As the seasons change, so should your precautionary measures to ensure your home security system is up to the task of protecting your home, your valuables and, your family. Weather changes and the holiday season mean no risks for your security, but with a few simple safety checks and updates, you can make sure you’ve done your part in preparing for fall and winter security needs.
Here are a few tips on what you can do to prepare your home for better security this time of year.
Make Sure Your Smoke and Fire Alarm Equipment is Working Properly
Fall is typically the time of year when temperatures go down, and people look for ways to warm up inside. Fires in fireplaces and the additional use of heaters and heating systems means that the potential for an in-home fire greatly increases.
And, with the holiday season, out come holiday decorations and Christmas trees – more fire-friendly elements inside and outside of the home. If a fire were to start, trees and decorations could accelerate a fire leading to a big problem.
In the event of a fire, your smoke and fire alarm equipment could mean the difference between life and death and thousands of dollars in property damage. To start, check that you have sufficient and up-to-date smoke and fire alarm equipment. Then make sure your equipment is working correctly, by testing all smoke alarms in your home and replacing batteries that are low. Also, make sure you have working fire extinguishers strategically placed throughout your home for easy and immediate access if something were to happen.
Ensure Exterior Lighting and Monitoring is Installed Correctly
As the holidays approach, thieves look for more opportunities to score quick wins and theft of packages or easy entry into homes. Homes with poor or limited exterior lighting are good targets for theft. If it’s easy to get in and out undetected, packages are much more likely to get stolen off your porch or within easy access for quick break-ins.
Protect your property and your loved ones by doing a complete walkaround of your house at night to make sure you aren’t an open target for potential crime. Identify dark spots and unmonitored areas to see if you need to update or add exterior lights to deter theft.
If you haven’t already, you may also look into a front door camera, like the Skybell Pro, or surveillance cameras for the front, back, or sides of your home. Security cameras provide significant home security benefits, more so than just theft deterrence.
Let Neighbors and Loved Ones Know Your Travel Plans, But Don’t Advertise When You’ll Be Out of Town Online
This seems like common sense, but people are typically busier this time of year and can easily forget that a seemingly harmless Facebook check-in or Instagram post can alert home invaders to an empty house and good opportunity.
Potential thieves are smart, and they will use social media and online monitoring to know when you’re out of town and when your home is ripe for a break-in.
Be Internet savvy, and don’t give criminals an opportunity to target you by letting them know where you and your family are. You can still post the photos on social, just wait until you’re back home.
Interested in learning how Fortress Security can help prepare your home or business for the coming months? Learn more about our services or contact us today to see how we can help.
Door-to-door scams may not seem as commonplace as they once were – with people now more educated on sneaky sales tactics and the ever-increasing use of the Internet for online shopping and product comparison. But, door-to-door sales scams are still happening, especially in the summertime, and there’s a good reason for that.
Quite often during the summer, there is also the influx of new, college students, home for the summer and taking short-term jobs with larger security companies that may not adhere to the training they were given, doing anything to get in sales before the summer ends. Don’t fall prey to these scams. Follow our suggestions below to have a fun, worry-free summer.
Know what to look for before you answer the door.
What are the usual types of scams?
These tend to happen from salespersons posing as representatives from your security system provider. They say that they are here to upgrade your system, however, they are actually changing out your system with a competitor’s at a higher contract price. They will say things like “your security company merged with ours or our company just bought your security company, and now we’re upgrading everyone on the legacy systems.” They will also say your security company is going out of business, and they’ve taken over the contracts and need to process a free upgrade. Anything that is “free” should raise a red flag.
This may seem obvious, but these guys are generally very good at what they do. These would-be burglars are actually posing as a salesperson, just looking to scope out or modify your system so they can gain access more easily, at a later time.
Phone Call Scams
Not all scams are door-to-door. In fact, in 2014 home security systems phone call scams were among the top scams that year. Often the scammer will resort to calling your home and asking which security system you have installed — pretending to be a salesman for another company, but in reality, they’re just determining if you’re an easy target. Many times they will start out as a pre-recorded call aka robocall hoping you’ll take the bait and stick on the line to speak with a “representative.” The content of the robocall usually sounds generic and won’t bother listing a company name in the process.
Be aware they shouldn’t ask for a credit card or any other sensitive information over the phone. If they do, that should set off some alerts in your head to hang up the call.
Ways to avoid scams
Knowledge is power, so first and foremost make sure you contact your existing alarm company before signing any contracts or paperwork from a door-to-door salesperson from another security company. Second, inform your kids and anyone staying at your home for the summer of your alarm system and the potential for scam artists. Let them know that any changes would be scheduled and no person coming to change or fix your system would try to sell you something.
If you schedule a maintenance or upgrade appointment, make sure everyone is aware that someone will be visiting your home to work on the system, especially if you won’t be there.
Visual cues can help you decide if they are with your company. Start with the solicitor. Do they have a uniform or other identifying materials on them? Does their car have a wrap or any other company decals? Some states even require a “pocket card” that includes a license and photo ID.
No Soliciting signs are also a good deterrent for scam artists. If you let it be known that you aren’t willing to be approached, they’ll be less likely to knock on your door in the first place.
If you don’t have a sign, ask them if they have a soliciting permit in your city? Are they abiding by the rules of that permit? If they are at your home before 9am or after 7pm they are more than likely violating the ordinance. Here’s one example of a solicitation permit, required by Richardson, Texas –
Keep in touch with your neighborhood watch program and find out how common scams are in your area, and watch the local news for any notices of scams.
Get on the Do Not Call list, this will minimize solicitation calls and the potential for future scams. It’s free and easy to add yourself to the list. Just check out https://www.donotcall.gov/ and fill out the appropriate form. If someone calls you and you’re on the list already, remember to report them on that site as well!
Protect yourself and others
If you are one of the unfortunate targets of a potential scam this summer, do your part to help make it stop. Taking the time to report a potential scam artist can save many in your area the time and frustration that comes with undoing the damage caused by them. So, where do you start?
Start by contacting the local authorities to report the salesperson. Your local police department should have a non-emergency number you can call to report them. Also, don’t let your neighbors fall prey to scammers. Let them know of your encounter by posting on any online forums that you may have for your neighborhood on Facebook, Nextdoor or even texting them to get the word out.
In the unfortunate case you become the victim of a scammer, remember, you have 3 days to cancel any contract you signed. You can also file a consumer complaint with the Texas Attorney General or BBB if you like.
Spend your summer scam free
As summer begins and the temperatures rise, so do the chances you’ll encounter someone trying to scam you out of your hard earned money. Taking the time to make you and your household aware of the risks is the best way to keep a scam from happening to your home. Also, know that most reputable security companies won’t come to your home unless you have scheduled an appointment with them.
Fortress Security offers a wide range of home security capabilities and other safety features. Give us a call or fill out an online form to request a free quote today.
Walking into your home and realizing it’s been burglarized is a shocking moment.
It’s easy to feel emotionally overwhelmed by the violation you’ve just experienced. You will have a visceral reaction to seeing your home ransacked and your personal possessions missing.
Staying logical amidst the panic will be difficult. But the first few steps after you discover the crime are critical.
1) Call the police. Before seeking out what has been stolen, stay outside or go to a neighbor’s home to call the police, in case the intruder is still present.
Once police arrive, they’ll make sure the home is safe, and evaluate and photograph the scene exactly as it was left. You will not want to disturb the scene until authorities arrive, to preserve any evidence as-is.
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For most people, home feels like the safest place in the world. But if you’ve ever experienced a home invasion or a burglar scare, you know that feeling of safety can disappear in a moment. Even weeks, months, or years later, you can’t stop thinking about all of the ways a person could get in, where they would hide, what they would take.
Hopefully, you’ve managed to avoid this experience first-hand. But being a homeowner, the possibility is always in the back of your mind. You want to know your family is secure.
Luckily, there are a lot of good ways to prevent a break-in from occurring. Thieves don’t pick a house to target randomly; they can spot the signs of an easy entry. Read our home security checklist and find out if you have some room for improvement.
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Every entrance to your home needs a thorough security evaluation, and your garage is no different. Your vehicles are some of the most valuable items you own outside of your home, making them a popular target in thefts. Attached garages are highly convenient, but require a few extra basic home security measures, as they also offer another point of entry to your home. Read on to see if you follow these best practices.
Lock the entry doors. Both the exterior door and the door from the garage to the inside of your house are break-in weak points. The exterior entry to a garage is often tucked away on the back or side of the house, offering more cover than a front door or garage door that faces the main road. Make sure you have a reinforced deadbolt installed. And always lock the door leading into your home as well.
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With Halloween just around the corner, moms and dads are struggling to find time to find the perfect costumes for their kids and get spooky decorations in place. Having fun is the focus of the day, so it’s easy to forget to take some security precautions.
There are many great lists of Halloween safety tips for protecting your kids as they go from house to house. But the holiday is also known for some dangerous behaviors, which can impact the security of your home.
There are two common kinds of problems more common on October 31. You may have misguided “pranksters” doing accidental or intentional minor property damage. The other risk is a bit more serious: criminals using the cover of heightened activity to stake out a break-in target.
While they differ in severity, both types of troublemakers are going to approach houses that seem to offer the least chance of getting caught. Read on to learn a few ways to make your house an unlikely choice for either group.
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Moving into a new home brings a flurry of activity and excitement. You have so much to get unpacked and in order; but before you get settled, you want to make sure your home is secure. Read our to-do list for moving into a new place.
Change locks on all doors. This should be one of the first things you do when renting or buying a home. Even if you know the former residents and trust them, you never know who they lent a key to once and forgot about.
Reprogram your garage door. Like keys, there can be multiple openers calibrated to one garage door opener, and you may not be in possession of all of them when you move in. Limiting access to all of your property is ideal, even if your garage is detatched from your home. These devices differ, so look into the reset process of your particular model.
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Unseemly as it may be, home burglars treat their crime like a trade and take preparations long before breaking into a home. Selecting a target is their first step. So how do thieves decide which house to rob and which to pass up?
Burglars Look For:
Open blinds. Don’t put your electronics, jewelry box, or extra car keys on display for anyone who looks through your windows. By being able to map out where everything is located, a thief knows he can plot out break-in and get valuable items. Close the blinds, particularly in rooms with expensive possessions.
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Who doesn’t love summer? With its longer days, flip-flop weather, and no need to help with your kids’ math homework after a long day at work, there seems to be a lot more opportunity to get outdoors and have fun.
Unfortunately, being more active does have its risks. But rather than sit inside on the couch, just follow these ten summer safety tips to help you prepare for warm weather fun. With the right precautions, you can have a great time and keep yourself and your family safe. Read More »
Once we have children, protecting their health and safety becomes a driving force in our lives. A home security system is an important part of that, but there are plenty of other steps we can take as well. From newborns to teenagers, these safety tips for children will help you keep your kids safe and secure. Read More »