated with natural disasters, emergency plans can also be implemented for other situations, such as home invasion, storm evacuations, and other crises.
In case of emergency, be sure to have secure locks and the proper emergency supplies. In the event of your home security being compromised, you should have a rapid response plan. Prepare a “grab-and-go” packed with essentials, including communication tools and meeting information.
Aside from having these plans in place, you will want to rehearse with all family members so that they know and understand their role in keeping everyone safe. Try to practice these at least once a year so that the appropriate steps stay fresh in their minds.
Your biggest threat could be someone you know, who knows your residence and schedule. These people can include domestic staff such as housekeepers or child care providers. Be sure to follow best practices before hiring home employees.
For prospective domestic employees, be sure to do a professional background check – do not rely on a simple Google search. Ask trusted friends or an attorney to recommend a private investigator or third-party service that can pull up critical information using the candidate’s name and date of birth. If you are using a placement agency, be sure their background checks are comprehensive and legitimate.
When hiring, include a pre-employment application which authorizes criminal and credit checks, and always check references and conduct in-person interviews with potential candidates.
Firm employment agreements are important and can protect your security during (and after) a domestic employee’s service. Work with an attorney to draft a secure contract that encompasses, and include the following:
While there’s no obligation, be prepared to provide severance pay upon departure of a terminated employee. Thoughtful treatment at termination can go a long way toward preventing a disgruntled former employee from retribution.
Restrict Access To Bank Accounts
Despite the fact that most domestic employees often need money for home-related expenses, you should never give an employee your personal ATM car or password. Use a separate account for household expenses and designate the employee as an authorized cardholder, or consider using prepaid debit cards, which can put a limit to the amount spent. Both options allow limited access to your personal accounts while allowing you to track spending.
Remember that anyone who has access to your property can present a security risk. This includes any building contractors, landscapers, electricians, and the like. Before proceeding with any services, speak with the principal of the company and find out if they are licensed and insured, whether they do background credit and criminal checks and periodic drug testing on employees, and ask for a roster of people who will be at the property on a regular basis. If any information seems questionable to you, look for services elsewhere.
Despite your efforts to keep your personal information private, there is information about you that is publicly available. One piece of information about you may seem harmless, but when it is combined with other public information, it can be used to gain insight about you (ex. income, properties) which may attract criminals. Luckily, there are ways you can control your public presence.
Responsible Online Behavior
Enlisting an online security consultant should be the first step. They will evaluate your public “footprint” by doing a thorough search of the Internet and present you with the results. From there, you can work together to assess and manage any and all threats. Ensure that the whole family is on board, especially children who are active on social media. Everyone should understand how to engage in responsible online behavior.
Public Institutions, Private Information
Beware of whom you share your information. Your information can still end up online through reputable third parties (ex. charities, schools, civic groups). These public entities often mean well, but most lack strict cyber security systems and protocols to keep your information secure.
If you are going to make a major donation or real estate purchase, use a trust account to protect your identity and any other sensitive information associated with it. Choose a trust name that is different from the family name and associate it with a nonresidential address such as a P.O. Box.
Commercial and public sites can reveal details about your home you would rather keep private. For example, your realtor’s website may still contain photos of your home long after the close of the sale, while other sites may list pricing history of your property. Most of these sites will remove your information per request. You may want to discuss these issues with your real estate agent as they may have more insight on how to keep your information private.
While it is not ideal to think about the possibilities of something going wrong, it is beneficial to be prepared. Aside for the aforementioned measures, what else do you do to ensure your security? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
To invest in quality CCTV surveillance cameras and security systems for your home, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com or call 1-888-203-6294. Inquire about a free quote, site survey or our installation services.
While the holidays are a great time for deals, it is also a prime time for scams and fraud. To avoid falling victim to these deceptive offers, watch out for these common tricks.
Unfamiliar Sites Offering Steep Discounts
If you come across any of these, proceed with caution. Often times, these websites promise incredible deals on brand names or gift cards as a bonus for purchasing a product, but they don’t deliver. You submit your payment, but never receive your order, and there’s no way to contact the business. You are left giving away money, personal information, and potentially compromising your identity. In addition, you should always be careful with unsolicited emails promoting these too-good-to-be-true deals, which usually contain phishing links that put your information at risk.
And if you’re shopping online, never wire money for a purchase. Once a money transfer is received, it cannot be recovered. Also, be sure you are shopping on secure sites and use two-factor authentication and complex passwords for customer accounts. While online shopping and checking out, make sure that the URL remains at the same domain. If it changes, this may be a sign that you are being redirected to a fraudulent site. Bottom line: Err on the side of caution and stick with known retailers and manufacturers.
During the holiday season, generosity is usually high and charities often reap these benefits. Scammers tend to prey on the kindness of others by creating fake charities or misusing the names of well-known charities.
Before you donate, do some research and verify that the charity and web address are valid. Also, use a check or credit card, rather than a wire transfer or cash, when you donate. In case the charity is fraudulent, it would be easier to recover your donation if a check or credit card was used.
Seasonal Employment Scams
Seasonal employment allows for workers to make some extra cash during the holidays. Scammers see this as an opportunity to offer fake jobs that require prospective employees to pay for “training” or a “start-up kit.” Consider these red flags, as well as job listings that state “no experience necessary” and “work from home” (especially if they are used in the same post).
Social Media Mishaps
Social media can be risky in many ways. Scammers may use social media to post deceptive links to install malware or viruses on computers. To cut down on your susceptibility to this, avoid accepting friend requests from people you don’t know well and refrain from clicking on suspicious posts.
You can also make yourself an easy target by sharing too much information on social media. You may enjoy checking in and posting your location on your profile, however, this can give thieves an upper hand by inadvertently promoting the fact that your home is vacant. Avoid posting concert tickets and trip accommodations as well, since they can be printed and sold to someone else. Tip: If you must share your tickets on social media, refrain from sharing the barcode and event date.
Smartphone App Scams
Be careful when downloading apps. Apps disguised as games and offered for free can be used to steal personal information from your device. Look for third-party reviews before downloading from an unknown source, and if anything seems suspicious, skip it.
To protect your home with quality CCTV security cameras and surveillance equipment, visit SecurityCamExpert.com. We also offer site surveys and installation services – call 1-888-203-6294 to learn more.
Both convenient and easily accessible, online shopping has become a preferred method of shopping for most. The number of consumers who shop online only grows during the holiday season. The downside is that package thefts also tend to increase during the holidays. Protect your possessions with these smart delivery tips.
Require A Signature
Choose this option whenever it is available. If your package requires a signature and no one is home, the package cannot be left at your doorstep, thus, eliminating the risk of someone snatching your package.
Use Shipping Locations For Delivery
If you have a secondary mailbox at a shipping location, you can usually have your packages dropped off here for free. That way, your package will be waiting for you at a secure location.
Flaunt Your Home Security System
Install signs to make others aware that you have a security system. This poses an added challenge and will likely deter most thieves from targeting you. If someone does approach, you can enable push notifications and will have pertinent footage to capture the suspect.
Sign Up For Email Notifications
FedEx and UPS, along with other businesses including Amazon, send email notifications for tracking. This allows you to virtually monitor your package from shipment to delivery.
Deliver To Your Place Of Business
Before doing this, make sure that management approves. If they do, this will ensure that you are able to receive your package rather than leaving it at your front door all day.
Lastly, if you are shipping a package to a friend or relative, include a piece of paper with your address and the destination address inside the box. In case the shipping label is damaged or missing on the package, FedEx or UPS can open the package, find the address, and ship it.
This year, Halloween falls on a Monday night. Whether you’re trick-or-treating with the kids, enjoying a night on the town, or simply commuting home, be sure to be vigilant and heed these safety tips.
Adjust To Your Surroundings
Drivers should turn headlights on by dusk, and watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Remember, there is more foot traffic on Halloween.
If you are the pedestrian or cyclist, do your best to make sure drivers can see you. For dark costumes, try adding something bright or reflective so that they are easier to spot. Cyclists should wear bright, reflective clothing and utilize flashing bike lights if possible.
Children age 12 and under should travel with adult supervision. Those going door-to-door should remember to cross the street at corners, using the designated crosswalks and obeying traffic signals.
Strength In Numbers
Those mature enough to celebrate without a chaperone should stick to familiar and well-lit areas. If you will be celebrating outdoors, it is better to travel in groups.
Popular times for trick-or-treating span from 5:30pm until 9:30pm. You should always be alert for pedestrians, but especially during this time, practice extra caution.
Everyone from SecurityCamExpert.com wishes you a happy and safe Halloween!
Staying connected to your home is a convenience in itself, but in the case of natural disasters and emergencies, it can be an invaluable tool. If you live in an area prone to extreme weather, you likely have an emergency plan in place. However, a connected home can provide new and safer options to manage the situation.
Regardless of whether it is your home, vacation property, or even the home of a loved one, here are some ways connected technology can benefit you in the face of an emergency and beyond.
Unfortunately, emergency evacuations mean abandoned homes and properties, which is ideal for looters. With connected security cameras, you can keep an eye on who might be entering your home, as well as monitor the possible damage occurring as a result of the natural disaster.
Installing water sensors can alert you of flood conditions and even slow leaks, which can cause significant damage over time if not detected early.
Aside from water sensors, carbon monoxide and gas detectors can save lives by alerting you when levels become dangerous.
Connected devices such as smart locks and garage doors often have motion detection sensors which notify you when someone enters or exits your home.
Remote Monitoring & Push Notifications
Because you can monitor from a safe distance, these are ideal in emergency situations. Push notifications provide up-to-date alerts which allow you to deal with situations in a timely fashion. Both enable you to monitor and understand what is going on without putting yourself in danger.
Affordable & Reliable Communication
Because these technologies seem so advanced, people often interpret this as complicated and expensive. However, this is not the case. There are various solutions on the market that offer relatively simple installation for cost-effective prices. Because the accessories and transmission processes have become more affordable over the years, connected technology is more accessible and easier to manage and maintain.
You can possibly get a discount on your homeowner’s insurance if you install smart, connected devices. Many insurance providers are now offering discounts for those with smart homes. Some providers even partner with connected technology manufacturers to offer more incentives for customers.
Furthermore, choosing smart devices for your home helps to relieve emergency personnel and law enforcement agencies. Instead of entering an area affected by a natural disaster, you can check in on your property remotely to stay out of harm’s way and avoid interrupting the ongoing work of emergency personnel.
Peace Of Mind
As a whole, connected devices can offer some peace of mind in stressful, dire times. While these devices can be extremely helpful in disaster areas, all homeowners can benefit from a connected home.
When you decide to install home security cameras, where you place your cameras and how you use your footage is important to consider. For maximum protection, it is recommended to monitor common areas as well as possible points of entrance. While home surveillance is not banned, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid breaking the law.
Home Surveillance Concerns
Within your home, you do have the right to record without informing others, but there are very large exceptions to this rule. First, any area where a “reasonable expectation of privacy” is assumed is off limits. For example, if your home security cameras are monitoring your front yard and possibly the sidewalk and street, your expectation of privacy in these areas is low. On the other hand, bathrooms and bedrooms, where you may be in a state of undress, have a high expectation of privacy, and, thus, are prohibited.
Second, if your cameras enable audio recording, you may want to brush up on wiretapping laws. While these vary slightly from state to state, federal statutes allow audio recording so long as one of the two parties consents. This basically means that you, as the recorder, may know and give consent without informing the other party. However, some states, including California, require dual consent, meaning both parties must be aware and agree to be recorded.
In regards to recording burglars, any trespassers forfeit any expectation of privacy in your home. You may record the person, submit the footage to police, and use your video in court.
For cameras that run non-stop and record audio, you will want to warn any person that is allowed access to your home that these cameras are there and running, otherwise you may run the risk of breaking wiretapping laws. These people include family members, guests/visitors, delivery persons or installers.
The Consent Conundrum
You may now be wondering how you can lawfully gain dual consent. Will verbal consent or a surveillance sticker in the window suffice, or should you have every guest fill out a consent form upon entering? Unfortunately, consent for audio recordings must be given in written form. It is a common misconception that window decals or yard signs are sufficient means to gain consent, as it is expected for visitors to see and recognize them.
However, in a home setting, there may be an exception to the rule. With home cameras, it boils down to what you do, or intend to do, with your recordings. If you don’t do anything with the recording, it is likely that no one will know or care – no harm, no foul.
If you do something with the recording, things change. For example, say a celebrity is a guest in your home and now you have footage of this celebrity hanging out in your home. While selling this footage to a gossip magazine for profit may seem enticing, you will be breaking the law. First, consent was never given from this celebrity. Second, you cannot use a recording for commercial gain without the subject’s consent.
In regards to wiretapping, a possible solution is to simply turn off audio recording if your devices permit. However, why turn off a service that you have paid for? While thieves are usually fairly quiet while they work, using audio recording for eavesdropping may be beneficial (but puts forth yet another ethical dilemma).
Uses For Recordings
Let’s say you record someone in your home plotting a crime, or admitting to committing a crime. Most states allow you to use the recording to prevent a crime or prove that one was committed.
However, if the recording does not involve a crime and you decide to post it on YouTube or a social media site, you could be engaging in illegal activity. Using a recording for exploitive or commercial purposes (as in the previous celebrity example) may be misappropriation if not all parties consent. As a reminder, laws vary from state to state so please look into your own state’s laws.
Also, even within your own home, recording with the intention of blackmail is illegal.
Law enforcement has the right to ask for your home surveillance if they suspect illegal activity, and a warrant will likely be necessary. However, since most recordings are stored in the cloud, they may be able to go straight to the provider and obtain the footage, bypassing your permission to access.
What Should You Do?
To err on the side of caution, be sure that everyone entering your home is aware that the cameras are there, and avoid placing them in areas where privacy is expected. If you wish to withhold the information, so long as you do not do anything with the footage, you should be fine.
However, there are other reasons to be careful with the privacy of your security cameras. While you may not have the intention to do bad things, hackers may be able to access your cameras and broadcast your feed. To protect yourself and your guests, it is advised to take reasonable security precautions (ex. strong passwords, maintain security Wi-Fi network), and take the ethical high road when using new technology.
Businesses often turn to video surveillance to enhance security. In recent years, it has become a more feasible option for small businesses to employ cloud-based video surveillance due to lower costs and easy maintenance.
While some swear by the cloud, others are hesitant and worry about its security. If you are considering moving your video surveillance management to the cloud, you should get a better understanding of how it will work and how you can ensure that your data stays safe. Take these measures to ensure that your cloud-based video surveillance is as secure as it can get.
Is Your Hardware Secure?
Before you even think about cloud security, you must make sure that the equipment you have is free from security vulnerabilities. Do your homework and research different vendors’ reputation and history. Once you find a vendor you trust, make sure that your equipment is up-to-date with the proper software installed and in use. Maintain security by keeping your firmware current and using strong passwords. If your vendor has any other recommended best practices, be sure to follow them.
Because the definition of “cloud” can vary from vendor to vendor, make sure you know exactly what your vendor is offering. When it comes to cloud service for video surveillance, you should be provided with camera management and data storage in the cloud. Your media infrastructure and value-added services should be managed in the cloud as well. Beware of vendors who advertise a cloud service, but really only offer remote access to a local device. This can be beneficial, but is limited in comparison to real cloud services.
Learn More About The Cloud & Data Center
If your cloud provider’s solutions are rooted on well-known cloud servers such as Amazon, Microsoft, or Google, you can rest assured that their general security is adequate. However, if they are using their own proprietary data center, you may want to proceed with caution. While there are secure clouds out there, you don’t know for sure how secure theirs is.
It is much easier to track a well-known cloud provider’s track record. For example, the Amazon AWS data center is supporting some of the largest internet services in the world. Their data storage environment is designed to limit the loss of data objects and is set for “encrypted at rest” which means it is stored encrypted in the cloud.
Camera To Cloud Connection
You should always understand how your system works. When it comes to your cloud-based video surveillance, you should know how your camera connects to the cloud. There are three different types of connections:
When it comes to your cloud solution, we will deal with the first two options only. If you prefer no network configuration required, your available options will be limited, but viable. Some vendors offer a solution to configure your cloud cameras with no network configuration, while others have built-in direct connections for your camera to the cloud.
Beyond that, any other cloud solution is likely a P2P solution, which tends to be less reliable than other options, so be sure to research your camera and cloud vendors.
The other option is to configure your own network to permit access to your own device from the internet. This is technically called “port forwarding” and, if done correctly, can be completely legitimate and safe way to configure your cameras. If you choose this route, here are some tips to boost security.
Implement these measures and work with your network or IT person and you have an adequate way to configure your cloud video surveillance system. You will avoid any black box P2P connections while opening up a huge list of cameras you can use for cloud surveillance.
Cloud To User Connection
Now that everything is in order, find out how the cloud makes your data available to you through its web or mobile apps. All your data and video is under their control, therefore the traffic from the cloud to your web browser or mobile app should be strongly authenticated with username and password and encrypted in transit using TLS, including standard web traffic and video streams.
While other limitations may occur (ex. bandwidth capacity), security concerns should not hold you back from cloud-based video surveillance. As evidenced, there are smart ways to keep your cloud video surveillance safe and secure. If done correctly, cloud-based video surveillance can offer a better solution than local storage solutions.
For a wide range of network IP security cameras, CCTV surveillance packages, and more, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. If you have any questions and would like to speak to a representative, please call 1-888-203-6294.
People often take vacations over the summer, which makes it no surprise that July and August are the months with most break-ins. If you’re going away for a little vacation, use these tips to help keep your home and property safe.
Think Like A Burglar
Take a look at your home and think about the ways you would try to break in. These spots should be reinforced with extra security. You may also want to consider concealing your valuables. If burglars can see something they want through a window, they may be more likely to target that home.
Take pictures of your home and your belongings before you leave. In case a burglar does target your house, the photos can help to document any damage and help you create an inventory log with estimated values of your items. Both of these can be especially helpful for insurance purposes.
These will need to be adjusted if you have a house sitter or pet sitter coming and going, but, in general, you should:
To avoid returning to damaged property, turn off and unplug electronics, such as TVs, computers, or other devices, that could be damaged in the event of power surges. Depending on the length of your vacation, you may want to consider turning off the water and gas as well.
If possible, get your neighbors involved. Choose a trusted neighbor or two and politely ask them if they can keep an eye on things while you’re away, and offer to do that same if they leave. You can have the post office hold your mail, or have your neighbors pick it up, as well as any ads or flyers left on your door. You may also ask them to mow your lawn, trim plants, and set out trash cans, even if they are empty. This will help to keep up the charade that someone is occupying the home. Lastly, consider giving your most trusted a neighbor a spare key in case of emergencies.
If you’re looking to upgrade or add a surveillance system to your home or business, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com. We carry a vast selection of quality security cameras, CCTV surveillance packages, and more at affordable prices. To schedule a free site survey or learn more about our installation services, please call 1-888-203-6294.