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Animal Break Ins

by Amy April 1, 2019

Whether you live in the city or out in the countryside, sometimes nature comes a-calling when you aren’t at home. These crafty animal intruders as they slip around alarm systems and help themselves to food, couches, and more. Here are four furry and feathery break-ins caught on video.

Ever Heard of Cow Bingo?

Two cows came calling when the homeowner accidentally left her front door open. They took a self-guided tour of the bottom floor and then left large, unwelcome presents on the carpet. I bet the homeowner wishes she’d sprung for Scotchgard on that white rug!

Not Just a Doggie Door

Sometimes the animal kingdom creates some surprising best friends. These homeowners would have never guessed that their aloof cat would befriend a baby deer … or invite it inside. How does a deer that’s wobbly on its legs squeeze through a pet door? That’s a mystery for the ages.

A Too-Tight Squeeze

Word of the deer burglar may have spread through the animal kingdom, inspiring this bear to try the same trick. However, the cub should have done more yoga before making the attempt. He got as far as his head before getting stuck. The homeowner had a camera handy and snapped some shots of this furry goofball.

Picky and Pecky Eaters

Not every animal burglar is of the furry variety, and everyone who lives near the shore knows how sneaky seagulls can be. This bold bird went for the Doritos in the store. Without any scruples, he stole all the bags of his favorite flavor leaving the dregs behind for paying customers.

These animal break-ins sure are funny … when they’re happening to someone else. However, you don’t want to be stuck cleaning up a pile of manure from Aunt Irma’s heirloom rug. This is where complete home security systems come in. My Alarm Center offers both home security and alarm monitoring that can help keep your house secure from all types of unwanted visitors.

Full Home Security Checklist

by Cassie March 28, 2019

Home Security Checklist

The Future Is Now: Your Phone Is A Powerful Home Security Tool

by Amy February 27, 2019

Nothing is more important to us than protecting your home and family, especially as burglars become increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to break in. To keep pace with newer technologies and services, the right security agency is essential. A comprehensive home security system is more than just a set of security cameras and a beeping alarm. It should include modern, effective features like alarm monitoring and integration with smart phones. Here are a few ways that your phone can be a vital part of your security strategy:

Home Automation Gives You Remote Control

Home automation covers a lot of features that range from convenient to essential. These could include:

  • Watching the front door, windows, and any other entry points in your home
  • Garage doors that slide open as your car approaches
  • Exterior doors that automatically lock when you leave
  • The ability to disable alarms remotely if you have someone visiting your home

If your phone can help you navigate through your town, pay your bills, and even keep tabs on loved ones, why couldn’t it help secure your home in a snap?

Surveillance Lets You Keep an Eye on Your Home

Multiple exterior and interior cameras let you keep an eye on your property. With your cell phone, you can tap into the video feed at any time you want to make a spot check.

Alarm Monitoring And Alerts Keep You In The Loop

A multi-pronged security system can trigger alerts for everything from motion detection to smoke or carbon monoxide warnings. It may also cover scenarios like if a door or specific cabinet is opened. You’ll also be warned in the case of power failures or other unexpected events. Your cell phone lets you stay in the loop here and keep control of your house while you’re away.

Do you have any questions about integrating your alarm system with your cell phone? Contact us at My Alarm Center and our experienced agents will be happy to help.

Home Automation Weather Integration

by Amy February 18, 2019

According to a Yale University study, 41 million Americans live in flood zones. These are geographical areas that are either low-lying or are situated near waterways. But today’s climate is so unpredictable that the risk of flooding due to torrential downpours or fast-melting snow accumulations has put most of the country in danger of home or landscape flooding. How can you protect your home in these times? Why not consider integrating your home automation system with a home weather station?

Home Automation Weather Integration

Consider a home weather station that collects weather and other environmental related data using sensors and by monitoring local and national weather centers. These systems include thermometers and barometers to measure outdoor temperatures and atmospheric pressure, along with wind, rain, humidity, and other related climate data.

When this data is integrated with home sensors and smart home security features such as smart windows, your home not only warns of a possible storm, but takes action. Smart windows can open and close as needed depending on the forecast. Flood prevention systems can act to prevent costly water damage before it’s too late.

A home automation system can even check forecasts to determine whether the lawn and garden need watering. Your landscape will be healthier, and your wallet will be fuller, as you save money while conserving water. Homeowners can also integrate smart thermostats that will automatically update interior temperatures to keep the home’s comfort levels perfect.

Flood Protection and Monitoring

To reduce the risk of costly damage due to weather disasters, consult with a flood protection and monitoring service provider that is qualified to install home automation with a smart home flood warning system. Water detection sensors monitor interior water levels for outdoor water infiltration, burst pipes, and leaks.

But the most disastrous home floods are caused by weather events. With a smart home security system integrated with a weather station, climate related activity is monitored, and the proper actions are automatically taken to prevent damage to your home.

Get A Home Automation System Today

To learn more about a residential flood warning system, contact My Alarm Center to discuss how you can manage and prevent interior home flooding due to faulty appliances and plumbing or heavy rain events.

Alarm.com Smart Thermostat is ENERGY STAR® Certified

by Amy January 28, 2019

Staying warm during the frigid winter temperatures is a big priority for homeowners in northern U.S. regions. Alarm.com’s Smart Thermostat, provided by My Alarm Center, is now Energy Star® certified. That makes it the most energy-efficient way to manage temperatures inside your home, which means increased comfort and reduced heating costs.

It might be time to replace your old system if you don’t have an ENERGY STAR® certified thermostat on your home security plan. Modernizing your home’s thermostat will enable much greater efficiency and convenience in controlling the temperatures inside your home – and, can even cut costs!

What is  ENERGY STAR® Certification?

“ENERGY STAR® is a certification backed by the U.S. government. The symbol indicates that the products and practices bearing that label meet the standard for optimal energy efficiency. The goal of providing ENERGY STAR® labeling is to help protect the environment by reducing greenhouse emissions and other pollutants produced through inefficient energy use.

Benefits of an ENERGY STAR® Home

There are important benefits of using ENERGY STAR® kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, water heating, home heating and air conditioning units, and other residential electrical systems and devices. Here are some of the benefits you can realize by upgrading existing household energy consumers to ENERGY STAR® models:

  • Savings on Home Energy Costs — Installation of and efficient control of a HVAC system slashes home energy costs.
  • Tax Savings Homeowners receive tax credits for using energy efficient appliances, lighting, etc.
  • Improved Quality of Life — Home comfort is increased by more effective control over ambient temperatures, with the help of the Alarm.com application.
  • Helps the National Economy — Savings on energy bills contributes to cost savings, which leads to increased usable income for homeowners collectively nationwide.
  • Helps the Environment — Reducing your carbon footprint means you’re helping to slow the world’s overall consumption of fossil fuels.

Benefits of Smart Thermostats

There is an array of significant benefits from using a smart thermostat. Upgrading to a smart thermostat with up-to-date features provides you with:

  • Ideal Convenience — Adjust your home heating thermostat setting without even getting up from the couch.
  • Optimized Heating Management — Regulate the temperature in your home automatically, by setting your temperature timers.
  • Freedom from Manual Adjustments — You never have to worry about whether your home’s heating system is running or was accidentally left on during your workday or vacation.
  • Big Energy Savings — Cost savings for homeowners who can remotely control when their home heating and cooling systems, water heaters, security lighting, and other systems, turn off and on. Take savings on home energy consumption to a new level.

Ways Smart Thermostats Can Be Used

It’s a smart world, and it’s time for a smart thermostat. With today’s state-of-the-art smart thermostat models, you can use the Internet of Things (IoT) to:

  • Use your smartphone to control your thermostat while you are away from home
  • Run reports of your heating and cooling system’s energy consumption, system run times, etc.
  • Receive notifications that your HVAC system’s air filter needs replacing

My Alarm Center’s Home Automation and the Smart Thermostat

A smart home uses today’s cloud technology to connect all your devices. You can control your thermostat as well as all your other networked appliances, systems, and devices through the same mobile app. With quick and easy setup, all your home’s smart facilities can automatically respond to your needs as you go through your usual daily activities.

For More Information

My Alarm Center’s award-winning home automation services are currently used in more than 5 million U.S. homes and businesses. Our network includes over 4,000 authorized service providers. For more information about ENERGY STAR® Smart Thermostats for your home, or to find your nearest service provider, contact My Alarm Center today. Our experts are here to answer your questions anytime.

7 Security Tips to Protect Your New Stuff

by Cassie January 19, 2019

 

Security Tips

From the big-screen that Santa brought to the snazzy new phone you gifted yourself, your home is likely brimming with brand-new temptations for burglars. Here are seven tips to keep your family, your home and your new goodies protected:

1. Hide Your Priciest Loot from View

The number-one rule of thumb for not getting burgled? Don’t tempt the burglars. And that means keeping expensive deliveries out of view. Walk the perimeter of your home, and see what you can see: Can you spot the glow of your new 50″ TV from the road? Are laptops open within view of the front windows? Does your PS4 hang out near the window ledge? Slight relocation can remove them from the sight path of peeping eyes.

2. Don’t Leave the Evidence at the Curb

The second mistake of new gifts is to leave their packaging out for curbside trash pickup. That 50″ TV box at the curb – guess what it’s telling your friendly neighborhood burglar? Instead of leaving pricey packaging out for all to see, break down boxes and fold them inside out. Wrap them in bags, if the logos are still showing. And put them out the night before garbage day. Preferably when it’s already dark.

3. Sign / Sticker / Digitally Mark Your Gear

If you received new, shiny portable gear – fancy cameras, laptops, tablets, etc. – consider tagging them with identifying labels. (Tip: Don’t put your address on the labels; a phone number and email will suffice.) And if your new phone, tablet, camera or other tech gadget carries a memory card inside, add an IfLost.txt file, complete with your contact information.

4. Slash the Flash

And speaking of high-ticket portable tech, consider transporting it in a very low-ticket, uglified casing. In other words, don’t run out and buy a $250 leather laptop case or blinged-out phone cover; instead, stash your stuff in unassuming wrapping (like a laptop backpack) so it’s not an instant target.

5. Hide the Goods (But Not Everything)

Put expensive jewelry in a safe. Stash your gadgets out of view. Essentially, don’t leave thousands of dollars in gifts out in plain sight. But don’t hide everything away, either. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s a good idea to leave a bit of cash and lower-cost goodies in easy-to-find spots; that way, if a thief does find his way into your home, he’s more likely to snatch your barely-hidden goods and getaway, than to tear your home apart in search of the really good stuff.

 6. Secure Your Laptop

If you just got a new laptop, it’s time to secure it. Of course, you can physically secure it with a lock, but we’re more concerned with the information contained therein. And like home security, you’ll want to secure your computer with multiple layers of protection, like GPS tracking, and webcam mugshots, and password protections.

7. Aww, What a Cute Baby!

File this under weird but true: research has shown that your wallet is more likely to be returned if there’s a baby picture inside. Message received. Our advice: slip a baby photo into your wallet (doesn’t matter if you don’t have a baby, a neice or nephew’s photo will do!), but don’t stop there. Add a few to your camera’s memory card, stock a few on your laptop, etc. etc. Sprinkle baby pictures into all your tech, and it may just be the tipping point to getting your stuff returned someday.

Now you tell us: How are you keeping your new toys safe?

Improving Your Home Security For The New Year

by Amy January 7, 2019

Losing weight or quitting smoking typically make many New Year’s Resolution lists, but what about installing or updating your home security system? Keeping you and your family safe are definitely worth including on your list. We’ve put a few ideas together to help you do just that — a “New Year’s To-Do” list. These little things you can do can make a big difference in making your home more secure:

Don’t Leave Garage Door Openers or Keys In Your Car

Leaving these in your car makes it very easy for someone to gain access into your house without requiring a key. Make sure to stow these away in a guarded place where you can reach it, or entrust them to a close friend, neighbor, or family member. You can also take measures to your garage door by installing deadbolts and heavy-duty strike plate.

Make Your Home Look Occupied When It Is Not

This is easier than ever before with smart home devices and home automation security. You can schedule lights to be turned on and off at different times or even have a TV playing in the evening hours just like you were at home. Most home burglaries occur between 10am to 3pm, when most of us are at work, so seeing house activity during these times can detract unwanted trespassers.

Remember to Set Your Alarm System Correctly

Many people purchase an alarm from a security service but they fail to set it and use it; you’ll want an alarm system to go off when something happens. With a system from My Alarm Center you’ll also get the MyHome app which lets you set and deactivate your alarm system from your phone.

Utilize Our Video Monitoring Service

You’ll never have to open the door on a stranger again when you have video monitoring with My Alarm Center’s high-tech security cameras. You’ll be able to monitor your home right from your mobile device, even from miles away, when you’re at work or on vacation.

Remember To Monitor Other Doors

Burglars have always been creative, so don’t forget about your porch door, French doors, or even large windows. These can prove easier entryways for would-be criminals than the front door, so make sure they are properly secured. Our systems can ensure all these programs can be monitored and tracked, so you’ll know when anyone comes in at any point in your home.

If you have any questions on home security systems, don’t hesitate to reach out and have a security system installed in the Philadelphia and Seattle areas.

Fire Safety Tips For Homeowners

by Amy December 6, 2018

It is important to remember that even a small fire can spread within minutes, and it can take more time to escape your home than you think.  These tips can help you stay safe in case of a fire.

Causes Of Fires

Cooking: Ensure that the burners and stove are always turned off when you are finished cooking. Be especially careful when cooking or frying with oil and grease. Make sure that all clothing and other combustible materials stay far away from open flames. Our fire detection systems can alert you when burners are remained on.

Heating: Make sure there are at least 3 feet of clearance between space heaters and any flammable objects. Also, ensure wood burning heaters and fireplaces are properly maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.

Candles: When using candles, be smart about their placement. Never leave an open flame unattended or near children. Extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to sleep.

Smoking: Indoor smoking is the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths in the United States. If you must smoke inside, make sure you never smoke in bed and always fully extinguish cigarettes when finished. Keep matches and lighters away from children. Never place ashes in a trash can where they can ignite a fire; instead, wet them down and dispose of them in a metal container.

Appliances and Furniture: Furniture can catch fire very quickly. Take special care with placing furniture near heat sources. Electrical malfunctions account for about 6% of residential building fires. It is important to check electrical cords and to replace them if they are damaged.

Smoke Detectors: Ensuring that your smoke detectors are working properly is a huge part of ensuring your safety. Check that you have a smoke detector in every room in which people sleep and outside of the sleeping area. Test the detector once a month by pushing the test button until it beeps. If your smoke detector needs a new battery or is malfunctioning, take care of it as soon as possible. Smoke detectors older than 10 years need to be replaced and batteries older than six months should be changed as well. If you ever hear the fire alarm, it is important that you immediately leave your home.

Fire Extinguishers: Make sure that you purchase one. This is a necessary item to stop minor fires before they spread. Ensure that the fire extinguisher is up to date and working properly. Familiarize yourself with PASS (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep) on how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

Close Doors: Avoid leaving doors propped open because closed doors can slow the spread of a fire.

Clutter: Do not leave any shared spaces cluttered. This could block your escape, especially at night or in a smoke-filled room, when it is difficult to see clearly.

Escape Plan: Creating a fire escape plan is very important and will allow you to be ready in case a fire ever does occur. Identify all possible escape routes from your home and establish a meeting place outside, a safe distance from your house, with your family. Conduct your own fire drills, both during the day and at night.

Prepare yourself and do your part to ensure that your home will never be in a dangerous fire situation. Take our fire safety quiz and know just how secure your home is.

Avoid Hackers When Holiday Shopping Online With These 10 Tips

by Amy November 13, 2018

Why deal with the hassle, stress, and dangers when shopping online? Your inbox is most likely already flooded with deals that you can’t afford to miss out on. But holiday shopping is as productive for cybercriminals as it is for online retailers. Pay attention to your online transactions and follow these tips to protect your personal information and stay safe while shopping online during the holidays.

  1. Shop From A Secure And Trusted Device
    Never shop from a tablet, phone, or computer that doesn’t have antivirus software. Not only could it be infected by malware, but any information entered into an unprotected device, including credit card numbers, are at risk of being stolen. Always use a protected device with up to date protection software.
  2. Shop Using A Secure Connection
    Your data and information can easily be stolen if a hacker controls the network you’re shopping on. It’s recommended to shop only from your own secure network instead of a public network. Also make sure any website you’re on has the HTTPS lock symbol in your URL window, instead of HTTP.

  1. Don’t Shop On Browsers
    Hackers could trick you into clicking on a false link if you’re trying to shop in a browser. It’s much safer to use trusted online retail sites or applications. If you’re going to shop on a browser, trusted experts recommend Mozilla Firefox, as it has the strongest privacy tools of all the browsers out right now.
  2. Some Deals Are Too Good To Be True
    If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cyber criminals know that people are looking for the best possible prices and will often lure unwitting victims into a trap with fake deals. Never open attachments in emails promising unbelievable deals and only use trusted vendors when placing your orders.
  3. Review Bank Statements
    Most banks and cards will refund you if your information has been stolen, so it’s important to keep an eye on your bank statements and make sure there haven’t been any mysterious purchases made. If there have been, call your bank or credit card company immediately, notify them of the purchase, and place an immediate hold on your accounts.
  4. Don’t Use Debit
    Credit card fraud can be frustrating and common, but believe it or not, credit cards tend to offer more protection from cyber criminals than debit cards do. If you can, use credit cards while doing your online shopping then immediately pay off the balance with your debit. This is much safer than using your debit card directly.

  1. Use Unique Logins
    Yes, it’s a pain remembering more than one login but if you use the same username and password for every retailer then a hacker only has to get the info for one to be able to access all the others. It’s recommended you use different login details for every retailer you shop with and keep the info in a Word file, so you don’t forget.
  2. Make Passwords Difficult
    Additionally, passwords should always be as long as possible and use a mix of upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols. If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords for each retailer, feel free to use a password manager to help.
  3. Read the Privacy Policies
    Each website has its own privacy policy. It may be tedious but it’s a good idea to read each one thoroughly. Some sites might seem okay but will sell your information to the highest bidder.
  4. Use Two-Step Verification
    It can be tedious, but two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your account by making you verify yourself even if you know the password. They might ask for an email or phone number or a special code sent via text. This type of verification could easily stop someone from making all their holiday purchases on your account.

Your security and safety are most important to us. Follow these tips to stay safe and stay shopping for the best deals during the holidays.

How To Best Protect Your Home And Car This Halloween

by Amy October 30, 2018

According to a study conducted by the Boston Globe, crime rates increase by 50% on Halloween night. If you’re out trick-or-treating with the kids, burglars could take advantage of people being away from home and the unfamiliar traffic and pedestrians typically out on Halloween. Protect your home before going trick or treating. Use these tips to stay safe and enjoy the fun sideo of this spooky evening.

General Safety Tips:

  • Choose your trick or treating venue or neighborhood wisely.
  • Take steps to protect your vehicles.
  • Provide plenty of light in walkways.
  • Make sure your trick or treaters are visible.
  • Avoid distractions while walking and driving.

Protect Your Home:

  • Provide plenty of lighting around the exterior of your home to make it easy to see people who approach your home and so visitors don’t stubmble on anything unseen.
  • Place decorations strategically so that they will not be a tripping hazard. Avoid extension cords if possible.
  • Keep all unsupervised points of entry into your home locked. It is a good idea to have your security system activated, even if you are just outside. You may not be aware of someone trying to break into your house while you’re handing out Halloween candy.
  • Leave all valuables out of sight.
  • Let your neighbors know that you do not plan to be home so that they can keep any eye out for anything suspicious.

Protect Your Vehicle:

  • Keep in mind that car theft increases as well on Halloween, so protect your vehicle. Park your car in your garage or at a well-lit area in a trusted neighborhood.
  • Remove all valuables from your car and never leave any in sight, espeically money or a purse, even for a few minutes.
  • Lock all the doors and roll up all the windows.
  • Set your alarm on your vehicle.

My Alarm Center provides security monitoring that will allow you to stay safe all year round. Plan for Halloween so that you can guarantee your home will be safe, even if you plan to celebrate somewhere else.