Month: September 2020

10 Home Theft Prevention Tips

1. Keep all your doors and windows locked, even when you’re at home.

Especially when you’re leaving the house, even for just a few minutes, it’s important to check doors and windows to make sure they’re securely locked. Also, be sure each exterior door has a deadbolt lock.


2. Install a home security system.

Remember to always set your alarm when you’re out of the house or asleep for the night. As an additional deterrent, post signs in your yard alerting would-be thieves that your home is protected by a security system.


3. Get to know your neighbors.

When you know the people who live nearby, it will be easier to pick out strangers in your area. You can also think about forming a neighborhood watch group through your local police station to discourage thieves.


4. Don’t hide a key to your home outside.

Instead, give a key to a trusted friend or neighbor. If you must hide a key, keep it in a combination lockbox instead of tucked under a mat or inside a faux rock. Burglars know all the typical outdoor hiding spots for keys.


5. Install motion sensor lighting around your home’s exterior (especially near doorways).

That way, if an intruder attempts to break into your home after dark, the motion sensors will shine a spotlight on them.


6. Keep lights or a radio on when you’re not home.

Most burglars are looking for an empty home, and they’ll probably move on if it sounds like someone’s inside.


7. Secure your vehicle.

If you don’t have a garage, or if you must park in your driveway or on the street, always make sure to lock your car—and never leave valuables inside. Vehicle break-ins can occur even in the safest neighborhoods, and an unlocked car is an easy target.


8. If you have a home safe, bolt it to the floor.

Burglars won’t take the time to break into a safe while they’re in your home, but they are likely to snatch one up if it’s portable and not bolted down.


9. Place a hold on your mail while you’re away.

If you’ll be out of town for more than a couple of days, it’s wise to place a hold on your mail through the USPS Hold Mail service at your local post office. You can make the request online (opens in a new tab) from 1 to 30 days in advance.


10. Make sure you have adequate insurance.

Since the average loss from a home burglary is $2,799, it’s important to have the right amount of homeowners or renters insurance to protect your belongings. In addition, it’s a good idea to have a home inventory to catalog your most important items (including serial numbers for electronics) so that it’s easier to identify what’s missing and its value.


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5 Things Every Parent of a Teen Driver Should Do

Every parent knows the mixed feelings of seeing your child grow into a teenager. You’re happy and proud that they’re becoming more independent and taking on new challenges, but all the while you’re hoping you’ve done everything you could to raise them to be responsible young people. Furthermore, it’s common to have some fear about what they’ll encounter in the world.

This is never more true when your teenager starts to drive. Mile for mile, teen drivers have crash rates nearly four times those of drivers age 20 and older, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Teenagers’ maturity level can lead to speeding and other risky habits, and, as inexperienced drivers, they frequently don’t know how to respond to dangerous situations on the road.

Fortunately, you can help make your teen’s driving habits safer. Here are five steps you can take that are proven to make a difference:

Be supportive and set rules.

Once your teen receives their learner’s permit, be sure to get in the car with them as they practice. You should take this time to offer them guidance, while also setting crucial rules about traveling with passengers and driving at night. State rules vary on night driving and passenger restrictions for teen drivers are surprisingly lax considering the evidence around the hazards, so it’s important to adopt your own rules.

When it comes to passengers, consider that the risk of a fatal crash for a teen driver increases dramatically when passengers are along. When a 16- or 17-year-old is driving with just one passenger under 21, the crash-risk increases 44 percent. It doubles with two passengers under 21 and quadruples with three or more passengers under 21.

The risk of a fatal crash decreases 62 percent when someone 35 or older is in the vehicle. Safety advocates recommend teens should have no passengers for the first six months after getting their license, and it’s even safer if you can make it to a year.

Rules around night driving can save lives, too. The risk for 16- and 17-year-old drivers to be involved in a fatal car crash triples at night. Again, practice and adult supervision can help teens learn to drive safely after the sun sets.

Be sure your teen’s vehicle is safe.

Data shows teenagers often don’t drive the safest vehicles. Usually, they’re driving older vehicles, typically with fewer key safety features, or small cars, which offer less protection in a crash.

If a new model isn’t in your budget, certain used vehicles are recommended for teens.

The IIHS lists the models of affordable, safe used vehicles based on four criteria:

*Avoid high-horsepower because big engines can tempt drivers to test limits.
*Choose bigger, heavier vehicles which offer better protection in crashes. Studies also show that teen drivers are less likely to crash these kinds of vehicles.
*Electronic stability control is a must. This feature helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads—it’s a risk-buster comparable to seat belts.
*Good safety ratings in IIHS tests and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Consider an app or monitoring device.

Multiple phone apps or in-vehicle devices can monitor driving and help you feel more at ease when it comes to your teen’s time on the road. They also provide feedback that can help teens improve their driving. Some apps, such as EverDrive, which is free, let you compete with friends and family for the best driving score, tapping into the competitiveness of popular online gaming.

You can offer incentives such as gift cards for great scores, which are based on driving at or near speed limits and avoiding hard braking, fast acceleration, taking corners quickly and using the phone while driving. Explain to your teen that you trust them—you’re letting them drive after all!—but this is a way to relieve your worry.

Draft a parent-teen driving contract.

Major health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend jointly creating a parent-teen driving agreement. It puts your family’s rules of the road in writing to clearly set expectations and limits. Post it on the fridge and update it as your teen gains experience and more driving privileges.

These organizations make it easy with sample agreements that you can download. They include a list of statements such as: “I drive only when I am alcohol and drug free,” “I will be a passenger only with drivers who are alcohol and drug free” and “I drive only when I have permission to use the car and I will not let anyone else drive the car unless I have permission.”

Create trust and openness.

This is a crucial time to create an environment of mutual trust. It’s an opportunity to let your parenting evolve through listening and being responsive to your child. Fortunately, experts such as those at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offer a wealth of resources for parents, including 54 short video tutorials, a goal guide, and a logging and rating tool to keep your parent-supervised driving lessons on track.

Simply put, teens are safer when you’re involved in guiding their driving habits. The data shows that when you do, they use seat belts nearly twice as often and are half as likely to speed or be in a crash. They’re also 71 percent less likely to drink and drive, and are less likely to text while driving.

Being an involved parent can take the stress out of this coming-of-age moment. Remember, even though teens strive to be independent, they thrive when they know you’re paying attention, creating rules and offering support.


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How to Recognize Phishing Emails

How phishing works

Phishing occurs when a scammer, posing as a trusted company or individual, sends you a legitimate-looking email asking you to confirm or update your information. A link is often provided in the email “for your convenience.” However, the link takes you to a fraudulent website where all of the information you enter—passwords, Social Security numbers, account numbers, etc.—is recorded for the purpose of defrauding you.

Common types of phishing emails

*Asking you to reply with confidential information: Fraudsters commonly send emails that appear to come from a source you know, such as a company you do business with (like your bank or insurer), an online retailer you make purchases from (such as Amazon or the Apple Store), or even a government organization (such as the IRS). In the email, the message asks you to reply with confidential information, such as your account number or Social Security number. Often these emails can be very convincing, with logos, content and supporting links from legitimate sites. Even the “From” address can be masked to make the email look like it’s from a company you trust. Always remember that a legitimate source will never ask you to reply to an email with confidential information.

*Asking you to click on a link: Another common phishing attempt includes a malicious link in the email—but the link looks credible. For example, similar to the scenario above, you could receive an email that appears to be from a trusted source, and the email asks you to click a link to verify your information. The email may express urgency, stating that you need to verify your information as soon as possible because an unauthorized party tried to access your account. However, when you click that link, you’re sent to a fraudulent website that looks like a site you trust. On that page, any information you enter is sent straight to the scammer—without your knowledge.

*Asking you to open an attachment: Phishing email scams may also include an attachment that, when opened, is capable of stealing confidential information from your computer. Just like the two examples above, you could receive an email that looks like it’s from a trusted source, with a message asking you to open the attachment to obtain information about your account. Opening that attachment, however, would give fraudsters access to your email account, contacts and other personal information. If in doubt about opening an attachment received via email, always call or contact the source in a separate channel to verify the attachment’s authenticity.

4 simple rules to help protect yourself

 Keep these four points in mind to better protect yourself against email fraud:

  1. Never send sensitive personal or financial information through email.
  2. Don’t open email attachments unless you trust the source.
  3. Don’t follow links in an email asking for sensitive personal or account information, even if the source looks familiar.
  4. Ask questions. If you’re suspicious, call the company that the email appears to be from, and ask about the message.

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