Tips for Thanksgiving Cooking Safety

You know it’s fall when the smell of roasted turkey, stuffing and all things pumpkin fill the air. Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of many; however, heightened safety risks associated with the feast can foil your plans. Follow these three tips to keep your loved ones safe this Thanksgiving.

1. Understand Food Prep Safety

When a meal is the center of the festivity, you better be sure it’s prepared safely. Foodborne pathogens are a risk during the holiday. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever.

An unclean or cluttered kitchen, coupled with improper sanitary food prep standards, can put you and your family at risk.

To maintain food prep best practices:

  • Thaw poultry in the refrigerator. When poultry is stored in warm places, such as out on the counter, foodborne bacteria can multiply quickly.
  • Thoroughly wash hands, cooking instruments, and surfaces that come into contact with raw meat.
  • Heat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Contain contamination. Use separate cutting boards for meat versus non-meat food items.
  • Use or freeze leftovers within three to four days.

2. Prevent Kitchen Fires

Putting together a Thanksgiving meal can be tricky. You’re preparing so many foods that it can be easy to lose track and let something cook too long, which is a fire risk. The below pointers can help:

  • Write out a cooking schedule. Include what time you will put each dish on the stove or in the oven.
  • Label timers — either with built-in technology functionality or a post-it note. This will help you keep track of what timer correlates with which dish.
  • Do not leave your kitchen unattended while food cooks. An unattended stove or oven is a recipe for disaster.
  • Follow cooking safety protocols. Deep-fried turkey has become a popular tradition for many families. Be sure you have the right equipment, attire and safety precautions in place for this or any unique cooking method.

Most importantly, test your smoke/fire detectors to ensure that they are working properly. If something goes wrong, you and the local fire department will be alerted immediately.

3. Keep Kids Safe

If your kids have a tendency to wander around the kitchen, take extra precautions to ensure their safety.

  • Turn pot and pan handle toward the back of the stove, so that nothing is accidentally reached for or pulled down.
  • Ensure kids are always supervised by an adult in the kitchen.
  • If helping cook, teach children proper kitchen hygiene — i.e. to sneeze or cough away from food, to wipe hands on a paper towel instead of a dishtowel, and to wash hands between each task.

We’re here to help

If you do experience a fire or medical emergency on Thanksgiving, remember: Boyd & Associates is here for you 24/7, and that includes holidays!

Don’t have a Boyd & Associates professionally monitored fire alarm system? Call us today to speak with one of our security experts.

Fall in California: A Season of Beauty & Safety

As California’s landscapes transform into mesmerizing shades of gold and amber, the cool whispers of Fall usher in a sense of renewal. This season is not just about pumpkin lattes and cozy sweaters; it’s also a poignant reminder to refocus our energies on the safety of our cherished homes. Join Boyd & Associates as we guide you through ways to enhance your home’s security this autumn.

Shorter Days, Brighter Lights

As the days become noticeably shorter, the need for adequate outdoor lighting becomes paramount. Ensure your lighting system effectively illuminates entrances, pathways, and any shadowy corners. A well-lit exterior can deter potential intruders.

Vacation Mode On

Planning a relaxing Fall escape to California’s scenic mountains or its breathtaking coast? Before you leave, activate your home alarm system. Inform trusted neighbors of your plans, so they can be extra vigilant in your absence.

Window Wisdom

The allure of the crisp Fall air is undeniable. As you open windows to invite that freshness in, always remember to securely lock them when stepping out or settling down for the night.

Fire Safety First

The comforting glow of a fireplace is synonymous with Fall. However, it’s vital to ensure all smoke detectors in your home are in working order. Consider integrating them with your Boyd & Associates security system to receive immediate alerts should any issues arise.

Tech Tune-Up

Autumn is an opportune time to review and refresh. Update your security software and check that your surveillance cameras and security systems are operating on the most recent firmware. Stay ahead of potential threats.

Yard Vigilance

A pile of fallen leaves might seem harmless, but it can hide tripping hazards or even provide cover for unwelcome guests. Regular yard maintenance not only enhances your home’s aesthetic but its safety too.

Safeguarded Deliveries

As we inch closer to the festive holiday season, package deliveries will surge. Implement security cameras and alert systems to monitor your deliveries, ensuring they remain untouched and secure until you retrieve them.

In the heart-stopping beauty that is a Californian Fall, Boyd & Associates remains steadfast in our commitment to your safety. Embrace the season’s splendor, and trust in us to keep your home a sanctuary of security and serenity.

Reach out to Boyd & Associates today, and let’s make this Fall the safest one yet for you and your family.

Geo-Fencing: Not Just For Pets Anymore – Ensuring Your Kids’ Safety with Boyd & Associates

When many of us think of geo-fencing, our minds might automatically jump to those invisible boundaries set for our furry friends. But did you know that geo-fencing technology has evolved, and its applications have grown far beyond our pets? Boyd & Associates is here to tell you how you can utilize geo-fencing to ensure your kids’ safety, giving you added peace of mind.

What is Geo-fencing?

Geo-fencing is a technology that sets up virtual boundaries around a particular location. Whenever a device enters or leaves this predefined zone, an alert is generated. While it has been popularly used for pets, companies like us have recognized its immense potential for child safety.

Geo-fencing for Kids: A Parent’s New Best Friend

The modern world is bustling, and as parents, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. The question of our children’s safety when they are not under our direct supervision can be a constant source of anxiety.

Enter the world of geo-fencing for kids. By setting up specific zones, like school, home, or a friend’s house, you can receive real-time alerts whenever your child enters or leaves these zones. Imagine the relief of knowing:

  • Your child has safely arrived at school every morning without having to call the school office.
  • They’ve made it back home in the afternoon, even if you’re still at work.
  • If they’ve visited a friend’s house after school, you’ll know.

Why Choose Boyd & Associates?

With years of experience in security and surveillance solutions, Boyd & Associates is a trusted name when it comes to the safety of your loved ones. Our commitment to using cutting-edge technology means we always offer the best solutions to our clients.

Here’s why our geo-fencing solutions stand out:

  1. User-Friendly Interface: Easily set up and modify boundaries with our intuitive system.
  2. Instant Alerts: Receive timely notifications on your preferred device.
  3. Accurate & Reliable: Our system ensures pinpoint accuracy, minimizing false alerts.
  4. Privacy First: We prioritize your privacy. Your data is encrypted, and the information is solely for your access.

Geo-fencing isn’t just for pets anymore. As parents, our children’s safety is paramount. With Boyd & Associates, you can rest assured, knowing that modern technology is working to keep your kids safe. Whether they’re headed to school, visiting friends, or coming home, you’ll always be in the know. Embrace the future of child safety and enjoy that invaluable peace of mind.

For more information about our geo-fencing solutions or any other security needs, reach out to Boyd & Associates today. Your family’s safety is our top priority.

Earthquake Preparedness in California: Staying Ready in Shake Territory

Californians know all too well that they live in one of the world’s most seismically active regions. With the San Andreas Fault, among others, slicing through large parts of the state, earthquakes are a natural, albeit unsettling, part of life. Preparing for these inevitable events is essential for personal safety and property protection. In this blog, we’ll outline steps to enhance your earthquake preparedness in the Golden State.

Understanding the Risk

The first step in preparedness is understanding. Recognize that in California, no place is entirely immune to earthquakes. Some regions may experience them more frequently or with greater intensity, but the risk is statewide.

Building an Earthquake-Ready Home:

  1. Secure Heavy Items: Anchor bookcases, refrigerators, and other tall or heavy furniture to walls to prevent them from toppling.
  2. Flexible Fittings: Use flexible connections where gas lines meet appliances. This flexibility can reduce the risk of a gas leak.
  3. Safe Spacing: Avoid placing heavy objects on high shelves and keep breakables in closed cabinets with latches.
  4. Inspect Your Home: Regularly check the foundation, roof, and walls for cracks or weaknesses. If you identify any structural issues, consult a professional.

Preparing an Emergency Kit:

Ensure you have an emergency kit specifically tailored for earthquakes, containing:

  • Water (a gallon per person per day for at least three days)
  • Non-perishable food
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A first aid kit
  • Essential medications
  • A multi-tool or Swiss army knife
  • Copies of personal identification and important documents
  • Cash in small denominations (ATMs might be out of service)
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • Sturdy gloves to protect your hands while moving debris

Safety First During an Earthquake:

  1. Drop, Cover, and Hold On: Drop to your hands and knees, cover your head and neck (and your entire body if possible) under a sturdy table or desk, and hold on until the shaking stops.
  2. Stay Indoors: If you’re inside, stay there. Many injuries occur when people enter or exit buildings.
  3. Stay Away from Windows: Glass can shatter and cause injuries.
  4. If Driving: Pull over to a safe spot, away from overpasses, bridges, power lines, and trees. Remain in the vehicle until the shaking stops.

Post-Earthquake Measures:

  1. Check for Injuries: Before you do anything, ensure you and your loved ones are okay. Provide first aid as necessary.
  2. Expect Aftershocks: These smaller tremors can follow the main quake. Be ready for them.
  3. Inspect Your Home: Check for gas leaks, damaged electrical wires, and structural damage. If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the main gas supply and evacuate.
  4. Listen to the Radio: Battery-operated or hand-crank radios can provide emergency updates when the power is out.
  5. Communicate: Have an emergency communication plan with family members. Texting may work even if voice calls don’t.
  6. Evacuate if Necessary: If your home is unsafe, get everyone out. Use your emergency supplies or go to a designated public shelter.

Living in California comes with its unique set of challenges, especially when it concerns natural disasters like earthquakes. However, with the right level of preparation and awareness, you can greatly increase your chances of weathering the next big quake with minimal harm. Remember, preparedness is not just a one-time task but a continuous process of learning and adapting. Stay safe, and stay prepared!

Keeping Your Emergency Kit Up-to-Date: Why, How, and When

The world is ever-changing, and so are the emergencies we might face. While we all hope never to be in a dire situation, it’s essential to be prepared. This means not only having an emergency kit but also ensuring it’s current and functional. Below, we discuss why, how, and when to update your emergency kit.

Why Keep Your Emergency Kit Updated?

  1. Shelf Life: Many items in an emergency kit, especially food and water, have expiration dates. Consuming expired products can be harmful and counterproductive during a crisis.
  2. Changing Needs: As families grow, shrink, or face different challenges (e.g., medical conditions), the supplies in the emergency kit might need adjustment.
  3. Advancements in Technology: Newer, more effective tools and devices become available that can better assist in emergencies.
  4. Weather and Seasonal Changes: The requirements for an emergency during winter are different from those in summer.

How to Update Your Emergency Kit:

  1. Inventory Check: At least once a year, make it a habit to go through each item in your kit. Check expiration dates and ensure everything is in working order.
  2. Stay Informed: Follow updates from local and national emergency management organizations. They often provide insights into the latest recommended items.
  3. Rotate Food and Water: Replace expired food items with fresh supplies, and make sure to store items that can last longer and provide ample nutrition. Similarly, store water in clean containers and refresh the supply regularly.
  4. Update Personal Documents: Ensure copies of personal identification, medical records, bank account details, and other essential documents are current. Store them in waterproof containers.
  5. Consider Power Sources: Battery-operated devices might need new batteries. Think about incorporating solar-powered chargers or portable power banks as backup.
  6. Medication Review: If you or any of your family members are on medication, ensure that you have an adequate, up-to-date supply.
  7. Customize for Your Needs: Adjust your kit based on the specific needs of your family members, including pets. For example, babies might need diapers, while elderly members might require specific care items.
  8. Educate and Train: New family members or changes in your living situation mean it’s time to review emergency procedures and educate everyone on the contents and use of the emergency kit.

When to Update:

  1. Seasonal Changes: As seasons change, so do potential emergencies. Adjust your kit accordingly.
  2. After Every Use: If you use your emergency kit, restock and replace items as soon as possible.
  3. Major Life Changes: Moving homes, the birth of a child, or health diagnoses can all warrant a review of your emergency kit.
  4. Annually: At a minimum, review and update your emergency kit once a year. Some people choose to do this at the beginning of a new year, while others might pick a specific date that’s easy to remember.

While it’s crucial to have an emergency kit, it’s equally vital to keep it up-to-date. Regular check-ins and updates will ensure that if the unexpected occurs, you and your loved ones have the best chance of staying safe and sound.

An Emerging Threat: How to Protect Yourself from “Juice Jacking”

For so many, our smartphones, tablets, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become an integral part of our daily routines. These handy gadgets keep us connected and productive. However, alongside these technological advancements, cybercriminals have also upped their game, continuously seeking new ways to exploit unsuspecting users.

One such threat which has recently emerged is known as “Juice Jacking.” It’s more common than you think and has only been around since the early 2010s. In this article, we will delve into the threat of Juice Jacking, understand its course of action, highlight the associated risks, and most importantly, equip you with practical tips to safeguard your devices.

What is Juice Jacking?

Juice Jacking is a term used to describe the malicious act of compromising public charging stations or USB ports to gain unauthorized access to your devices. The term was first coined by a group of researchers who created a fake kiosk and displayed it at a cybersecurity convention to bring awareness about this potential threat.

Today, these counterfeit charging stations are commonly found in bustling areas like airports, shopping malls, and other public spaces, masquerading as innocent power sources. They’re often positioned next to public charging stations/ports. Unsuspecting victims who are eager to recharge their devices unknowingly fall into the trap. When connecting their devices to these compromised charging stations, they expose their data to potential theft.

The Risks of Juice Jacking

We’ve all been in public before with our smartphones on 1% desperately searching for a place to get a quick charge. It may seem worth the risk to opt for a public charging station if that’s your only option. However, the repercussions of falling victim to Juice Jacking can be severe and far-reaching. Here are some of the risks associated with this nefarious practice:

  • Data Theft: When connected to a compromised charging station, cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in your device’s software to gain unauthorized access. They can then extract your personal information, such as passwords, financial data, or sensitive documents. The aftermath of a data theft can be emotionally distressing and financially devastating.
  • Malware Installation: In addition to stealing your data, malicious actors may also inject your device with malware during the Juice Jacking process. Installation of malware can render your device vulnerable to further attacks, compromise its performance, or even grant unauthorized access to your device by remote hackers. The worst part, you may not even know if someone has downloaded malware onto your device as it can secretly embeds itself stealing critical information undetected.

Tips for Preventing Juice Jacking

Fortunately, there are some preventative measures you can take to safeguard your devices when your battery is low in public:

 

  • Carry a Personal Charging Port: Investing in a portable power bank or carrying your own charger gives you control over your device’s charging process. By relying on your own power source, you eliminate the need to use potentially compromised public charging stations.
  • Opt for Wall Outlets: Whenever possible, choose wall outlets over public USB ports. Wall outlets are generally less susceptible to compromise and offer a more secure charging experience.
  • Update Devices’ Software: Regularly updating your devices’ software is vital. Software updates often include security patches that address known vulnerabilities, making it harder for cybercriminals to exploit your device.
  • Use VPN on Public Wi-Fi: If you need to connect to the internet while charging your device in public, use a reputable virtual private network (VPN) service. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, enhancing your online privacy and security.

Always Keep Personal Security Top of Mind

Remember, safeguarding our personal information and digital devices is an ongoing process. By staying informed, implementing security best practices, and investing in robust home security measures, we can create a safer and more secure digital environment for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s make security a top priority, both on the go and within the comfort of our homes. Learn more by contacting us today.

How To Tell If A Rental Listing Is Legitimate

Con artists are capitalizing on the competitive real estate market by running rental scams designed to drain money from both prospective renters and trusting landlords.

Within the last year, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) have issued warnings about this fraud type.

How much are Americans losing to real estate and rental scams? According to the FBI, losses have been steadily increasing. In 2021, the amount lost was more than $350 million — up 64 percent from the previous year.

If you have a move on the horizon, we’ve got you covered with tips to avoid rental scams. Or, if you’re a landlord or homeowner advertising a rental, learn how to tell if a potential renter is actually a scammer.

How rental scams work

Imagine finding a perfect apartment or house in your price range. Then, you hear that dozens of other people are interested too. Not wanting to miss your chance, you quickly fill out the application even if you can’t see the property in person.

It’s typical for rental applications to ask for personally identifiable information (PII), such as your Social Security number and payment information for the security deposit, so you share your details.

But then, you never hear back from the landlord. Unfortunately, this is how it often goes for victims of rental scams.

These bogus listings can be hard to spot. Scammers often steal photos and descriptions from legitimate real estate sites.

But there are a few tells you can look out for.

Scammers often rely on urgency (“You need to send us a wire transfer right now to secure this home”) or lies (“I’m in the hospital so I can’t show you the property”) to manipulate the victim into acting quickly — before they’ve had time to think it through.

Rental scams may affect landlords, too 

Landlords are also frequently targeted by rental scams.

This can happen when a scammer responds to a legitimate listing, pretending to be a prospective tenant eager to secure a lease. Often without touring the property, the scammer agrees to fill out an application and pay the security deposit via check.

In some cases, the scammer will write that check for more than the necessary amount, then ask the landlord to return the surplus to them via a peer-to-peer payment app, prepaid credit card, or wire transfer.

In other cases, the fraudster sends a check, then claims to have to back out of the lease due to an emergency, and asks the landlord to pay the money back.

The trouble is, the fraudulent check they sent will bounce a few days later, and the landlord will be out any money they “returned.”

How to avoid rental scams

Now that you’re alert to this type of fraud, you can better avoid falling victim.

Our identity specialists help our members identify and fight back against fraud, so they’ve seen all kinds of scams play out, including rental scams.

To stay safe, try these rental scam safety tips:

If you’re a prospector renter: 

  • Avoid renting a property sight unseen. Wondering how to tell if a rental is legitimate? See it for yourself. Even if the landlord or agent gives a believable excuse as to why they can’t take you on a tour, always err on the side of caution. If you are searching for a rental from a different city or state, consider finding a trusted friend or a licensed real estate agent to tour a property on your behalf in order to confirm its legitimacy.
  • Research current rental rates in the area. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. When a listing is priced way cheaper — or for far less than you’d expect after seeing the photos — it could be a sign of a scam. 
  • Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics. If you’re feeling rushed or pressured to share personal or financial information, just walk away — there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a scammer.
  • Work with a professional. “Use a legitimate real estate website or real estate agent to find your rental,” advises Krentz. Keep in mind that anyone can post on classified sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, so there are fewer guard rails on those sites. 
  • Look up the address, description, and images of a listing online. “Many scammers take photos and listings from legitimate real estate sites and post them as their own, but with a lower rent price,” says Krentz. If you notice a rental is listed in multiple places, and one of those listings has spelling errors, wrong capitalization, or bad grammar, it may be a sign of fraud.
  • Never pay a deposit via wire transfer, prepaid gift card, or peer-to-peer payment app. These forms of payment do not typically have the same fraud protections credit cards have and, in the case of a scam, the money usually can’t be returned to the victim.

If you’re a landlord:

  • Try to avoid renting to someone willing to lease a property sight unseen. This may be a red flag that you’re working with a scammer. 
  • Never accept a check from a new renter that’s made out for more than they owe. Don’t deposit the check; instead, return it to the sender. If someone sends you a check but then asks for that money back, be sure the check clears the bank before you return the payment. If it doesn’t, you’ll know you were working with a scammer. 

Other real estate scams to watch out for 

Real estate scammers also use a variety of other tactics to steal your money and personal information.

For example, in a foreclosure scam, a fraudster may promise to lower a homeowner’s mortgage or “save” their home from foreclosure for an upfront fee (then don’t deliver).

If you’re ever having trouble covering your mortgage, steer clear of companies that charge a fee to help consolidate or cover your loan. Instead, seek help from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the BBB, moving scams also cost Americans hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2021 — a 216 percent uptick from 2020.

In this scam, moving companies underquote then overcharge victims in the middle of a move (sometimes holding their belongings hostage until they pay an exorbitant fee). Or, they may demand payment upfront and then never follow through with their services.

One of the best ways to ensure you’re working with a credible moving company is to ask friends and family for referrals. Or, opt for a company that is open to sharing proof of registration and insurance, has positive online reviews, and completes an on-site inspection prior to moving day to provide an accurate quote. 

How to report a rental scam

If you’re a Boyd Identity Protection member and you think you’ve fallen victim to a rental scam, give us a call right away.

Our customer care team is here to walk you through the next steps to try to recover any stolen assets. 

If you’re not a member, we recommend reporting the scam to your local law enforcement, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, BBB, and FBI.

 

How Do Identity Thieves Get Your Information?

In this digital age, some identity thieves go to extraordinary lengths to steal personal information.

Many of the tactics they use are highly sophisticated, from hijacking phones from afar to creating false identities with just a few pieces of real information. Other methods for stealing personal details — such as mail theft — are less high-tech but no less concerning.

When it comes to protecting your identity, understanding what you’re up against is a good first step. So, let’s take an in-depth look at what identity thieves look for when trying to steal your data.

Plus, learn how our features — like credit monitoring alerts and dark web monitoring — can help you act quickly to minimize the damage if your details fall into the wrong hands.

Data Breaches

Unfortunately, data breaches and their fallout have become all too common. With incidents happening at such a rapid pace, it’s no wonder so many consumers suffer from “breach fatigue.”

So what’s causing these information leaks, and what can you do to safeguard your data?

You may be surprised to learn that most security incidents are actually accidents caused by human negligence or error. According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breaches Investigations Report, 82% of data breaches analyzed over the past year included a human element.

Other breaches are the result of targeted attacks by cybercriminals. These attacks aren’t limited to big corporations; small businesses can also have data stores that are attractive to criminals. That’s one reason why it’s important to keep tabs on all of the places where your data is stored, including what businesses or services you have an account with.

What do identity thieves look for with these attempts?

If your personal or financial information is made public in a breach, cybercriminals might be interested in putting it up for sale on the dark web. From there, your details could be used to commit fraud or identity theft. Or, your information could be blended with other victims’ information to create a brand-new false identity, a type of fraud known as synthetic identity theft.

That’s one reason why we created our dark web monitoring tool. Once it’s enabled, you can enter your details for monitoring, and we’ll alert you if we find your information somewhere it doesn’t belong — such as the dark web or closed hacker forums.

Phishing and Pharming

When you’re online, phishing has nothing to do with a rod and reel. Rather, phishing happens when criminals hook you with phony emails, texts, or phone calls.

A related scam is pharming, in which users are directed to fake websites without their knowledge. For example, when a pharmer hacks into your browser and redirects you to a fake website.

What types of information might you be prompted for in a phishing or pharming attack? Any sensitive details that can be used for profit, like your Social Security number or the credentials to your bank account.

Phishers and pharmers may try to lure you by promising freebies or even by posing as your business, but with a little vigilance, you’ll be ready to spot the scam.

Any time you open an email or visit a website, be wary of urgent requests, frequent typos or blurry images, and multiple pop-up windows. If something doesn’t seem right, delete the email or close the browser window and move on.

Oversharing Online

Unfortunately, oversharing on social media can reveal more than you intended.

Take that first-day-of-school pic you snapped of your kiddos on the front porch. Is your house number visible in the background? If so, the safest bet is not to share, as your street address is considered personally identifiable information (PII).

Similarly, it’s not advisable to post from your vacation — or even from a restaurant — in real time. When you share your location, you’re also sharing the fact that you’re not at home, which can make you a target for theft.

There’s something else to consider. Everything you share online accumulates over time as part of your digital footprint. As your footprint grows, identity thieves may have more opportunities to get your information.

To combat this, consider adjusting your privacy settings to control who can see your information on social media. Think twice before accepting friend requests from people you don’t know. And consider enabling a social media monitoring feature like the one we offer, which can ping you if we notice signs that might point to account takeover.

SIM Card Swaps

Many smartphones use SIM cards, or subscriber identity modules, to identify the user and store important data. Your phone number can be transferred to a new SIM card for legitimate reasons, like when you’ve lost your phone or you’re upgrading to a new device.

But with SIM swap scams, thieves take advantage of this capability by calling a phone carrier, posing as you, and requesting to move your phone number to a device in their possession. Fraudsters have also been caught bribing phone-company employees to make the swaps on their behalf.

If the SIM swap is successful, the thieves can then use the compromised phone number as a portal to the rest of your digital life. With access to text messages, for example, a thief can side-step the extra security provided by two-factor authentication, making it easier to penetrate financial accounts, personal emails, and cryptocurrency wallets.

SIM swapping can also lead to a compromised social media account, which can cause reputational harm.

Compromised Credit Reports

Credit reports are treasure troves of personally identifiable information (PII), such as your full name, birth date, and Social Security number.

Identity thieves can request a copy of a credit report by posing as a landlord or potential employer. If you suspect that someone has stolen your identity or if you’ve been told that your PII has been compromised, you may be able to prevent further damage by requesting a security freeze with the three major credit bureaus.

Identity Theft in the Physical World

While some identity thieves have adopted sophisticated tactics for mining data digitally, others steal information the old-fashioned way: in the physical world.

Here are a few examples:

  • Dumpster diving: Criminals are known to dig through trash in search of sensitive information. So be careful about what you throw in the recycling bin — and shred sensitive documents if they’re no longer needed.
  • Mail theft: Stealing physical mail is a tried-and-true tactic that’s still used by identity thieves today. To deter any would-be snoops, consider purchasing a mailbox with a lock and ask your postal service to hold your mail whenever you’re out of town.
  • Shoulder surfing: A fraudster might spy over your shoulder any time you’re in a public place, so be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down — especially when you’re at an ATM or in a checkout line, for example.
  • Skimming: This pervasive and often hard-to-detect technique happens when fraudsters leave skimming devices attached to the credit-card processor at legitimate businesses. When you swipe your card, the skimmer reads the magnetic strip and stores your card number. Then, whoever planted the device can then use your credit card or sell the information to a third party.
  • Shimming: Similar to skimming, this is when criminals insert a tiny microchip into an ATM or card reader with the aim of stealing and storing your information. 

You have a partner in identity protection

Data is a valuable resource. That’s why we’re deeply committed to safeguarding our members’ information, and to helping them take quick action if it’s been compromised.

Even if fraud occurs, with Boyd Identity Protection, you’ll never have to fight identity theft alone. Give us a call at 1 (800) 381-2693 to learn more and sign up today!

 

 

 

5 Signs of a Shoplifter

Shoplifting is a critical problem that persists in the retail industry. It’s become such an issue that over $13 billion worth of goods are stolen each year, which equals $35 million per day. What’s even more unsettling is only one in 48 shoplifters are ever caught, with only about half ever prosecuted.

While it may be impossible to stop shoplifting entirely, there are simple yet effective ways to monitor patrons and determine if they’re stealing items. It’s important to train managers and staff on how to spot suspicious activity and report it. Here are the five most common signs of a shoplifter:

  1. They Loiter Inside or Outside Your Store

Shoplifters may loiter around certain areas of the store, such as the entrance or near high-value items. They may also notice surveillance blind spots and target those locations, which is something you should take into account when evaluating your store’s security measures.

Individuals tend to scope out in-store security measures and wait for a good opportunity to steal. If an employee notices someone loitering in your store, they should keep an eye on the person and make sure other staff are aware of their presence. Consider asking if they need help finding anything but be cautious. If they continue to hover, they may be waiting for the right time to shoplift.

  1. They Display Nervousness

Many shoplifters are petty criminals and not experienced thieves, so there’s a strong chance they’ll be a little nervous when attempting to shoplift. Shoplifters may exhibit signs of anxiety or nervousness, such as fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, avoiding cameras, sweating, etc. If you notice someone exhibiting these signs, keep an eye on them and make sure your staff is aware of their presence.

It’s an important reminder that nervousness isn’t a definite sign someone intends to steal. Some people may be feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed in a new environment. It’s important to approach all customers with kindness and professionalism while keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior.

  1. They Spend a Lot of Time in Dressing Rooms

For many department and clothing stores, fitting rooms are popular targets for shoplifters, as they provide a private space to conceal stolen items. Fitting rooms also allow individuals to remove tags to avoid the electronic sensors at the entrance of most retail locations.

In some cases, shoplifters may make multiple trips to the fitting rooms but only return a few items they take inside. Keep an eye out for empty hangers or tags left in the fitting room, as these may be signs of stolen items. It’s important to have a system in place to monitor fitting rooms, such as assigning staff to check on them regularly or limiting the number of items customers can take in at one time.

  1. They Bring Large Bags into the Store

Customers who bring large bags into stores are a red flag for retailers. A large bag can allow shoplifters to conceal merchandise and make it easier to exit the store undetected. In some cases, shoplifters could use empty bags with the store’s logo on them to make it look like they paid for the items when leaving.

To mitigate the risk of shoplifting, stores should have a policy in place that restricts customers from bringing in large bags upon entry. Backpacks, duffle bags, and grocery bags, among others, should be discouraged inside store premises. The policy not only deters potential shoplifters but makes it easier for employees to spot suspicious behavior.

  1. They Work in Pairs or Groups and Try to Distract Employees

Shoplifters sometimes work in teams to distract store employees, be a lookout, or create a diversion while another person steals merchandise. They may also use their body language or behavior to distract store employees from noticing the theft taking place.

Pairs/groups are generally more dangerous because they often plan these events beforehand, and it’s a lot harder to track multiple people at once inside a store. Retailers should train their employees to recognize and respond appropriately to suspicious activity, especially when they believe multiple people are involved.

Just remember, not all pairs/groups inside a store are shoplifters. However, if you notice groups who display some of the tendencies above or see individuals attempting to distract employees, it’s reasonable to raise suspicion and keep a close eye on them.

Shoplifting Prevention with Boyd & Associates

As a retailer, preventing shoplifting is critical for maintaining profits and ensuring the safety of both customers and employees. By recognizing the signs of a potential shoplifter, retailers can take proactive measures to deter theft and protect their assets.

In addition to training employees, retailers can also partner with security companies like us to implement advanced security measures. Boyd & Associates offers a range of security services and solutions, all designed to keep your store protected. Take action to protect your business today by contacting us to learn more.

Do I Need Security Software?

When you bought a new computer years ago, you often had to install additional security software on your computer to help ensure it was secure against cyber attackers. However, most of today’s computers and devices have numerous security features already built into them, such as automatic updating, firewalls, disk encryption, and file protection. In addition, Microsoft provides Windows computers security functionality called Microsoft Defender, which includes additional features such as anti-virus. In many ways, today’s systems by default are much more secure. In fact, YOU are most likely now the greatest weakness. This is why cyber attackers continually target people, attempting to trick them into doing things you should not do, such as giving up your passwords, clicking on links, or opening email attachments that install malware on your computers or share your credit card information.

Which tools should I consider?

If you want to take some additional steps to secure your systems, there are some additional security programs you can consider.

Password Manager: Passwords can be complex and overwhelming, especially having to remember potentially hundreds of different passwords. A Password Manager is a secure vault that protects and stores all your passwords for you so you have to only remember one master password. In addition, they can log you into websites, generate passwords for you, and help validate certain websites.

Virtual Private Network (VPN): VPNs primarily focus on protecting your privacy by encrypting your connection to the Internet and hiding your source location.

Security Suites: These are packages of security software that provide a collection of additional security features above and beyond what your operating system already provides. For example, filtering for dangerous websites, parental controls, and often a VPN. Each suite has different features, so research the one that you feel is best if you need one.

Selecting a Security Vendor

If you need to purchase additional security tools or software, there are many different vendors from which to choose. Which one should you choose? Quite often different vendors are more similar in the features they offer than they are different. The key is to use a solution from a trusted vendor. You don’t want to accidentally purchase and install something distributed by cyber criminals that are infected with malware.

Purchase tools from only well-known vendors that you have heard of and trust. Never purchase a tool from a company you know nothing about, that is brand new or has no reviews or lots of negative reviews. You want to be sure that the solution you are purchasing is legitimate and actively updated and maintained. You may even want to consider in what country the vendor is based. There are numerous online sites that have reviews of trusted vendors showcasing the differences in features and costs of their security software.

Be careful of free tools. While excellent free security tools do exist, there can be some concerns. These tools may be limited in features, difficult to use, or not updated frequently. In some cases, free tools may be developed by cyber attackers and then infected with malware.

Remember, while these security tools are helpful, start first with your computer’s built-in security features, including enabling automatic updating. Today’s operating systems are very secure by default. Finally, you are your own best defense. Be cautious with any odd or suspicious phone calls, emails, or text messages. No security software in the world can protect you from someone trying to trick or fool you into something you should not do.