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Safety Tips

Residential Security Tips

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.

  • Perform an all-hazards residential risk assessment.

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.

  • Install a customized home security system and use it.

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.

  • Develop and practice an emergency response plan.

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.

  • Know who has access to your homes and properties.

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.

Prescreening
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.

Employment Agreements
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:

  • Nondisclosure language
  • Clear terms and expectations (including restrictions)
  • Provisions for transportation and expenses (use of car, credit card, phone, computer)
  • Provisions for periodic re-screening of credit and criminal records
  • Reasons and provisions for termination of employment

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.

Contractors
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.

  • Manage your public presence.

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.

Inadvertent Footprint
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.

Beware Of Holiday Scams

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.

Fake Charities
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.

Do you have any other advice or tips on avoiding holiday scams? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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.

Halloween Safety Tips

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.

Pedestrian Safety
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.

Trick-Or-Treating
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.

Driver Safety
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.

If you have any other Halloween safety tips to mention, please share them with us and your peers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Everyone from SecurityCamExpert.com wishes you a happy and safe Halloween!

BBQ Safety Tips

With Memorial Day approaching, many of us may be dusting off our barbecue grills. Whether you consider yourself to be a grill master or a novice, it’s wise to review some barbecue safety tips and tricks. Remember that the U.S. Fire Administration estimates roughly 6,500 grill fires will occur, resulting in hefty property damages. You never know what could happen, and you’re better safe than sorry, right?

Location
You want to set up shop in a well-ventilated area. An open area away from buildings and high traffic is ideal. Aside from good ventilation, you want to steer clear of any falling debris (ex. dry leaves) or anything overhead that could catch fire.

Patience
Take your time when lighting the grill. If it doesn’t start right away, don’t keep pushing the ignite button. Since gas has been leaking since you first turned on the burner, you should turn off the gas and allow the gas to dissipate before trying again. Because gas is heavier than air, you will want to wait at least a few minutes.

Watch The Grill
Never leave your grill unattended. Never. While this seems like common sense, we often overlook this. Especially with children running around, always make sure someone is manning the grill.

Clothing
Avoid loose attire or anything that hangs which could possible catch fire. While you may want to look cute for your get together, safety should always come first. And you can always change after the grilling is done.

Food Safety
Aside from fire hazards, food safety is important, too. Remember that any marinade that has touched raw meat is not safe to reuse for basting (unless it was brought to a rolling boil). You also want to avoid reusing any cooking utensils that touched uncooked meat.

Temperature
A meat thermometer is a smart thing to have on hand when grilling. No matter how experienced you are, it doesn’t hurt to double check your grilling skills. Also, be sure not to leave anything raw out for too long. According to the FDA, raw foods should be left out no longer than two-hours.

Kids
Unless it’s an adults-only party, please keep a close eye on the little ones. Try to keep the grill away from the dining and entertaining areas to avoid kids running around the dangerous area.

Owner’s Manual
It’s okay to take a peek at the Owner’s Manual if you need to. It is also a good idea to read the manual before you start using your grill in the first place. It can afford you with helpful information on how to properly use your barbecue grill.

Will you be grilling over the holiday weekend? Do you have any other barbecue tips you would like to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Vine.

To secure your home or business with quality CCTV equipment for low prices, choose SecurityCamExpert.com. Browse our inventory online or call 1-888-203-6294 today!

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