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.

IoT Device Safety for Young Children

Technology today has become ingrained in many children’s lives, making them much more adept with Internet devices than previous generations. Nearly 95% of American households today have the Internet, giving children greater access and exposure than ever. Many children have a basic understanding of a tablet or smartphone or even know how to surf the web before they enter elementary school.

The next generation of kids will undeniably be tech-savvy and Internet-centric, which provides parents and caregivers with a unique challenge. The Internet will be a big part of their children’s development, so it’s important to talk with them early about Internet usage and establish rules on how to use it.

Should Parents Monitor Children’s Internet Usage?

The short answer is yes, but the practical way to go about it is more complicated. There must be more research before we fully understand how technology impacts children’s development. However, current studies indicate there are positives and drawbacks to technology usage in children.

For starters, Internet access can be an effective way for children to unwind and relax. With the advancement of streaming, kids can now watch their favorite shows or lighthearted videos from a smartphone, tablet, etc. Additionally, the Internet can help children learn new things and build research skills. Google’s search engine has become a modern phenomenon, and many children understand how to use it effectively at a young age.

On the other hand, too much Internet usage can negatively impact social skill development in children and make them more isolated. Another study indicates that an over-saturation of technology can decrease the attention span of children and adults.

So, what is the best way to monitor a child’s Internet usage? Well, the best answer is moderation. Parents or caregivers should establish clear rules for how long a child can use an Internet device. We suggest less than two hours of screen time every day, but it is ultimately up to you to decide what is best for your child. However, if you notice prolonged Internet use is becoming a problem, you should intervene.

How to Keep Children Protected While Using an IoT Device

Although the Internet is a powerful tool that has a lot of positives, there are also a lot of dangers to it. The truth is, you do not know who is on the other side of the screen, their intentions, or how they might target you or your child. Children are more susceptible to online scams and cyber-attacks because they are mostly unaware of these behaviors, so it is essential to have measures in place to ensure their safety.

Parental Controls

Parental controls were implemented in the mid-90s when the Internet entered the mainstream. Today, these controls exist on basically any IoT device you use. There are a lot of customizable features that restrict certain content from children, giving parents and caregivers a lot of flexibility.

For instance, parental controls on smartphones allow you to limit which apps your child can download, set screen time limits, and even restrict the ability to share photos and videos from the device online. As for laptops and tablets, you can restrict the websites they access, the games they can play/download, view browsing history, and limit screen time. There are more advanced settings for each device too. But this should give you a basic understanding of what you can control as a parent.

Teach Them the Basics of Internet Safety

Sometimes, parental controls can only go so far. The sooner children learn how to protect themselves online, the better. Most of us have heard the parental advice, “don’t talk to strangers.” The same rule applies when online. It’s a sad reality, but there are a lot of dangerous people online, and children are susceptible targets to their nefarious goals. Criminals often use a child’s naivety to their advantage.

Children must never share personal information about themselves, family members, or friends. These include names, addresses, phone numbers, events they’re attending, etc. If it’s information they wouldn’t tell a stranger in real life, it’s something they shouldn’t share online. Additionally, they must understand that even reputable websites like YouTube can be dangerous if they’re not careful. They must always be conscious about what they say and do online: no exceptions!

Make Sure They Know How to Operate Other Smart Home Devices

Internet-capable devices have expanded far beyond the traditional laptop or cellphone. Home automation has become increasingly popular among households. People can control everything from lighting to locking their doors, to adjusting thermostats, and much more from a smartphone, laptop, etc.

If you have any smart home technology or are considering installing some, it’s important to teach your children how to handle these devices on a basic level. The last thing you want them to do is to inadvertently leave the house unlocked or disarm your security system. Most children are well-versed in technology already, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to understand.

Consider a Smart Home Security System to Keep Your Children Protected

A child is a home’s most important asset, and a smart home security system can ensure they remain protected. You can even teach them the valuable lesson of home safety by showing them how the system works and how to use it properly.

At Boyd & Associates, the safety of our customers is always our top priority. We offer a wide range of security and smart home solutions that are easy to use and keep you and your family safe. For more information about Boyd & Associates and how we can help you build a more secure home, feel free to contact us today.

Driving Safety Tips For Snow Travel

California has received an overwhelming amount of snow this winter, making local resorts popular destinations for travel.

Driving in mountain regions during winter conditions requires planning and preparation to avoid hassles on the road and once you arrive at your destination. Here are a few personal safety tips to help you plan and stay safe on your trip.

Prepping To Drive

  • YOU MUST CARRY CHAINS IN YOUR VEHICLE AT ALL TIMES DURING WINTER!
  • Carry a sturdy shovel and cat litter – or gravel – should you need to dig out of a berm or create additional traction on icy roads.
  • When driving during or shortly after a storm, expect delays. Plan on leaving extra early to manage heavy/slow traffic.
  • Check road conditions before you drive and choose the route with the most favorable conditions.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread and are properly inflated.
  • Carry emergency supplies including: food, water, warm clothing, blankets, medication, and a cell phone in case you become stranded.

When You Need Chains

  • Caltrans will determine if tire chains are required. Check chain requirements on Caltrans Quickmaps.
  • R2 conditions require 2-wheel vehicles to wear chains. R3 conditions require ALL vehicles to wear chains. There are no exceptions to these rules.
  • Do not stop in the middle of the roadway to put chains on.
  • You must install the chains on the drive tires. Refer to your vehicle manual if you are unsure of which wheels are your drive tires.
  • Carry a shovel, rubber mats, cat litter, or other materials to help with traction if you get stuck.

Driving In Icy/Snowy Conditions

  • Make sure you can see out of all windows of your vehicle.
  • DO NOT POUR HOT WATER ON WINDOWS TO MELT ICE! Use an ice scraper and your defroster.
  • Use your fog lights when driving in fog, rain, and snowstorms.
  • Keep 3 car lengths away from the vehicle in front of you. The distance needed to stop on ice is twice as long as you would normally need to brake.
  • NEVER brake suddenly on ice – tap brakes lightly, on and off until you slow.
  • Black ice can stay on roadways in warmer conditions. Be careful when driving in shady areas and slow on approach.
  • Reduce speed upon approaching a turn. Avoid sudden acceleration or deceleration.
  • If you skid, let off the accelerator until you feel your wheels regain traction – do not brake! As you regain traction, turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go. If you’re still skidding, counter-steer and apply the gas lightly until your vehicle is pointing in the right direction.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, including other drivers that may be losing control on the roadway.
  • Slow down in icy/snowy/foggy conditions.
  • When driving uphill on an icy road, you will need momentum. Slowing can cause you to slide backwards into traffic behind you.
  • If you are nervous or inexperienced driving in winter conditions, avoid traveling and wait until conditions improve.

Is it imperative that you check road and weather conditions before you travel so you know if conditions are favorable or not favorable. Even in sunshine weather, you must carry the appropriate equipment in case of an emergency.

For More Security Tips And Solutions, Stick With Boyd & Associates.

If you’re looking for more ways to keep yourself, your family, and your travels safe, check out our home security and automation services at Boyd & Associates. We offer a wide range of home security options to protect you and your family.

If you’re ready to discuss our custom solutions, contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you prepare for what’s next.

 

Securing Your Belongings While Traveling

Securing your belongings while traveling is important to ensure that you have a safe and stress-free trip. Here are some tips to help you keep your belongings secure while traveling:

  1. Choose the right luggage: Invest in high-quality luggage that is durable and has strong locks. Hard-shell suitcases are often more secure than soft-sided ones, as they are more difficult to cut open.
  2. Use TSA-approved locks: Use TSA-approved locks to secure your luggage. These locks can be opened by TSA agents without damaging your luggage, which can save you time and money if your luggage is selected for inspection.
  3. Keep your valuables with you: Keep your valuables such as your passport, money, credit cards, and electronics with you at all times. Use a money belt or travel pouch to keep your valuables close to your body, or use a small backpack or purse that you can carry with you.
  4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Divide your cash and credit cards into multiple places. If you lose one set of cash or cards, you will still have some left.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings: Keep an eye on your surroundings and be aware of any suspicious activity. Avoid leaving your luggage unattended in public areas and be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas.
  6. Use hotel safes: Use the hotel safe to store your valuables when you are not using them. Make sure to use a unique code or password to ensure that your belongings are secure.
  7. Don’t trust strangers: Be wary of people who offer to help you with your luggage or belongings. Scammers can use this as an opportunity to steal from you.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your belongings are safe and secure while traveling. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts if something feels off.

For More Security Tips And Solutions, Stick With Boyd & Associates.

If you’re looking for more ways to keep yourself, your family, and your belongings safe, check out our home security and automation services at Boyd & Associates. We offer a wide range of home security options to protect you and your family.

If you’re ready to discuss our custom solutions, contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you prepare for what’s next.

Home Security and Spring Cleaning Guide: How to Prep for Safer, Warmer Months

Depending on the weather in California, you may find yourself in flip-flops one day and furry boots the next. But there is no denying that despite our rainy Winter so far this year, Spring is coming!

With this years harsh cold and flu season, many of us have become cleaning and disinfecting ninjas — so a little spring cleaning? No sweat! Take advantage of this mindset, and any extra time you have at home, to make your home a more pleasant place to be.

But don’t stop at dusting and power-washing; it might be time to clean up your home security, too!

Statistics have shown that crime often rises after we “spring forward” at Daylight Saving Time.

When the temperature rises outdoors, we take more time off, get more active, go on more vacations, and just stay out later. It’s probably no coincidence that home burglary rates increase during the summer months, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Some spring cleaning tasks can make your home safer.

For some, spring cleaning may be the one time of year you do a thorough deep cleaning and decluttering of your entire home. This is when we address the areas that might often get passed over, which means the furniture is getting moved, and doors and windows are being examined. It’s a good opportunity to uncover safety issues or spots where a burglar might try to break in.

Like anything else in your home, security alarm systems need regular maintenance.

If you have a smart home security system, you have probably noticed they do a lot of the thinking for you (that’s the point!). It’s easy to adopt a set-it-and-forget-it attitude. But a little bit of maintenance and regular check-ins go a long way — and milestones like Daylight Savings and the start of spring are great reminders to do just that.

Set yourself up for a safer, more secure spring and summer by making home security part of your spring cleaning ritual.

If you own a smart home security system, there are a few extra tasks we suggest adding to your checklist:

  1. Sanitize your security and home automation equipment.

Some of the equipment you use to control and secure your home may be hands-free — like a motion sensor — and some you might touch every day, like your panel.

From your smart thermostat to your security panel to your cameras, make sure your security and home automation devices are on your spring cleaning list. Too much dust and debris can interfere with how devices like smoke detectors function. Play it safe and keep ’em clean!

  1. Set up a schedule to test your system.

If you have professionally monitored security, it is important to test your system to make sure it’s communicating properly with the monitoring center. It is simple to do and will give you peace of mind.

We recommend testing once a month, and after making any adjustments in your home that may impact your systems, such as landline, internet, and broadband service changes. If you are planning to do any remodeling or home renovations, make a note to test your system afterward. It’s also a good idea to do a test a week before taking a vacation as an extra precaution.

  1. Update your emergency contacts.

Take a minute to make sure all of your account information is correct, and update your emergency contacts. Your emergency contacts are the people your monitoring team will call if anything goes wrong, and they can’t get in touch with you.

  1. Set up your security notifications.

All the bells and whistles that come with a smart home system are amazing, but ultimately, your safety and peace of mind is what it’s all about. Alerts and notifications provide instant awareness anywhere via your smartphone. If you haven’t programmed any alerts or notifications for your system yet, get started now!

Get smart home security for better home protection this spring

A professionally installed and monitored smart home security solution will give you peace of mind and confidence, especially during your warm-weather excursions.

Even if you’re still on the fence or aren’t sure what you need in a system, you can learn more about the benefits of smarter security by contacting us today!

 

 

 

Protecting Your Assets: How to Secure Your Bank Accounts

Banking is a crucial part of our daily lives. We trust banks to keep our hard-earned money safe, but unfortunately, they aren’t immune to theft or fraud. With the rise of cybercrime, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect your assets in the bank. Here are some simple tips to help you secure your bank accounts:

Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication: Your passwords should be long, complex, and unique to each of your accounts. Enable two-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection.

Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi can be a breeding ground for hackers. When accessing your bank accounts on public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your connection.

Watch out for phishing scams: Scammers often use emails and text messages that appear to be from your bank, asking you to provide sensitive information. Always double-check the sender’s email address and never click on links in unsolicited emails.

Keep your software and anti-virus programs up to date: Regularly updating your software and anti-virus programs can help prevent cyberattacks.

Monitor your accounts regularly: Keep a close eye on your bank accounts by regularly checking your statements and transactions. If you spot any suspicious activity, report it immediately to your bank.

By following these simple tips, you can help protect your assets in the bank and keep your money safe. At Boyd & Associates, we understand the importance of home security, and we offer a range of products and services to help keep you and your assets safe. Contact us today to learn more.

How to Prevent and Extinguish Electrical Fires in a Commercial Building

According to the National Fire Protection Association, structure fires in professional buildings account for millions of dollars in property damage each year. Electrical distribution and lighting are the second leading cause of these fires, making up approximately 15% of the total property damage. Taking a proactive approach to fire safety and prevention will lower the likelihood of an unexpected blaze and keep your business and employees safe. Here are some tips for preventing and extinguishing electrical fires in commercial buildings.

Perform Regular Maintenance On Equipment

Equipment that is damaged, dusty, or greasy could be prone to electrical fires. Keep your equipment in good working condition by following maintenance guidelines as recommended by the manufacturer. If you notice anything malfunctioning, contact a technician to have it serviced to prevent it from becoming a hazard.

Dust and grease may clog vents on equipment such as industrial exhaust fans, which can then lead to overheating and cause fires. If you notice this buildup on any devices within your workplace, clean them promptly.

Have Your Electrical System Inspected After Any Environmental Changes

Environmental changes such as a flood or a significant storm could damage equipment and your building’s electrical infrastructure and lead to malfunctions that result in an electrical fire. If any major environmental changes have occurred, have a licensed electrician inspect your system and verify it is functioning correctly.

They should evaluate the following:

  • Circuit breakers
  • Fuses
  • Wiring
  • Transformers
  • Switchboards
  • Switches

Don’t Overload Extension Cords Or Power Strips

Extension cords are commonly used to power workstations, particularly in office buildings, but they can be dangerous when overloaded. An overloaded extension cord could melt, burn wires, or create sparks that cause a fire.

When using extension cords and power strips in your workplace, follow their ratings and use guidelines. If in doubt, refer to the wattage labels on the appliances you intend to plug into the cord and ensure that they don’t exceed your extension cord’s rating.

Electrical Work Should Only Be Done By A Professional

Ensure that any electrical work or maintenance performed within your workplace is done by a licensed electrician. Electricians have the skills to evaluate how to best arrange power sources and equipment within your workplace for safety and functionality. A professional electrician will have the latest training on electrical codes and best practices and take care to ensure that work is done safely and correctly.

How To Put Out An Electrical Fire

The most important thing to remember about electrical fires is that they should not be extinguished with water. Water is an electrical conductor, and pouring it on an electrical fire could cause electrocution. Instead, use these tips:

  • If possible, cut the power to the equipment involved in the fire.
  • Smother the fire (if it’s small enough) with a fire blanket or a Class C fire extinguisher

If you don’t have the tools you need or the fire is out of control, evacuate the area and call 911.

The Bottom Line

Electrical fires are typically the result of overloaded circuits, faulty wiring, or malfunctioning equipment. With this in mind, regular maintenance and fire safety audits are essential for preventing these fires. While a Boyd & Associates commercial fire alarm system will ensure help is dispatched in an emergency, holding regular fire safety briefings with your staff will help them stay proactive about preventing fires.