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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.

Senior Citizen Home Security Tips

by Amy September 7, 2018

As you get older, it often becomes more difficult to live on your own. You may tend to forget things, which could be potentially dangerous. Accidentally forgetting to lock the front door, or to turn the oven off, could present a costly or dangerous threat. However, being a senior citizen shouldn’t mean relinquishing your independence, either. Here are some tips from My Alarm Center for retaining your independence and keeping your home secure as you age.

  1. Home Security

Home security systems help senior citizens live safer lives. Should any of the alarms sound, including burglar, fire, and carbon monoxide, the proper authorities will be notified, and help will be sent immediately. With home automation, a loved one can help keep an eye on appliances and door locks.

  1. Smart Lighting

Smart lights can be programmed to turn on as someone enters a room and shut off when they leave—eliminating the potential dangers of walking through a dark room and saving electricity, too.

  1. Smart Locks

Regardless of how safe your neighborhood is, you should always keep your door locked. Refrain from leaving an extra key outside the house. This is a common way intruders enter a home. Smart locks make sure the house is always locked and can be remotely unlocked in case someone forgets their keys.

  1. Peepholes & Doorbell Cameras

Don’t be taken advantage of by strangers. A front door with a peephole lets you know who you’re going to face once you open the door. Use one in tandem with a doorbell camera which not only allows you to see who is at the door but lets you speak with them as well.

  1. Keep A Phone Nearby

An older loved one should always carry a cell phone with them. In case of an emergency, they need a way to contact help. Even if they are not technologically savvy, there are simple phones available with features like large numbers that make them senior-friendly.

  1. Medical Alert System

With a medical alert system, elderly homeowners are protected in case of an emergency. The device is very simple and, with the press of a button, will contact emergency personnel. It is especially helpful during a fall or some other event that would leave them unable to move or get to a phone. Different models are offered in necklace and bracelet form.

By installing a home security system, senior citizens will have the ability to live safely on their own.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

by Cassie October 27, 2016

Monitored Fire detector

Most people are aware they need fire alarms to warn them of a fire. But many people are not as aware of carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a deadly and invisible gas. Colorless, tasteless, odorless, and poisonous. In 2007, there were 2,302 confirmed cases of people being hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home as many appliances release this deadly gas. My Alarm Center provides a monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detection system that can keep your home safe, even when you’re not there.

The benefits of My Alarm Center’s monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detectors include:

  • A linked central monitoring board so that when the alarm is set off, help can be notified immediately. This will take place even when you’re not home and when the security alarm is not armed.
  • Monitoring can provide protection to many people who are not capable of responding to a traditional alarm. This could include the elderly, disabled, children, people suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, and pets. The alarm immediately responds to safety providers.
  • The system provided by My Alarm Center monitors carbon monoxide and smoke in the air 24 hours a day.
  • Once the Central Monitoring Station is alerted, it first calls the home to assess the situation. If there is no response, the authorities are immediately contacted.
  • First Responders will arrive at the scene in minutes.

Firefighters recommend placing one monitored smoke and carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom and living space to ensure complete safety in the home. Unfortunately, too many people are endangered because they don’t have a working fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector. My Alarm Center’s fire and carbon monoxide detector system has the ability to constantly monitor your home and to keep it safe even when you’re not there. This system can give you peace of mind when you’re not home and alert you before a disaster can take place. Contact My Alarm Center for more information on professionally monitored Carbon Monoxide detectors.

3 Free Smartphone Apps That Will Help Keep You Safe

by Amy February 8, 2015

mobile-apps

We use our smartphones for everything – from accessing apps that organize our to-do lists to using apps that take and edit photos creating perfect selfies. At almost all times, we are equipped with one of the most powerful smart home devices of our time and it’s hardly ever far from our reach. So, why not take full advantage of this technology and use it to stay safer by adding some very useful apps? Whether you are going for late night run or traveling alone for work, knowing that you have a few apps that will help you out in a potentially dangerous situation can give you the peace of mind you need to feel at ease. These easy-to-use, free apps will help if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.

1. React Mobile. Using GPS, this app can send silent SOS messages showing your location to pre-selected contacts. It can also send group alerts and allow family members or friends to virtually walk you home. The home screen of the app shows a React Mobile Shield that, when tapped, activates the service and sends an SOS alert with your GPS coordinates via text, email, Twitter, or Facebook. There is also a popup to call 911 if needed, and the only way to disable is by using a cancel-alert code. This app also has a feature called Follow Me, which allows permitted family and friends to follow you via GPS in real-time. To set it up, you can choose an amount of time that it will track you, and then hit the, I’m Safe button when you arrived safely so your friends and family know you are safe and sound.

2. Kitestring. While Kitestring doesn’t use GPS to track your location, it works in the opposite way and is activated by  inaction rather than action, eliminating the need to open an app or press a button. Kitestring is a web-based service that focuses on helping you safely travel from point A to point B. The app periodically checks-in and if you don’t respond, the app will alert the pre-selected contacts. You can also set a duress code, which immediately alerts all your selected contacts if you find yourself in an emergency situation. And because Kitestring uses basic text messaging, it can be used with any phone.

3. Canopy. This safety app lets you map a route, virtually check in to locations, and easily locate nearby emergency services. Canopy allows you to add people to your circle, updating them about a meeting or letting them see your exact location. This function can be helpful during a night out with friends or a weekend business trip filled with meetings. You can invite anyone you trust to your circle, and ignore any invites from those with whom you’d rather not share your whereabouts. In the case of an emergency, the app also has a 911 call button and an emergency alarm feature to help contact emergency services.

Keep in mind, you should always be aware of your surroundings and there is no substitute for dialing 911 for emergency services in an emergency. However, it may be handy to have a few of these free apps accessible and at the tips of your fingers during a time of trouble.

And although we hope you never have to use these mobile apps, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep yourself safe and give your loved ones a peace of mind by using any of these mobile apps.