7 Safety Tips for Seniors

Family, home, and property are important to everyone. As we get older, sometimes it becomes difficult to feel confident that we can protect what’s dear to us. Whether due to mobility, health or a feeling of vulnerability, Senior Citizens can be safer and feel more confident to handle unforeseen circumstances if they follow these seven tips

Always check your home for signs of intrusion, before entering. If you notice your bushes/flowers trampled around the windows, a broken window, open door, or your garage door up – back away and call the police, let them check out the premises before you enter. They will be happy to help.

Furnish your home with doors constructed of metal or solid wood with a peephole so you can see out. Also, ensure your doors have deadbolts and protective security glass with privacy film if there is decorative glass near the door.

Add security film to large windows: Plexiglass or security film can make it more difficult for burglars to break-in. They are safer and often deter burglars from using windows as an entry point.

Never answer the door if you can’t see who is there. Never feel pressured to answer the door as they will leave a message or call if it is important. And always ask to see an ID BEFORE opening the door. For burglaries, nothing is easier than pushing right through an open door. Simply opening your door a crack to speak to a person on the other side may be all they need to get in and ransack your home and injure those inside.

Always keep a phone close by and make sure you have 911 on speed dial. When driving up to your home, answering the door, in the bathroom or moving from room to room, always have a phone nearby. If you hear a noise or feel threatened, stay put and immediately call 911 – speak loudly so potential intruders can hear you calling for help.

Leave valuable items out of sight. Never leave items such as laptops, tablets, purse/wallet, jewelry, or checkbooks where they can be easily seen from a window or door. Put them out of sight when answering the door. Keep them in a closet safe or fireproof lockbox when you are not using them. 

Additionally – consider an automated home security system customized for your needs. It is not expensive and can save your life, or at minimum ease your mind and keep you connected. You’ll want to choose the features that fit your situation. Here are some helpful options to consider:

  • Alert necklace or bracelet: In an emergency, your phone or alarm keypad may be too far away to reach safely and quickly. Using an alert necklace or bracelet, you can call for help without moving from where you are.
  • Medical alert:  Seniors can get help right away using an alert necklace or bracelet if they fall or have another serious medical incident rather than waiting to be found or struggling to reach a phone.
  • Automation and sensors: Getting an automated system means you can program the thermostat settings, lights and door locks on a timed schedule, relieving seniors from having to remember or move around the home multiple times a day to do these routine tasks. 
  • With remote access, active Seniors can check on their property (for example, to check if they remembered to close the garage door) or get alerts when something goes awry.
  • A smart video doorbell camera allows you to see, hear, and speak to the visitor at your door. Your exposure is minimized because you can have a conversation remotely without opening the door. Request the individual leave the package or information and after they leave at your convenience you can retrieve it.

Remote automation can also be set-up so caregivers, family members or security/medical personnel can monitor the activities and safety of Seniors at home. For example, a sensor on the medicine cabinet or a camera in the kitchen could be an unobtrusive way for the caregiver to remotely monitor key  activities.

 

At Secur-Tek, we take the time to understand your needs and help you design the system that is right for you. We also take the time to show you how it works until you are comfortable and confident in how it operates.

Thank you for reading these tips. If you are a Senior Citizen or are caring for elderly parents or relatives, please give us a call at (919)387-1800 so we can discuss how we can help!

Four Tips for Safer Online Shopping

Computer and mobile device users are always at risk of being hacked, scammed, and phished, but when the holidays arrive, scammers have even more opportunity to target online shoppers to trick people into giving up their personal information, including bank account or credit card data.

You probably have heard the term “phishing” used on the radio, news or in conversations with friends or colleagues. Your first thought might have gone to that five-pound bass that has alluded you for so long. But then you realize they are talking about online security.

What exactly is “phishing”?

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

How can this impact you?

According to Norton™, 972 million consumers were victims of hacker attacks in 2017. This type of crime is increasingly common and during the holiday season, when individuals are more likely to surf and shop the web for gifts, it gives thieves the perfect opportunity to try and “lure” you into giving up valuable information.

Four tips to help you protect yourself:

 1) When in doubt, check it out.

Never click on a link in an email or text unless you’re positive it’s safe. Instead, go to the site yourself (by typing the URL into your browser or using a bookmark you’ve saved previously) and log into your account by hand.

Scammers usually try to pretend to be a site, store or service that you are familiar with. They can make an email or website look almost identical to the ones you are used to seeing. Always inspect the logos, email addresses, headers, text, and content of messages before clicking on anything. Upon close inspection, simple abnormalities such as a misspelling or extra line in a logo can tip you off.   

2) Carefully inspect and check website domain names

Hover over the link — if it doesn’t match the domain name you have seen when using the legitimate website, do not click!  For example, if you receive a special offer from greatwalmartoffers.biz instead of Walmart.com there probably is something “phishy” about it and it’s possibly a scam.

3) Make sure merchant websites are secure

A valid retailer will use a secure protocol – HTTPS – because it includes encryption and authentication that keeps the information shared between your computer and the website private, improving security against certain types of attacks. If you have any doubts about the company itself, a Google search can reveal if it’s legitimate (and it’s ratings).

To tell whether a website is secured with HTTPS, all major web browsers indicate this with an icon to the left of the site’s URL.  Google Chrome also notes “Not secure” on insecure sites.

If you are purchasing or sharing personal information, look for a locked padlock icon that shows they are using the most current security mechanisms, indicating that your shopping sessions are encrypted and secure.

Ensuring that a site has HTTPS might not be as important if you are researching or reading an informational blog that doesn’t request any of your information, but it is extremely important if you’re planning to buy something and provide your payment card information or log in with your username and password. 

4) Check out the deals!

Your parents might have told you that you don’t get anything for free – well, to some extent that is true, so always be extra careful when ads profess to give you a deal that seems extreme or too good to be true! So many stores are giving double coupon rates, Black Friday / Cyber Monday time-sensitive deals and other “sensational giveaways” that we come to expect ridiculous savings. If something looks that good and you are interested, independently research the seller’s website and check on the legitimacy of the offer. Emails, pop-up windows, social media ads or even texts that claim crazy discounts, freebies or promotions can easily lead you to fake e-commerce sites specifically designed to get your information.

Finally, always take your time and be patient when contemplating clicking on a “deal” or “promotion”. Scammers count on you making quick decisions and hurrying through the purchasing process. They often do this by wording the “phishing” so you feel pressured to react quickly. Examples are things like: only 3 items left, 2 hours left, your package has been delayed please respond, or urgent – your credit card information needs updating for your purchase to go through.

Bottom line:  always take time to check out promos or time-sensitive information requests at the service providers website/source – in the long run it may save you a great deal of trouble, time and money.  

And of course – keep your devices’ security/protection software updated.

Wishing you a safe, secure and Happy Holidays from Secur-Tek Inc!

Hello, Is Anyone There? The Scoop on Scams and Ghost Calls

 

How many times a day do you get phone calls, but when you answer, nobody is there?

It probably goes something like this – the phone rings, you pick it up and say “Hello” but nobody answers. This is often termed a “ghost call”, and they can be annoying.

To fix this, you stop answering calls from distant area codes. You check before answering to see if you recognize the number and it looks like the caller is local. But it’s another ghost call!  This is called ‘Caller ID Spoofing” – that’s when a caller deliberately falsifies the phone number on your caller display. Scammers have ways to make these incoming calls look like numbers similar to yours – sometimes by showing a caller ID that starts with your local area code – to entice you to pick up the call.

 

Who is making these ghost calls?   

As it turns out, although nobody answers your “Hello”, there probably is “someone” on the other end of the line: an automated computer system that’s calling your number — and tens of thousands of others — to build a list of live targets for theft.

That initial call you get, with silence on the other end, is the first reconnaissance call that scammers do. They’re trying to see if the number they are calling is associated with a human on the other end. If you even cough, it knows you are there.

The next step for them is to attempt to gather personal information like your bank or credit card account number, date of birth, Social Security Number, credit score etc. They often do this by giving you a call with a prerecorded voice. For example, “We’re calling with an important message about your debit card. If you are the cardholder please stay on the line and press 1. Otherwise, please have the cardholder call us at 1-877…”

 

Don’t call them back!

Another reason you may be getting the call with no response is when calls are part of a massive, international scam called “Wangiri” which is a Japanese word that means “one cut”. The scamming companies rely on people calling the numbers back in order to make money. “This is basically a mobile premium scam, what happens is somebody calls you, lets the phone ring once and they do it multiple times,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Delia Rickard told Hack News. “If you call them back, you may be charged a premium. Much of the revenue from these calls go to the scammer.”

 

So with all these calls targeting you, what can you do about it?

1stDon’t pick-up or answer a call unless you recognize the number or are expecting a call at that particular moment. No one is going to call with an emergency and then not leave a message. Most “unknown” calls are from bill collectors, scammers, harassment or wrong numbers. Since it is your phone and it is for your convenience then you can choose when you answer it and when you do not.

 

2nd – If you do pick up accidentally – Just Hang Up

The FTC is trying to combat the rising number of illegal automated phone calls. “It is the No. 1 consumer complaint that we receive,” says Patty Hsue, an attorney who leads the FTC’s effort against robocalls. The agency receives an average of 170,000 complaints per month about robocalls”, she related to  NPR’s Audie Cornish. The FTC recommends that consumers “just hang up” on the robocalls.

“We don’t want consumers to engage in any way with robocallers,” Hsue says. “A lot of times when you get a robocall you have the option of pressing 1 for more information or pressing 2 to ask to be removed from the list. In either case, pressing 1 or 2 basically lets the robocaller know that it’s a live person on the other line who’s willing to engage and that most probably will lead to additional robocalls.”

 

3rd – If you think it may be a legitimate call, hang up and then check the website of the organization calling. Use the website contact number to talk with a service representative. If you can’t find a website, then check the number online and see if it is reported as a scam.

 

Safety tips on handling Robo or “Ghost” calls from the FTC:

  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, social security numbers, a mother’s maiden name, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
  • Use extreme caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password. 
  • If you receive a call and you suspect caller ID information has been falsified, or you think the rules for protecting the privacy of your telephone number have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FTC. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

 

How do I stop telemarketers and scammers?

The first thing to do is immediately block the caller number. You can also register your numbers with the national Do Not Call list at no cost. The national Do Not Call list protects both landline and wireless phone numbers. You can register your numbers by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY) or https://www.donotcall.gov

 

Robo, telemarketers and “Ghost” calls are not only an inconvenience, they can also be extremely damaging if you don’t handle them correctly. Please take the time to check the number before answering and remind your family and friends to do the same!

 

Secur-Tek, Inc. is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, USA, offering home security, business security,  access control, monitoring,  audio, and central vacuum systems. Our service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro in North Carolina.

If you live in our service area, please contact us at 919-387-1800 or fill out the form below to schedule an appointment.  We’ve been providing peace of mind to customers for over 20 years!

Sources: Much of the information presented in this blog was originated by, NPR, Hack and the FTC.

Online Safety – 6 Tips for You, Your Family and Friends

security online

Just as it is a good idea to secure your home, you should ensure your safety online.

With hacks, scams, malware and identity theft, the Internet poses multiple risks.

The good news is, by taking a handful of security precautions you can greatly reduce your exposure to online threats.

 

1) Keep your network updated.

Are the operating systems of your equipment up to date? Check to make sure you have the latest security updates installed. This includes computers, antivirus software and your router.  Check to see if your router uses a WPA2 password. WEB passwords are older and insecure.

2) Change your passwords periodically.

Set a reminder to change your important passwords. Also, be sure to change any default passwords that come with equipment when installed. That includes wireless doorbells, security codes, and routers.

3) Practice email safety.

Malware and scams are looking for a way into your computer.

  • If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open it.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links, even if the email appears to be from someone or an organization that you know – their email could be hacked, or it could be a phishing site.   When in doubt, send them a separate email or contact them another way and ask if they sent the message. If it is not from them, they will appreciate knowing about it!

4) Research before you download.

That new streaming service or third-party software ad might look good, but a quick web search to verify legitimacy and check user reviews can prevent many headaches later.

5) Check your credit.

Set up notifications so you know if any changes are made to your accounts.

6) Be a Selective Sharer. 

Social Media creates many opportunities to share our personal information online. Be cautious about what you share, particularly when it comes to information that could be potentially used to impersonate you or compromise your passwords and logins.

 

Looking for more security tips?  Follow the Secur-Tek Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SecurTekNC

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