October is Fire Safety Month – Safety Tips for You and Your Family

In October of 1871, The Great Chicago fire devastated much of that city, killing 300 people and leaving over 100,000 homeless. In remembrance of that horrific event, October was designated as Fire Prevention Month. During this month, fire departments across the country hold educational events focused on fire and home safety. The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2019 campaign for Fire Prevention Month is “Not Every Hero Wears A Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.” 

To support this effort, our blog this month offers tips to help keep you and your family safe:

1) Install/check your smoke alarm:

If you don’t have a smoke alarm, install one. If you have one, make sure it is maintained and working properly.

Test your smoke alarms at least once a month by pressing the test button to be sure the alarm is working.

Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside, call 911, and stay outside.

A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install alarms on every level of the home and in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area

Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all should sound.

Facts about Smoke alarms: 

Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with either no smoke alarms (40%) or no working smoke alarms (17%). 

The death rate from reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths vs. 5.7 deaths per 1,000 fires).

In fires where smoke alarms were present but did not operate, 43% of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. 

Dead batteries caused one-quarter (25%) of the smoke alarm failures.

2)    Make an Escape Plan: 

In the event of a home safety emergency, every second counts. According to the National Fire Protection Association, you may have less than two minutes to escape after your smoke alarms sound. That’s why it’s important to be prepared by planning and practicing an escape route with your family. By planning, practicing and repeating your emergency exit plan, you can help ensure a safe escape.

Here’s what to do:

Walk through your home with your family and identify multiple exits out of each room in the house. If windows or doors are blocked, clear them so they can be easily accessed and opened.

 For two-story houses, consider equipping bedrooms with escape ladders to provide additional, safe exits. If you need and escape ladder, Secur-Tek has these in stock.

 Dedicate someone to assists small children or infants out of the home.

 Assign a meeting spot outside that is a safe distance away from your house like the mailbox, tree or neighbor’s house.

 Ensure your street address is clearly visible on your home or mailbox for first responders.

 If you have children, teach them how to call 9-1-1 once outside at your meeting spot and help them memorize your home address.

 Once you have your escape plan, it’s time to practice. The NFPA recommends executing your escape plan twice a year, as well as at night.

To get started, download this home escape plan worksheet.

3)  Place properly functioning Fire Extinguishers strategically placed around your residence.

Fire extinguishers should be available on every level of the home and in areas like the kitchen and garage. Store them in accessible places or mount them on the wall for easy access in the event of any emergency. Be sure to choose the right fire extinguisher for your home’s needs.
It is important for the whole family to understand how a fire extinguisher works, so be sure to read the instructions carefully and thoroughly with them.

When using a fire extinguisher remember the PASS technique:

 P – Pull the pin

A – Aim directly at the source of the fire 

S – Squeeze the lever slowly and smoothly to get the flow even and aimed where you need it

S – Swipe back and forth to contain and eliminate all burning fuel.

4) More tips:

Kitchen fires caused by unattended cooking are a major cause of fires in Apex and throughout the country. Keep an eye on anything that you’re cooking.  Click here for kitchen safety tips.

Ensure your fireplace screen covers the entire fireplace.

Have proper ventilation for heaters and other small appliances.

Do not smoke in bed.

Use the correct size fuses.

Don’t use worn-out electrical wiring or run it under rugs or out windows or doors.

Clear refuse away — the less clutter, the less fuel a fire has to feed on.

For more information on safety and fire prevention – please go to https://www.nfpa.org or https://www.apexnc.org/335/Safety-Information.

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation, audio, and central vacuum systems. Our North Carolina service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, Pittsboro and Wake Forest.

Security System Installation: DIY vs Professional Assessment & Installation

Walking through your local home improvement store, you may notice an end aisle display of a low-priced DIY Home Security System. Maybe you’ve heard an ad or two on the radio. So, you start thinking about the list of fall home DIY projects stuck on the refrigerator door and wonder if you should add Home Security to it.

Then a couple of things enter your mind: first, it’s football season and squeezing in yet another project seems crazy – second, a home security system is a pretty important item and your family’s safety could depend on it. Third – it’s fairly technical so you wonder if a certified technician wouldn’t be better to handle it. While standing in the checkout line waiting to buy your fall fertilizer, you decide a little research is appropriate before making this critical decision.

Below are a few items to consider when evaluating the DIY route vs professionals for your Home Security System.

Will a DIY system save me money?

That’s usually the main reason people look at DIY systems. But remember, you get exactly what you pay for – a box of basic security equipment and manuals. You pay the retail price for the equipment and then add the investment of your time, which can be more or less depending on how familiar you are with the installation of electronics. After that, you still have to pay a monthly monitoring fee. Are you interested in fire detection, a smart thermostat or a doorbell camera? Check that out in advance, as some DIY security companies don’t integrate these devices, so you’ll have to purchase them separately and download multiple apps. 

When you have professionals install your security system, you get the following:

Trained and qualified technicians for installation, adjustment or repair

While doing a home project, have you ever gotten halfway through and wondered if you were really doing it right? Is the outcome always as promised? Using a certified technician will take the doubt out of the effectiveness of your security system. Secur-Tek explains the process and confirms the optimal placement of every device in your home, so you can trust your security system to work.  

Customized protection that fits your needs

Not every property, neighborhood or crime profile is the same. Secur-Tek doesn’t just bring a box of equipment and go to work. First, we meet with you to understand your security objectives and do a complete assessment of your home environment. We understand camera angles, lighting and acoustical variables that should be taken into consideration when choosing the type and placement of security and surveillance equipment. We will help you customize a complete inside and outside solution that does for you exactly what you want.

In-person support and guidance

Our experts walk you through your new security and/or smart home system step by step. They’ll answer every question you have, help set up smart rules and automation when appropriate, and leave you confident and ready to protect your home and family.

Confidence in your security system

Security systems are critical during times of emergency and stress. You need to be absolutely confident and knowledgeable about the functioning of your system during these situations.

At Secur-Tek, we are passionate about protecting you, your family and your property. We take pride in knowing every system is installed correctly and customized for your home. You can be confident in your system because our technicians test every individual device and the total system upon installation. We then walk you through it to make sure you are comfortable, knowledgeable and confident in how to operate your system effectively.

Immediate personal response

We are a locally owned and operated company. We answer our own phones and talk with you directly. We take the time to personally understand and answer any questions you may have. Our technicians are local company employees — not contractors. In addition, you can call our office and we can schedule a time at your convenience to service your equipment.

So as you think about your family’s safety and the security of your property, please take the time to reflect on the points above before making your DIY vs Professional installation decision. Please call us at 919-387-1800 for a complimentary security assessment.

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation audio, and central vacuum systems. Our service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro in North Carolina.

 

A Fall Back to School Checklist to Help Keep Your Children Safe

Fall is just around the corner. For those with children starting school, taking a few precautionary steps will help you and your children feel safer when they are home alone or coming and going with friends. To help you prepare, we have developed the following checklist, compiling information from many sources, including The Red Cross, Parent & Child Magazine, and Scholastic.com.

Test your security system. If you have a security system, test it to make sure it is working the way it should be. This a good time to review your security system password information/contact list and consider having your security system updated or monitored.

Have an emergency plan. Develop an emergency plan and talk it through with your child so they know what to do in case of fire, injury, or other emergencies. Review the emergency exits by drawing a map that outlines the best pathways to safety from each room in the house. Write the plan down and keep it in a central location. Make sure everyone in the household knows where it is. Then, hold a drill — sound the security alarm and practice what to do if it goes off. Your child should know to immediately get out of the house and call 911 from the safety of a neighbor’s house.

Post relevant phone numbers. Update your security contact list. This may include adding a new trusted neighbor, taking off students going away to college or moving out of the home. Post this list of emergency contacts in a prominent location. If children have approved access to smartphones or tablets, program this information into their speed dial numbers. You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App so they’ll have instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies.

Ensure flashlights are in assessable locations around the house. Make sure your children know where they are and that the batteries are fresh.

 Inspect your home thoroughly for any safety risks.

  • Make sure that all of the smoke detectors are functioning properly.
  • Safely store all dangerous items like guns, knives, hand tools, power tools, razor blades, ammunition and other objects that might cause injury in a securely locked safe or chest. 
  • Put away and secure any prescription drugs.
  • Ensure potential poisons like detergents, polishes, pesticides, lighter fluid and lamp oils are stored in locked cabinets or out of the reach of children.

Always check in. Make it a rule that your child calls a parent (or another adult that you designate) or leaves a message as soon as s/he gets home. This can be the first step in a daily routine that includes exercise, homework, a snack, and some downtime. If your child is older, set ground rules for going places and inviting friends over.

Lock the doors. If the home has a monitored electronic security system, children should learn how to use it to enter and rearm it when home alone for extra protection. Security systems with remote access, like Honeywell Total Connect, allow parents to be notified and view activity in the interior and exterior of their home for extra peace of mind.

Review safe usage of their cell phone and/or the home’s landline. Your child shouldn’t answer the phone for just anyone, so set up guidelines. Tell them not to answer the phone if s/he doesn’t recognize the name or number. If you have a landline that doesn’t have caller ID, tell them to let every call go to voice mail.

 Take the same way home. Have them take the same route that you have designated to and from school every day. If your child walks, review each street that s/he uses. If they take a school bus, make sure they take it every day, even if offered a ride from a friend, unless previously agreed upon by you. Knowing the route allows you to predict how long it will take them to arrive home and to trace their steps if there is ever a problem.

Caution/Remind children:

  • Not to talk about being home alone in public or on social media.
  • Never tell someone on the telephone that the parents are not at home. Say something like “He or she is busy right now. Can I take a message?”
  • Never open the door to delivery people or service representatives. Either ignore the doorbell or ask them through the door to leave the package on the porch. If you install a Skybell with your security system, the system will alert you so you can see who is at the door.

Keep them busy. Although a child needs some downtime to rest and rejuvenate, your child will be less likely to get into­ trouble if s/he’s occupied with homework, practicing music, and chores. Review what they have accomplished and give them feedback when you get home. Reinforcement is key to getting things done!

Practice first aid. Keep a first aid kit handy and review how to use the items in it with your child. Consider enrolling older children in an online Red Cross babysitting course so they can learn first aid skills and how to care for younger family members.

We hope you’ve found this checklist helpful and that you and your children will have a safe, enjoyable and active new school year!

 

Tips for Ensuring Your Family’s Safety and Security in Your New Home

The contract is signed, inspections completed, and now you are preparing to move your family to a new location. You have found a great home and neighborhood and want to ensure the safety of your family, pets and property. Here are a few simple ideas to help secure your new property and ensure your family’s peace of mind at your new location.

Thoroughly acquaint yourself with the neighborhood:

            Take the time to introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Let them know who you are and who will be living (coming and going) in your new home. In addition, find out the people active in the neighborhood watch group. Meet with them to introduce yourself and offer to do what you can to contribute. In addition, take the time to locate the local police, fire, rescue stations and hospitals to understand routes and response times. Finally, reacquaint yourself with any features of the location like local ponds, pools, walking trails, parks, etc. and review safe usage of these areas with your family.  

Take inventory and fix/enhance the safety aspects of the property:

            Check how well the entry, walkways, driveway, yard space and window areas are lit. Add lighting (motion sensor lighting is great) where lighting is not adequate. Then examine the landscaping for overgrown or poorly placed bushes that can block out lighting or give potential intruders a place to hide, especially near doors and windows.

Re-examine the doors to the exterior:

            Doors should be built out of metal or with solid wood cores and have deadbolts. Sometimes the most aesthetically pleasing decorator doors offer the least amount of safety from intrusion. Glass panels in or next to the doors offer burglar’s easy access. When possible, replace doors that offer sub-par security before moving in for ease of mind and convenience.

 

Home and property security system:

            Having a security system can give you peace of mind when moving to a new area and home. If a system is already installed, have it checked out, upgraded if needed, and activated as soon as you move in. Make sure that either you or a security system professional check out the window and door sensors for proper functioning. Over the time that the house is up for sale, contract negotiations completed and your moving in, systems can get moved/knocked around and out of alignment. So take the time to test each location and alignment of the motion sensors to ensure they are properly aimed and positioned for maximum benefit. Security systems are an economical and effective method for ensuring your new residence will offer you the safety and security your family desires.

Moving is an exciting and sometimes stressful adventure. Secur-Tek, Inc. is here to help with your home security needs. We can complete a security audit of your home and property, inspect current systems for effectiveness, and offer suggestions on the current or new systems that are right for you and your location.

Please don’t hesitate to call us at your earliest convenience — either before you actually move (which is best so we can help you get your new home secure before your family arrives) or soon after.

Thanks for reading our blog and good luck on your adventure! 

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation audio and central vacuum systems. Our service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro in North Carolina.

Should You Have Your Home Security System Monitored? Seven Things to Consider

 

We often find ourselves dealing with change:

  • Moving into a new home and neighborhood
  • Completing a home renovation project
  • Upgrading our home’s technology — smart feature, entertainment or home security
  • Personal or family changes — like seniors coming to live with you or adding a pet to the family

And when you’re dealing with the changes, you may find yourself wondering, should I have my security system monitored? If so, taking the time to clarify and think through your security situation will help you make an informed decision.

 

 Seven questions to ask when determining your home security needs:

  • Do you have children, seniors or pets that are left alone during the day? What are their ages and how self-sufficient are they? Have you ever found yourself worrying about them or their safety while you are away?
  • Has your job status or personal situation changed so you find you must travel more and spend time away from your home?
  • Have you acquired any new expensive jewelry, electronics, or family heirlooms that would be difficult to replace?
  • Do you work more than 20 – 30 minutes away from your home, making it more difficult to run home to check on things?
  • Home location – does your landscaping hide your home or is it visible from the street? Are you near major roads with lots of easy accessibility?
  • What kind of security does your neighborhood have? Police presence? Gated community? ACTIVE neighborhood watch?
  • Do you have a pool, fireplace or fire pit?

If you find yourself worrying about any of these situations, here’s what monitoring can do for you. While deterring burglars or prowlers may seem like the main function of monitoring your house, there are also other critical aspects that monitoring offers. The key to minimizing loss of property or helping individuals in need is quick response time. Fire detection, heat sensors, air quality as well as senior/child/pet alert systems can keep a potential bad home situation from turning into a disaster.

So why monitor your home if there is an alarm installed?

The typical system will have a siren go off for approximately five minutes after it is tripped. If monitored and there is no emergency in progress, the alarm can be canceled by giving the monitoring station your password. If a burglar or prowler trips the alarm, they usually leave the premise quickly. In many cases, the intruder will then hide and watch to see if there is any activity in the home, or if police/people arrive. If so, they typically will leave quickly to focus their efforts on an easier target — a non-monitored home.

Low-voltage smoke detectors connected to your monitored alarm system give quicker responses to fires — much better than relying on someone possibly noticing smoke from your house and reacting to it.

Pro Tip: If you are away and unable to respond to an alarm, it is a good idea to have a relative, trusted neighbor, or friend know the code and meet the emergency responders if the alarm is tripped. They can let the police in and check to make sure nothing is missing.

Finally, you might want to consider this – monitoring isn’t just to alert the police or fire departments. It is there for you and your family’s peace of mind.  

            True Protection — Some homeowners assume a burglar alarm making a lot of noise is enough protection. In truth, like car alarms, home alarms are often ignored by people nearby, who assume it is going off by accident.

            Other Home Issues – While not as urgent as a fire or break-in, a gas leak can cause serious problems in your home. Monitoring systems can be set up to alert you in case of a gas leak or to let you know your freezer is no longer on — indicating a power outage.

            Assistance — Monitoring systems can also notify people that you need assistance in case of a fall or other personal accident.

            Sleeping Easy — Monitoring means someone is always keeping an eye (and ear) on your home. Many security system clients say knowing someone is there offers peace of mind, making it easier to sleep at home and while away.

Bottom Line: While there is a monthly cost to monitor your home, only monitored systems have professionals to help respond to emergencies 24/7. Once you assess your lifestyle, property parameters and situation, you may see that monitoring is the right choice for you. But please be sure to always read the contract you are signing carefully to ensure you are getting the exact coverage you require for the price you deem expectable.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your security system needs, please don’t hesitate to call us!

2019 is going to be a great Year!

 

A smart home can increase your safety and convenience to help you enjoy it!

It’s a new year and believe it or not, spring is right around the corner. Now is the time for planning those 2019 home improvements you’ve been thinking about. Installing smart home features is not only a great investment and wonderful convenience; it can give you greater peace of mind.  

How does it do that you might ask? Think about:

           Traveling– If you are a person that travels a lot – either job related or if you just enjoy exploring on the weekends — you can check on your property and valuables anytime you like. Furthermore, it allows you to let family/neighbors into your home to check on plants, pets and/or elderly parents you might have living with you.

            Maybe you have children that are at the age where you know they will be okay staying at home alone but just want the peace of mind and convenience of being able to check and monitor what is happening while your away. Or even let them in when they lock themselves out (as kids often do). Again, it is also a great way to handle the logistics of senior care or infant babysitting, freeing you up to do what you need to do.

            Beyond providing essential home security, smart home system can also save you time and money. Say goodbye to wasting PTO being stuck at home during one of those infamous “anytime between noon and 5 pm” delivery windows – just have us add a Skybell video doorbell to your home security system.

            When you have smart door locks, you can let people in to drop off deliveries or make home updates from your smartphone app. An exterior door camera lets you see exactly who is arriving, indoor monitors watch the progress while they are in your home, so you know everything that is happening. In addition, a Smart Home can start saving you money immediately. Your system can turn lights on and off and smart thermostat can help automate your temperature settings saving energy while making sure your home is comfortable when you arrive. You’ll be able to remotely access and control the thermostat, set up schedules, and receive temperature alerts, all through the app on your smartphone or tablet.

            It’s a Great Investment! Statistics prove that a home security and automation system can actually help sell your home. Coldwell Banker’s annual smart-home survey, published in January 2018, asked potential homebuyers about the importance of smart home devices:

                        63% want smart locks pre-installed

                        66% want smart home security cameras pre-installed

                        75% want smart smoke detectors pre-installed

                        77% want smart thermostats pre-installed

            Flexibility, with a Smart Home from Secur-Tek, Inc. – you can start with the level of features you would like and based upon your timeframes and resources, build on as you go!

As you can see, installing a Smart Home in 2019 can make sense from an economic, safety and convenience perspective. At Secur-Tek Inc., we have highly trained, reliable and friendly people to help you choose the features and level of Smart Home that is right for you.

If you would like to learn more about the Smart Home features offered by Secur-Tek, Inc. give us a call or fill out the form below.

8 Tips for Package Theft Prevention

Will you be receiving packages this holiday season?

Packages left on the porch/mailbox are vulnerable at any time of year, but the holiday season usually means there are a few more parcels arriving at your doorstep. A study from InsuranceQuotes that examines holiday hazards  notes there were approximately 26 million thefts of deliveries from doorsteps and economic indicators show online shopping is up over 28% so far for this holiday season over last year.

Whether you’re ordering gifts online for family and friends, or receiving them from others, you’re more likely to have packages sitting vulnerable on your porch this time of the year.

To prevent your deliveries being stolen, check out these EightTips for Package Theft Prevention. 

  1. Customize delivery. If the ordering system allows you to choose the time of delivery, select a time you know you’ll be at home.
  2. Get a smart doorbell.Swap your current doorbell for a Skybell and enjoy a higher level of safety and security with remote monitoring and cloud recording features. When the delivery person rings the doorbell, you can see how and when packages are delivered. No more interruptions during family dinner or missing important packages while you’re gone! You can also check for unwanted visitors at your doorstep.
  3. Deliver decisively. If you’re not home much, consider having the package delivered to your office or a friend or neighbor’s house for safekeeping.
  4. Hold the post. If your package contains very valuable items – Have the post office or carrier hold the package. Request UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service to hold packages at their facility for you to pick up later. UPS has created a service called Access Point that enables you to choose an alternate delivery location in your neighborhood.
  5. Alert a neighbor. When you are expecting a package and won’t be home, you can ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye out for it. If you use Nextdoor.com or a similar neighborhood app you can let neighbors know if something has been stolen from your porch so they can keep an eye out and report suspicious behavior.
  6. Talk to family and friends who may be mailing your holiday gifts. Ask them to let you know when they send packages so you can watch for them.
  7. Light it up. Install outdoor lights. Your package is more likely to be stolen during daylight hours, but night falls early this time of year. Outdoor lights with motion or light sensors are a good way to keep unwanted people away from your home in any season.
  8. Monitored home security A home security system can do a great deal. If there are visible security features like cameras or alarms, potential thieves will be more likely to move along to a less protected house rather than risk getting caught by a security system. And you can even tie in your Skybell with security and automation features for greater convenience, like letting in out of town guests that arrive when you’re out doing those last-minute errands.

If you are going out of town, check out our Security Checklist before you leave.

We hope you have a great holiday season. If you’d like a quote on Skybell or would like to learn about other home Security System options to increase your peace of mind, please contact us.

 Happy Holidays to You and Your Family!!

Frequently Asked Questions on Home Security Systems

FAQs on Home Security

Do you have questions about home security systems?  We asked our staff to answer some of our customer’s frequently asked questions – check the answers below.  

How often should I test my home security system?  We recommend you test your system once a month.

How do I test my monitored home security system? I don’t want to bother the police. We are glad you asked that!  First, call the 800 number on your sticker and tell the monitoring company to put your system on test, then activate your alarm and call monitoring company back to verify alarm signals were received.   

Who do I call for service on my Secur-Tek system? To set up a service call, please call our office at  919.387.1800. Secur-Tek stands by our products and the same reliable technicians install and service our systems.

Can Secur-Tek upgrade my system?  Yes, but it does depend on the type of system you have. If you have a Honeywell home security system, we can upgrade your system by adding remote monitoring, cameras, and gas, smoke and motion detectors. If you have another type of system, we still may be able to help you, just call for a consultation or contact us.

How many cameras are needed to have a complete home security system?  The number of cameras you may need to safeguard your home depends on your home design. We can add cameras to most security systems and offer a complimentary consultation where we take a look around your home and recommend how many cameras are needed and the locations to install them.

Should I have my home security system monitored?  Having and monitoring a home security system can increase your peace of mind, especially if you travel or have valuable items in your home. For more information, see our blog on monitoring.

How much does monitoring cost?  We offer reliable, low-cost monthly monitoring. Our monitoring starts at $21.95 for standard monitoring and $31.95 for cellular.

Do you require a three-year contract?  No.

How long is the monitoring agreement?  Our monitoring contracts are just for 1 year. We don’t require long-term contracts.

Can I monitor my security system myself?  We don’t recommend it. Our monitoring goes to a company that provides monitoring 24/7 and will contact the police, fire and medical emergency agencies. They are always there to call the authorities.

What type of remote services work with your home security systems?  You can view and run your system from your smartphone or iPad with Honeywell Total Connect Services.  

What types of systems are compatible with Secur-Tek’s low-cost monitoring?  We can monitor many types of systems. To determine if your specific system can be monitored, please call your office.

We hope you found this helpful. If you live in our service area and have further questions, would like an estimate on upgrading or monitoring your security system, please give us a call at  919.387.1800

Secur-Tek, Inc. serves all of Central NC, including the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Pittsboro, Wake County, Chatham County, Durham County, Orange County, Harnett County.

Hello, Is Anyone There? The Scoop on Scams and Ghost Calls

 

How many times a day do you get phone calls, but when you answer, nobody is there?

It probably goes something like this – the phone rings, you pick it up and say “Hello” but nobody answers. This is often termed a “ghost call”, and they can be annoying.

To fix this, you stop answering calls from distant area codes. You check before answering to see if you recognize the number and it looks like the caller is local. But it’s another ghost call!  This is called ‘Caller ID Spoofing” – that’s when a caller deliberately falsifies the phone number on your caller display. Scammers have ways to make these incoming calls look like numbers similar to yours – sometimes by showing a caller ID that starts with your local area code – to entice you to pick up the call.

 

Who is making these ghost calls?   

As it turns out, although nobody answers your “Hello”, there probably is “someone” on the other end of the line: an automated computer system that’s calling your number — and tens of thousands of others — to build a list of live targets for theft.

That initial call you get, with silence on the other end, is the first reconnaissance call that scammers do. They’re trying to see if the number they are calling is associated with a human on the other end. If you even cough, it knows you are there.

The next step for them is to attempt to gather personal information like your bank or credit card account number, date of birth, Social Security Number, credit score etc. They often do this by giving you a call with a prerecorded voice. For example, “We’re calling with an important message about your debit card. If you are the cardholder please stay on the line and press 1. Otherwise, please have the cardholder call us at 1-877…”

 

Don’t call them back!

Another reason you may be getting the call with no response is when calls are part of a massive, international scam called “Wangiri” which is a Japanese word that means “one cut”. The scamming companies rely on people calling the numbers back in order to make money. “This is basically a mobile premium scam, what happens is somebody calls you, lets the phone ring once and they do it multiple times,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Delia Rickard told Hack News. “If you call them back, you may be charged a premium. Much of the revenue from these calls go to the scammer.”

 

So with all these calls targeting you, what can you do about it?

1stDon’t pick-up or answer a call unless you recognize the number or are expecting a call at that particular moment. No one is going to call with an emergency and then not leave a message. Most “unknown” calls are from bill collectors, scammers, harassment or wrong numbers. Since it is your phone and it is for your convenience then you can choose when you answer it and when you do not.

 

2nd – If you do pick up accidentally – Just Hang Up

The FTC is trying to combat the rising number of illegal automated phone calls. “It is the No. 1 consumer complaint that we receive,” says Patty Hsue, an attorney who leads the FTC’s effort against robocalls. The agency receives an average of 170,000 complaints per month about robocalls”, she related to  NPR’s Audie Cornish. The FTC recommends that consumers “just hang up” on the robocalls.

“We don’t want consumers to engage in any way with robocallers,” Hsue says. “A lot of times when you get a robocall you have the option of pressing 1 for more information or pressing 2 to ask to be removed from the list. In either case, pressing 1 or 2 basically lets the robocaller know that it’s a live person on the other line who’s willing to engage and that most probably will lead to additional robocalls.”

 

3rd – If you think it may be a legitimate call, hang up and then check the website of the organization calling. Use the website contact number to talk with a service representative. If you can’t find a website, then check the number online and see if it is reported as a scam.

 

Safety tips on handling Robo or “Ghost” calls from the FTC:

  • Never give out personal information such as account numbers, social security numbers, a mother’s maiden name, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
  • Use extreme caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password. 
  • If you receive a call and you suspect caller ID information has been falsified, or you think the rules for protecting the privacy of your telephone number have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FTC. https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1

 

How do I stop telemarketers and scammers?

The first thing to do is immediately block the caller number. You can also register your numbers with the national Do Not Call list at no cost. The national Do Not Call list protects both landline and wireless phone numbers. You can register your numbers by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY) or https://www.donotcall.gov

 

Robo, telemarketers and “Ghost” calls are not only an inconvenience, they can also be extremely damaging if you don’t handle them correctly. Please take the time to check the number before answering and remind your family and friends to do the same!

 

Much of the information presented in this blog was originated by, NPR, Hack and the FTC.

 

 

 

Tips for Saving Money and Energy While on Vacation

Did you know that you can save both energy and money while you are away on vacation? Just follow these home energy efficiency tips:

  • Turn the air conditioning down – For every degree a thermostat is raised during the summer, a homeowner can save 2-3 percent on his or her electricity bill.
  • Unplug your small kitchen appliances and tech gear. These household items are called “energy vampires” because they still draw current even when not in use. So before the family leaves, someone should walk around the house and unplug every unnecessary appliance and electronic device. Start with the television, computer, and entertainment center, but don’t forget small items like coffee pots, digital clocks, and cell phone chargers – they all drain energy when plugged in.
  • To avoid unexpected water loss and damage, turn off your main water shutoff valve.
  • Set your water heater to low or vacation mode if it has one. If you will be gone for quite awhile, shut off your water heater at the fuse box. When arriving back home, remember to turn the main shutoff valve back on and run some water in the sink to ensure your tank is full before turning it back on.
  • If you have an automated irrigation system, check to see if the rain sensor is set to ¼ inch.
  • Lower the blinds and close the curtains when leaving for vacation. This simple act will keep heat from coming in during the summer or going out during the winter.
  • Double check to ensure your smoke detectors and home security alarm systems are operating in an optimal fashion.

For tips on protecting your home and property while away, review our Leaving On Vacation Home Security Checklist at:

https://www.secur-tek.com/leaving-on-vacation-heres-your-handy-home-security-checklist/

Following both the Energy Saving and Vacation Home Security Checklists will help give you and your family peace of mind while away on vacation. So enjoy your vacation, and come back refreshed and ready to go!!

 

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!