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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.

Secure Your Wireless Surveillance Cameras

Wireless surveillance cameras are also known as IP (Internet Protocol) cameras. Aside from securing your property inside and out, they are also often used as baby monitors. When used as baby monitors, wireless IP security cameras are often equipped to pick up audio as well as video.

With these cameras, video footage is streamed to a secure online space and you may view what is happening on a computer or via a mobile app or device. To ensure the security of your live feed, these cameras should offer encryption for your streamed data along with a username and password protected hub or app for viewing your footage.

Does your system or equipment lack any of these? Do you want added security for your wireless surveillance cameras? Follow these tips to ensure the most secure experience.

Network Security
Aside from securing your devices, the wireless network you connect to should also be secure. If you are using your home network, make sure your router is configured to use WPA2-based encryption. This will cover the connection between your cameras and router, while the stream’s encryption handles the rest.

You will want to steer clear of viewing your feed over open wireless networks. If you enter any usernames or passwords over these networks, they could potentially be “sniffed,” leaving you vulnerable. While these can be helpful when it comes to decreasing your mobile Internet charges, connecting to these open networks should not be done without the assistance of a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

Online Streaming
Having your camera stream footage online 24/7 can be helpful, but it also leaves you more susceptible to privacy risks. Your ISP may be hesitant to support your excessive bandwidth needs for your IP security cameras, and any bugs in your system could threaten the security of your feed.

Online streaming should only be done when you are certain the stream is secure. For the remainder of the time, maintaining a closed and secure network for your IP cameras on a secure network should suffice.

Password Protection
Cameras usually have the ability to be password protected, but you must manually enable it. Once this feature is enabled, you MUST change the defaults. Since the default usernames and passwords for most cameras are easily to find, this is the easiest way hackers will be able to access your feed.

Aside from ensuring that your cameras are password protected, you should be sure that any device you use to access your feed is password protected as well.  For example, if you access your feed from your mobile device, and somehow it gets lost or stolen, someone may have unauthorized access to your feed, as well as other personal information stored on your device.

Positioning
With all this being said, the location and positioning of your cameras play an important role as well. In the worst case scenario, your feed gets broadcast to the public internet. Be sure that you position your cameras in areas in and around your property that you wouldn’t mind strangers seeing. For example, if you must install a camera in your bedroom, avoid pointing it at your bed or any area where you usually change.

Webcams
You may also be worried about your webcams now, too. While threats may arise from time to time, there are ways to keep your webcam secure, such as disabling Flash, updating firmware, and using firewalls.

If you built a custom IP security camera using webcams, hacking threats should be minimal. You have likely used dedicated, reputable software and taken the time to properly configure and secure your system with a username and password.

Maintain Security
To make sure that you keep your devices secure in the future as well, make sure that you keep any and all devices related to or connected to your system up to date. This includes your camera’s firmware, client software on your PC or mobile device, and more. These updates often contain patches for any new threats, and without the proper update, your system could be left vulnerable to an attack.

How do you secure your surveillance system? Do you have any tips to share with us and your peers? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

For a great selection of IP security cameras, CCTV surveillance packages, and more, visit SecurityCamExpert.com. To speak with a representative about our products and services, please call 1-888-203-6294.

Avoid These Holiday Scams

Spending time with loved ones, presents, the end of the year – There’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to the holidays. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. There’s often an increase in package thefts and scams during the holidays. Luckily, if you play it smart, you can avoid becoming a victim. Here are some holiday scams to look out for this year.

Fake Shipping Notifications Be aware of what you order and take note of sender address, typos, and such. These emails may contain attachments or links which may potentially download malware on your computer or steal your personal information. Like any attachments in your inbox, proceed with caution.

E-Cards If you receive an electronic holiday card, be sure that you can easily identify who it’s from and that you do not have to enter any additional information to access the card. While they seem like a nice sentiment, it could be a ploy to steal your information.

Letters From Santa There are companies that provide personalized letters from Santa, however, there are also scammers who mimic these services to steal your personal information. If you are thinking of using a company, check with the bbb.org first to see if they are legitimate.

Temporary Holiday Jobs If you’re looking for a temp job to gain extra income during the holidays, be sure to apply in person or go to the retailer’s main website. There are listings out there that may require you to share personal information online or even pay for a job lead. If you encounter any of these, consider it a red flag and look elsewhere.

Unusual Forms Of Payment Avoid anyone who asks you to pay with prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These forms of payment cannot be traced nor reversed. Use a credit card (they offer better fraud protection than debit cards) on a secure website. And always look for “https” in the web address (as the “s” is for “secure”) and the lock symbol.

Social Media Gift Exchange If it sounds too good to be true, more often than not, it is. This gift exchange promises 36 gifts in return if you buy one gift. But according to the BBB it is a variation of the pyramid scam and is illegal.

Phony Websites & Apps More and more people are opting for convenience by shopping online or through phone apps. Unfortunately, this makes shoppers more susceptible to fake websites and fake apps. Just because it’s marked with an Amazon or EBay logo doesn’t mean that it’s real. For online shopping, watch out for URLs with the names of popular brands along with extra words.

Bogus Charities Before donating, be sure the charity is real and you are using the proper donating method. Around the holidays, there are scam artists who send emails for fake charities or viral promos. Try these resources to ensure that you safely donate to the charities of your choice: Give.org, Charity Watch, or Internal Revenue Service.

Promotional Emails Pay close attention when you receive any promotional emails. If it is not from a trusted retailer, avoid clicking any links within the email if you open it.

Gift Card Scams There are thieves who copy the numbers off of gift cards in stores and call the number to check if the card is activated. Once it is, they spend the value online and the gift recipient is left with nothing. Also, never buy discounted gift cards online. The seller will keep your money and use the gift card as well.

Package Theft It’s likely that you’ve seen package theft all over the news since the beginning of holiday season. To prevent this, require a signature for your deliveries. If no one will be home during drop off time, arrange to have your package held at the nearest service location for you to pick up at a later time.

We hope these tips help to keep you safe this holiday season. If you have any other pointers, share them with us and your peers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Want to secure your home or business? Shop our selection of security cameras, CCTV surveillance equipment, parts, accessories, and more at SecurityCamExpert.com. Inquire about our free CCTV quotes, sight surveys, installation, and other services by calling 1-888-203-6294.

Improve Your Home Security

Unfortunately, burglaries happen more often than we would like to think. You may think your home is safe and well protected, but when there’s a will, there’s a way. With the proper deterrents, you could keep your home and your loved ones safe. Review your home security and take heed of these security tips.

Door Security
You’ve seen it in the movies and on television many times – a swift kick to the door and it swings right open. The weakest point of your door is where the deadbolt lock inserts into the doorjamb. If your locks are poorly reinforced, a forceful kick is all it takes to get into your home.

To properly reinforce your door, be sure that the screws holding the strike plate in place are at least 3 inches long. The longer the screws are, the better resistance from blunt forces.

Another way to protect your door is to invest in a doorjamb and strike plate reinforcement kits. These affordable kits provide steel guards and steel strike plates for more protection.

Smart Locks
Are you prone to losing, misplacing, or forgetting your keys? Smart locks might be the answer for you. Smart locks allow you to lock and unlock your doors with either a keypad, finger scan, or your mobile device rather than with physical keys. These smart locks can be costly, but they offer convenience and can replace your current locks with minimal effort.

Loud Peel-And-Stick Alarms
If you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative to a complete alarm system, you might want to consider loud door and window alarms. While they do not automatically alert authorities, they will produce a deafening sound to alert you or anyone nearby and scare intruders away.

Patio Doors
Did you ever add extra protection to your patio door by using a bat or a piece of wood to block the sliding track? Well, there’s an easier way to do that now. Patio door locks act like vertical deadbolts for your sliding doors. Some can even be activated by foot so you don’t have to reach down to manually lock and unlock your door.

Secure Your Perimeter
Keep the perimeter of your property neat and trimmed so that burglars can’t hideout behind trees or bushes. Bright lights can also help to prevent burglars from sneaking around. Place motion sensor lights around your property, focusing on poorly lit areas and points of entry. They will turn on when motion is detected, informing you that there is someone outside and will likely startle any potential intruders.

Security Mailbox
Mail theft may be the furthest thing from your mind, but the consequences can be quite severe. Because mailboxes are usually easily accessible, thieves can get a hold of your personal information and possibly steal your identity. Security mailboxes are much like traditional mailboxes, but they are usually made of heavy duty steel and require a key to open and access its contents.

Hide Your Safe
Storing valuables in a safe is smart, but it is also what burglars will look for. Be sure that your safe is always locked and not easily visible. It is also wise to bolt it to the floor in an inconspicuous area. You may even want to cover it with furniture to make it even harder to find.

Indoor Surveillance
Keep an eye on the inside of your home with indoor security cameras. You can go for a simple and inexpensive webcam, or opt for a more advanced security camera with features like night vision or high resolution.

For a great selection of security cameras and surveillance equipment, visit us online or give us a call at 1-888-203-6294.

Want to share your own security tips with us and your peers? Find us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Burglary Prevention Tips from SecurityCamExpert.com

As the holiday season rolls in, safety and security become a higher priority. Expensive gifts and holiday vacations are just some of the reasons your property becomes a prime target. Don’t fall victim to an unfortunate and preventable burglary. Follow these tips on how to protect your home while you’re away.

Don’t let intruders know you’re away.

Find ways to make your home look occupied while you’re away. If you’ll be travelling, don’t advertise it. Be wary of what you post on social media sites, as thieves may pose as your “friends.” Have a trusted neighbor or friend pick up your mail rather than stopping it. If you have a landline, turn the ringer down so people won’t hear your calls going unanswered. If possible, set timers on your lights to mimic normal patterns of use.

Make it difficult to break in.

Be sure to lock all windows and doors, and never leave a spare key outside where it can easily be found. Consider reinforcing your locks and doors to help prevent a successful forceful entry. With sliding doors, use a metal or wooden rod along the track as extra defense against intruders. You may also want to think about using an invisible security film to strengthen your windows or glass panes. Trees should be trimmed and ladders should be locked up to prevent climbing to a second story or roof for alternate entry.

Avoid easy hiding areas around your property.

Trees, bushes, and shrubs make it easy for burglars to hide. If you must use plants around your home, thorny plants or bushes can aid protection. Utilize outdoor lighting for driveways, yards, and entrances. Motion sensor lights can scare potential burglars away. Being easily seen and caught is discouraging for them.

Neighbors and friends can be the best allies.

Get to know your neighbors so you can look out for each other. If you’re not as close to your neighbors, have a close friend keep an eye on your place or check in from time to time. Rest easy knowing a simple call or text will keep you in the loop.

Install a home security camera system.

If your budget permits, installing security cameras and a home alarm system can pose as an efficient deterrent to criminals. With visible security cameras and/or noticeable home alarm signs posted outside, burglars will often back off and try to find an easier target. Most security cameras also enable remote viewing from different devices, allowing you to check in on your live feed while you’re away.

Have you employed any of these tactics? How did they work for you? Do you have any tips to add? Share your ideas and experiences with us! Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest , and Twitter.

Your safety and security is important to us. From now until Halloween, we have a special security camera system bundle on sale. Give us a call at 1-888-203-6294 to place your order. You can also visit us online at SecurityCamExpert.com for your security and surveillance needs.

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