Monthly Archives: July 2012

Spying on Employees – Is it Ethical?

Modern technology continues to arouse discussions about employers spying on employees. With throngs of business owners installing surveillance cameras in the workplace, tracking employee Internet activity on company computers, monitoring employee social networking accounts and even going so far as demanding employee passwords for these sites, the debate about the limits and ethics of employee spying wages on. Too many shades of gray prevent us from offering a definitive ‘yes or no’ answer here, but whether you are an employer or an employee, we want to offer a little food for thought to help you determine, for yourself, whether spying on employees in the workplace is ethical or not.

Employer Spying Vs. Employee Spying

Let’s be clear here. We intend for this question to be applied only to employers spying on employees. We feel it necessary to make this distinction, since there have been recent allegations of employees spying on one another, which is definitely viewed by most as being unethical. One case that immediately comes to mind is that of the employees of the New Jersey Department of Treasury spying on the tax records of other employees in the Department. Clearly, such is a violation of privacy and not something that we advocate anyone with access to a similar database try.

Employee Spying Vs. an Illegal Violation Of Privacy

Of course, there are legal limitations to consider when it comes to spying on employees. While local statutes may vary, it is not only unethical to spy on employees in certain settings, but may also be downright criminal. Placing a surveillance camera in employee restrooms or dressing rooms, for example, would be an absolute no-no on anyone’s morality scale. Such is likely to result in criminal charges, as well as costly lawsuits, for any employer involved in such disgraceful behavior. Though we may agree that there are instances where spying can be justified, a scenario like this is definitely is not one of them.

When Might Spying Be Ethical?

There are a number of situations where employee spying may be considered ethical. For example, if a company suspects that employees are stealing from a company or committing other acts that would be detrimental to business, placing a surveillance camera in a workspace is justified. Or if an employee is suspected of consistently using company time and equipment for personal business then, yes, we say it is ethical to not only spy on an employee during business hours, but to also confront the employee about such activities. Installing keystroke monitoring solutions like the Spy Cobra Deluxe PC Monitoring USB Flash Drive on a company computer can help in weeding out employees who are misusing company time or who are downright harming a company by leaking proprietary information to an outside source.

Deciding For Yourself Whether Or Not Spying is Ethical

Our suggestions for deciding whether or not employee spying is ethical is to answer a few questions on your own first:

  1. If you are an employer, how do YOU feel about spying on your workers? If you are wildly uncomfortable about hiding a surveillance camera at your company, take a close look at what is prompting your discomfort. While you may be within your rights as a business owner to do so, your personal sense of what is right and what is wrong has to be taken into consideration here.
  2. What are the laws pertaining to employee spying in your state? Discussing the matter with local law enforcement, as well as your own legal counsel will help you determine whether (and to what extent) employee spying is legal in your area or not. If you are business owner, discussing the matter with your board of directors is a good idea before making a decision to spy on your employees.
  3. What might the effects of employee spying be on your company and on your employees? Some studies have shown that employees develop a deep sense of mistrust toward employers who spy on employees. Workplace surveillance can create strained relationships between employers and their employees, and may even contribute to a decrease in work quality and productivity. In extreme cases, workplace spying may even increase employee stress levels, which can eventually lead to an increase in missed work due to stress-related illnesses.

Reducing the Need For Employee Spying

One approach rarely discussed in workplace spying debates is how to reduce the need for employee spying in the first place. For one, publishing written guidelines about employee interactions, equipment usage and communication standards can help employers and employees adhere to a common understanding of the type of behavior that is expected in the workplace. Also, requiring employees to log in and out when using electronic devices, such as cash registers and computers, may reduce the misuse of these items. Installing a fake camera can also strongly encourage employees to abide by workplace ethics and values. Though this latter suggestion is more than a bit deceptive, it can also be quite effective in reducing workplace negligence without going so far as actually spying on employees.

Options For Everyone

So while there are instances where employee spying is completely ethical, it is an activity that employers must weigh very carefully first. Computer software and other surveillance equipment is not only available to help employers monitor their employees, but these devices are also affordable and easy to self-install. And, for those who are hesitant about employee spying, fake equipment may be a viable solution to improving workplace productivity and behavior without literally spying on individual workers.

We now turn the question of spying on employees over to you– is it ethical or not?

Are Fake Cameras Really Effective?

The short answer to this question is, yes, fake cameras are effective. When creating your own home security system, it is important to understand the concept of layering security and of using deterrents as a part of that process. By installing multiple security devices, using signs and gadgets that make a thief think twice about a break in, and even using decoy products like fake cameras, you can create a multi-layered, very effective system of home defense.

Burglary Deterrents

Many homeowners simply invest in a security alarm and an alarm monitoring service while believing that this is enough to create a strong home security system. While an alarm and monitoring are excellent starts, much more can be done and should be done to secure a home. Other security measures should include things like outdoor lighting, security signs and decals, and surveillance cameras. Each of these items serve as a burglary deterrent. Or, to put it another way, these devices let an individual burglar know that you mean business and that proceeding with his plans will likely be detrimental to his freedom. Whether a camera is real or fake, as long as it looks like an actual surveillance device it will have the same effect on a burglar’s thought process and will encourage him to bypass your house altogether.

Using a Burglar’s Ignorance to Your Advantage

Understand that most burglars are none too sophisticated when it comes to identifying security device particulars. While on the job, they will not take the time to closely scrutinize a security device in trying to determine whether it is real or fake. Simply, thieves see a surveillance camera and make a natural assumption that it is real and that it is poised to catch them in the act. On sight alone, this is enough to cause a thief to look elsewhere for an easy score.

Can You Tell a Difference?

Compare two of the many surveillance cameras offered at the Home Security Store: the Atrix 36 IR Weatherproof Bullet Camera and the Fake Security Camera by WINN. Of course, you have the advantage of knowing that one is real and that the other is not. On sight alone, however, could you honestly tell the difference? Would you be willing to commit a crime in plain sight of the fake security camera?

Short-Term Surveillance Solution

Of course, a real surveillance camera is always a better option than a fake one. However, if you cannot yet afford a real surveillance system or if you are simply looking for a temporary security solution, such as guarding a vacant investment property, a fake camera can be almost as effective as a real one. As deterrents alone, both types of cameras serve a useful purpose.

Combining Real and Fake Cameras

While you can purchase a relatively affordable multi-channel surveillance camera system, it is possible to create the illusion of a multi-camera system by installing real surveillance cameras along with fake cameras at the same property. Such can be particularly useful for a large home or simply for a homeowner who is in the process of creating a multi-channel system, but cannot afford to invest in all of the cameras needed at the same time.

This concept of installing fake cameras along with real ones is currently being used in at least one Northern California community plagued by crime. News reports indicate that the community of Oakland Hills has invested in multiple surveillance cameras that are installed throughout that neighborhood and, while most of the cameras placed there are real, a few decoy cameras have also been spread throughout the community. In this same way, homeowners can deter crime by simply installing fake cameras at strategic locations around a property along with real cameras and, thus, giving the impression that a property is under tight surveillance even though only one or two cameras are actually functioning.

What to Look For When Buying a Fake Camera

While fake cameras are a short-term inexpensive alternative to the real thing, a poorly made fake camera constructed out of cheap materials may not be as effective. By the way, the same can be said for a real surveillance camera, too. In order to assure that your fake camera will serve as a good deterrent, there are a few things that you should look for when purchasing one. First, only purchase a camera made with a durable metal surface just like a real camera would feature. Second, look for a camera with a flashing red light intended to mimic an LED light featured on most real surveillance cameras.

Tell Us What You Think

We now turn the question over to you: What do you think about fake cameras? Have you used them in the past? Can you tell the difference between real and fake cameras? We look forward to your comments in the space provided below.

Burglars Love Homeowners with Daily Routines

Sometimes, criminals will monitor a homeowner’s daily routine before deciding to burglarize a house. Often referred to as casing or staking a home out, burglars study the daily habits of a home’s occupants in order to determine the best time to strike. Upon learning about criminals who operate in this fashion, homeowners often begin to think about their own patterns regarding the times in which they leave for work and the times that they return. While burglars do study departure and return times, there is a lot more to consider when assessing your daily routines.

Security Systems

Even with working home security systems in place, some homeowners neglect to arm their alarms on a consistent basis. This even includes times when at home performing household chores or simply outside chatting with a neighbor. Believe it or not, criminals often only need between two and ten minutes in order to enter a home and steal its valuables. Establishing a routine of regularly neglecting to lock doors and windows, or forgetting to arm a home security system for even a few minutes can be an open invitation for a burglar who has been lying in wait to rip you off.

Who’s Watching You?

Often, people only think of burglars as strangers who easily stand out in a crowd of familiar faces, but such is not always the case. Burglars live in all sorts of neighborhoods and are often the people you would suspect the least. Yes, your neighbor, your neighbor’s teenager, your gardener and even a regular deliver person can moonlight as a thief. With this in mind, be aware that someone very close to you may be watching your every move at any given time. Regardless of whether a burglar is familiar to you or not, note that slight changes in your habits and daily routines can make your home a more difficult target.

Change Your Daily Routines

By very carefully altering your daily routines, you can frustrate and confuse a burglar who considers your home a target. Therefore, if you have a job with a flexible schedule, practice leaving home and returning at different times of the day. Also, if you live close to your job or work in the field, stop by your house every now and then when you have a break in your schedule.

Make it a point to also pay close attention to the things that you do when you are at home. For instance, if you have a habit of turning your sprinklers on as soon as you get home, consider placing them on a timer to water your lawn at earlier times, instead. Or, if you always park your car in front of your house, consider parking it in the garage a few days per week just to throw anyone who is watching off. Things like randomly changing the times that you walk the family dog or deciding that at least one family member stays behind when Fido needs a break are also good suggestions for altering daily routines.

Weekend Routines

Though they occur less often than weekday routines, regular weekend activities should also be altered. Whenever possible, the times of standing social, faith-based and recreational activities should be randomly changed so that a homeowner does not have a reliable weekend schedule. Homeowners who regularly take weekend trips are also advised to use caution when scheduling such getaways.

Vacation Habits

A break in a daily routine can also alert a criminal to a possible break-in opportunity. Most homeowners already know to make arrangements for mail to be held at the post office or for a friend to retrieve mail while homeowners are on vacation, but burglars seeking to confirm that a homeowner is not at home may use crafty means of doing so such as deliberately sliding a business card inside of a door just to see if anyone opens the door and removes it. When leaving home for more than a day, designate someone to visit your house daily in order to assure that certain telltale routines are kept.

Beware of Internet Savvy Thieves

Social media sites and applications are an easy way for a thief to monitor your whereabouts. Individuals who interact with others online and via handheld devices frequently post about their daily activities, such as a weekly stop at a favorite happy hour location or a daily early morning run. People who routinely use applications allowing them to check-in during a visit to local business should also be aware that the habit of doing so is a great way for a burglar to track your whereabouts. To avoid this type of scrutiny, do not post your whereabouts while away from home (and never share your upcoming plans to be away). Make it a habit to only post about your activities and any accompanying photographs after you have returned home. And, by all means, resist using check-in applications to advertise where you are at any given time.

Helpful Daily Routines

There are some daily routines that burglars absolutely despise. For instance, homeowners who keep their home security system armed at all times, even when they are at home, make it very difficult for thieves to pinpoint a good time to enter a residence. Also, automated outdoor lighting that is set to come on at dusk and go off at dawn establishes a security routine that thieves prefer not to second-guess. Ditto with automated indoor lighting.

Think about all of your daily routines and begin to consider ways in which you can alter them to a thief’s disadvantage. Remember that your primary objective is to appear unpredictable so that a burglar cannot calculate a plan to enter your home based on your existing schedule.

Tips for Single Women Living Alone

We can never offer too many home security tips for women, particularly to those who live alone. This isn’t because we wish to trigger anyone’s sense of paranoia, but we do intend to empower women by offering solid home and personal security advice. In recognizing the unfortunate fact that female headed households are sometimes very specific crime targets, we strongly recommend that you read and share the following tips for single women living alone.

Of course, among the most important safety rules that a woman can benefit from are those that call for a multi-layered home security system. Such includes a security alarm, a video surveillance system, security signs and outdoor lighting. These items are easy to install, can be hardwired or wireless and can even be used by women living in rental properties. In addition to using these products and devices, single women living alone should consider other security measures, such as:

Schedule Service Visits Carefully

When scheduling service visits and deliveries, single women should go a step further by also arranging for a friend or a family member to be present at those times. Most laborers are trustworthy and professional, but occasional reports of crimes traced to individuals previously dispatched to homes on routine service calls do occur. In order to minimize the risk of a woman living alone being victimized by a similar crime, it is a good idea for her to arrange service visits for times when another trusted adult can also be in the home.

Door Intercom

Repeatedly, we’ve warned about burglars knocking on front doors while posing as salesmen or some other non-threatening stranger. While their goal is to determine whether or not someone is at home, some criminals are not deterred by a woman answering the front door, particularly if he believes that she lives alone. In order to avoid a criminal’s bad intentions in such a scenario, we suggest that every single woman living alone install a video door intercom enabling her to see who is at the door. Some models even allow a woman to communicate with a visitor without even having to physically approach the door. With this type of home security device, a criminal is not able to peer inside or develop a good sense of who else is in the home. Most importantly, however, a thug is not able to strong-arm his way past a woman and forcibly enter her home.

Panic Button

The ability to immediately call for help is priceless. Luckily, wireless panic buttons are also affordable. These clever devices do not require complicated installation instructions, but can be worn on a woman’s person while at home or placed in strategic locations throughout the house in order to allow her to summons help with the simple press of a button any time of the day or night.

GPS Enabled Tracking

We live in an age where location-based technology makes it possible for us to recover missing vehicles, monitor the whereabouts of our children and assists us with turn-by-turn driving directions when in unfamiliar places. This same technology can also be useful to single women living alone as small, unobtrusive devices can be used to monitor a woman’s location. To some, carrying such a device may sound like an abandonment of privacy, but the reality is that devices like the SecuraTrac SecuraPal GPS Tracking Device allow a woman living alone to access a personal panic button to call for help when needed and even feel confident that the device can be located in the event of an actual emergency. Small enough to fit into a purse or even a pocket, this device sends GPS satellite signals from inside the home, but also works outside of the home and can even work as a woman travels internationally.

Date In Public

A single woman living alone should strictly avoid hosting a first date at home or even allowing a new suitor to pick her up or escort her back to her home address after a date. Instead, the first few meetings should always be in a public, well-lit place until. Doing so will reduce a woman’s risk of being burglarized while she is away from home, as well as significantly reduce the chances of her being victimized by a physical crime inside of her home.

Personal Protection

Women living alone should always keep personal protection items, such as pepper spray, nearby and ready to ward off an attacker. These items should be kept inside of a woman’s purse, as well as next to her bed at night, in her desk while at work and at other key locations that are within her reach throughout the day. Used correctly, these products can cause criminals to flee or, at the very least, temporarily stun an attacker long enough for a woman to make a safe escape.

Door and Window Locks

While it is a given that doors should remain locked at all times, many women are unaware that certain locks can be bumped and, thus, allow criminals unfettered access to a home. Flimsy window locks are also not difficult to pry open. With this in mind, women living alone should either install locks that cannot be bumped or invest in products like the Keypout Lock Bumping/Dead Bolt Protector which prevents locks from being bumped. Pin locks should also be installed on every window frame in a woman’s home, which will prevent windows from sliding open even if factory latches are tampered with.

Many of the devices relating to the tips shared here are available at the Home Security Store and can be relatively easy to install. Our support team is always on hand to answer specific product questions.

Remember to share this post with a woman that you love and add any tips that we may have missed in the comments section below.

Home Security Store releases the First of a Series of Infographics covering Burglary in America

Home Security Store’s latest infographic, entitled “Odds of Burglary in America” indicates that the South has more burglaries than other regions, with Houston being the city with the very highest burglary rate, followed by Chicago and Dallas, says infographic artist Justin Marini.

The infographic was created by home security ecommerce retailer Home Security Store and features information provided by the FBI and the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.

Penelope’s Oasis, a website that covers a whole medley of different topics from marriage to security, helped Home Security Store launch this infographic.

“Home Security Store and Penelope’s Oasis are sharing the campaign to help keep your family and home safe from burglars by promoting simple preventative steps, such as having good lighting around your home and making sure that your home always looks occupied.  All this can make a huge difference as to how appealing the home is to a potential burglar,” said Marini, a father of two.

Infographics, or information graphics, are graphic visualizations of information, data, or knowledge, adds Marini.  “The graphs can be very useful in understanding complex information.  The information we present is not too complex, but does serve as an eye opener for some homeowners who may think they are safer than they really are.”

Other statistics displayed in the infographic indicate that 73% of all burglaries are residential burglaries, with only 27% being commercial, making home alarm systems increasingly important for homeowners in order to protect themselves, their families, and property.

Other findings in the “Odds of Burglary in America” infographic include –

  • A burglary in America is committed once every 15 seconds.  This adds up to about 13 million home break-ins, or one out of every 20 homes.

 

  • From 10AM to 3PM is the time most burglaries occur.  This is when residents are most likely to be at work or school.

 

  • A single-family home in the middle of the block is more likely to be broken into than a home on a corner lot.  This is likely because a house in the corner is more easily seen and burglars, of course, do not want to get caught.

 

Again, Home Security Store will be creating a series of infographics giving tips on staying safe and protecting the family and the home.   A new infographic will be featured each month.  Stay tuned for Home Security Store’s next infographic entitled, “Characteristics of a Burglar”.

Please note that website bloggers can copy the infographic onto their own site to share with friends and readers by downloading here –

http://www.homesecuritystore.com/infographic/odds-of-burglary-in-america.html

Amateur Spy Tips

Monitoring your home may sometimes require extraordinary measures, such as spying on individuals within your own household. From a cheating spouse to a misbehaving teenager to a sticky-fingered roommate, there are times when you may have to covertly observe a person’s actions before you can confront certain behaviors. As disturbing as this time in your life may be, the last thing that you need is to waste time guessing about how to best gather the information that you need to bring certain situations to a halt. We hope to eliminate some of that guesswork with the reading of this post.

You’ve Been Warned

A word of caution is in order before spying on anyone, even within your own home. First, realize that some spy tactics are illegal in certain jurisdictions. Before using any of the following tips, we suggest that you research all applicable laws to be sure that you are not violating any with your amateur spy activities. Also, realize that once you begin covertly monitoring certain activities, you may end up discovering more than you bargained for. While we are sure that you would like to know the truth of whatever situation you are dealing with, we hope that you will take time to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to maturely handle any possible outcome.

Watch and Listen

There are a number of surveillance techniques that will allow you to quietly observe a person from a remote location. For instance, a strategically placed voice-activated tape recorder can help record hours of audio conversations. A home video camera may also be useful in capturing both audio and video footage. These items, however, are often difficult to position in a location where they will not be noticed. In addition to this, weak batteries and background noise can often render these items useless as dependable spy devices.

Instead, we recommend using surveillance systems that were specifically designed for covert, remote use. The best products in this category are the ones that look like other functional devices, but actually serve dual purposes. For instance, the functional smoke detector covert color camera not only works to protect a home from smoke and fire danger, but also covertly records audio as well as video surveillance footage. A device like this one is rarely suspected as being a spy device since smoke detectors are so common in every home and business throughout the nation. When was the last time that you even took a second look at one in someone’s home, much less wondered whether it was recording your every move?

Follow That Car

If your spy activities ever lead you outside of the home, it is important that you know how to inconspicuously follow someone. We’ve all seen a television drama or two where someone directly tails someone just by following a few cars behind them. Or, worse, where someone jumps into a cab and yells, “follow that car!” Sure, these methods can work, but neither one of these techniques are the most effective when it comes to truly following someone that you suspect of wrong-doing.

A better way to approach finding out where your teen is sneaking off to or where your missing money is being spent is to use a car that your suspect does not recognize. Also, instead of following directly behind a person, even two or three cars behind them, follow them from a safe distance in a neighboring lane, if possible. The likelihood of you being noticed in the rear of the same lane is greater since this is the most obvious place that someone paranoid of being caught is likely to look. Unless very experienced in being followed, few people will identify an unfamiliar car that is several car lengths behind them in a neighboring lane as a tail.

Record Those Keystrokes

These days, home security often leads us down high tech pathways. Before you break the law by stealing a cheating spouse’s password or spend hours trying to research your kid’s Internet history, consider investing in spy software that you can place on your home computer. Devices like the Spy Cobra Deluxe PC Monitoring USB Flash Drive will record every single keystroke made on a computer and will even allow you to watch these keystrokes in real time! Should you not be able to monitor a computer’s activities as they occur, this nifty device will also record screenshots and even email them to you for later scrutiny (and evidence).

Just In Case

While we hope that you’ll never have reason to use any of these tips, we also hope that we have given you a few worthwhile ideas just in case you do. Remember, to investigate all local, state and federal laws about using these spy techniques before you actually do so.

Sound Off

How have you managed to covertly collect information in order to confront someone close to you in the past? Tell us about the spy techniques you’ve tried and how they’ve worked for you.

Deception at Your Doorstep – A Look at Devious Door-to-Door Sales Tactics

Are you aware of some of the deceptive practices criminals sometimes take to bypass home security systems? Do you know that some of these practices cost homeowners a lot more than the valuables inside of a home, but may even lead to high monthly bills or even compromise one’s personal credit and finances? Thieves are using a variety of methods to steal valuables and information, and some of them may even appear to be home security representatives.

Beware of Salespeople, Service Workers and Other Unexpected Visitors

We all know that burglars look for weak areas in home security in order to gain access to a home. Some even take the time to knock on doors while posing as harmless business persons in hopes of a homeowner inviting them inside. Beware that this is precisely how so many criminals are successful in staging home invasion robberies, which often result in a homeowner’s bodily harm as well as a loss of property.

Beware of Random Visits By Home Security Representatives

Unscrupulous workers in the security industry are also out to take advantage of homeowners. They do so by pretending to be with a homeowner’s security company and working to convince them to upgrade to more expensive devices and services that aren’t needed. In fact, not long ago, a very well known security company took to social media to warn its customers about individuals pretending to be representatives of the company and insisting that homeowners upgrade their security systems. Of course, these sudden upgrades were also accompanied by lengthy contracts which have been rather costly to the homeowners who were suckered into them.

Thankfully, it is impossible for our customers to be taken in by such a scam. By purchasing and installing your own security system, no one can pull the wool over your eyes by telling you that your security company insists that you purchase an upgraded system. Your access to comparable, but less expensive monitoring also makes you the least likely for con artists to lure into a new, much higher-priced monitoring contract.

Beware of Visitors Urging You to Share Personal Information

Other con artists are also working to find ways to prompt you to give personal, highly sensitive information such as your credit card information, social security numbers and banking account numbers. By pretending to be utility workers, insurance salespeople or even home security representatives, thieves are encouraging homeowners to complete phony paperwork all for the purpose of acquiring this sensitive data. Of course, with this information in hand, thieves are wreaking havoc on people’s credit and financial lives.

Avoid becoming a victim of identity theft by refusing to divulge your personal information to anyone who approaches you at home unless you have specifically scheduled an appointment for them to visit and discuss their services. If you are ever unsure, do not hesitate to call the company directly to  investigate a worker’s credentials. You may even want to create a rule for yourself that you do not conduct such sensitive business in your home and choose, instead, to only do so at the offices of the business you are patronizing.

Defend Yourself Against Deception

In addition to installing and personalizing your own home security system, you must be vigilant about crime, in general. It is not enough to simply arm your system, but you must also know how a criminal thinks, understand the ploys he uses and outsmart him at every opportunity. For example, in order to avoid a criminal gaining access to your home by pretending to be a service worker, utility worker or other trusted professional, simply make it a rule to not open your door to strangers. Installing a video intercom helps by making it possible for you to communicate with unexpected guests without having to actually open your front door. In fact, with a device like the Atrix Wireless 2-Way Video Intercom you do not even need to approach the door in order to see, hear and communicate with whomever is there.

Information Empowers and Protects

While most burglars prefer an easy entry and exit, be aware that some are making more of an effort to rob you of your valuables. Staying abreast of some of the latest ploys helps to protect you from becoming a victim of these sorts of crimes. Should a suspicious character resembling any of the criminals detailed above someday find his way to your doorstep, for your own good and the good of all of your neighbors, be sure to contact your local authorities immediately.

We Want to Hear From You

Have you ever been suspicious of someone approaching your front door unexpectedly? Care to share any advice on how you handled such a scenario? We always appreciate hearing from you and look forward to your comments below.

Read Merchant Policies to Prevent Cyber Fraud

While opportunities for conducting business and pursuing lifestyles online have exploded in recent decades, the growing capabilities offered by internet access are not without their potential risks. Cyber fraud has become an alarmingly widespread concern, with many people and companies finding themselves facing serious losses that may be difficult if not impossible to recover. There are several ways to fight back against the perpetrators of cyber fraud, many of which involve getting informed and taking basic security steps to ensure that the most common tricks and ploys don’t make it past your personal radar. Among these methods, actually reading merchant policies can be one of the most effective. Though cyber fraud can occur in situations that do not involve making online purchases, many such incidents do center on taking advantage of people who wish to shop over the internet. Efforts to curb this activity and to generate trust in those merchants who are only out to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity have resulted in the widespread adoption of policy publication, and these tools can be used by consumers to provide a new layer of security to their shopping activities online.

Actually sitting down and reading the full contents of a company’s policy may seem like an outrageous task. After all, many parts of modern life involve the implicit or direct approval of policies that aren’t often, if ever, truly read all the way through. Though taking policies lightly may be a perfectly admissible practice in some contexts, it can lead to disaster when money or important personal data is being handed over. For this reason, it’s a good idea to look into the policies of any merchants that are used over the internet before making an initial purchase. Though it may seem that policies, whether for privacy, returns, guarantees, or other terms are excessively long and made confusing with legal jargon, quickly reading through these documents can yield positive results even without lots of free time or a background in law. People are likely to be able to pick up on policies that seem suspicious or which attempt to hide some important or potentially misleading piece of information. In the space of five or ten minutes, it may be possible to prevent days or even longer periods of strife and inconvenience from cyber fraud.

In some cases, companies and unscrupulous individuals may make a concerted effort to render their policies almost impossible to comprehend. Others may not have such policies available for review by the public at all. In either situation, rather than risking personal finances, time, and peace of mind, it may be well worth it to simply opt-out of the deal in question and to look for the desired items or services elsewhere. One of the greatest advantages of the volume of business conducted over the internet today is the availability of products and services from many different vendors, some of which may be of different levels of quality or expertise, and mail hail from different nations and backgrounds. There are truly very few circumstances in which there is only one entity offering something of value, and people who are faced by arcane and inconvenient policies or who cannot find readily-available information regarding such policies from a merchant may find their shopping experience far more satisfying by simply seeking out a different merchant.

For whatever reason, of course, it may be that a certain merchant is highly desirable. Whether it’s a steep discount, a recommendation from a friend or colleague, or some other incentive, people may feel especially drawn to a certain vendor yet still experience difficulty in finding or deciphering their policies. When this happens, it may be worthwhile to look for relevant information on the merchant’s reputation. A long-standing rapport created with a large number of customers for a range of products or services can help show that a company has earned –and likely deserves– trust, though it must be kept in mind that such details can be fabricated. A more secure, if certainly more costly, approach to discovering whether a merchant is really a good choice is seeking the services of a legal professional. Depending on the size of the purchase in question and various other elements of the proposed transaction, paying a small amount of money for an hour or so of a lawyer’s time may be a fairly easy and straightforward –and of course, effective– way to get a good answer.

Though cyber fraud can happen even to people who make an attempt to protect themselves, there are many ways that the risk of becoming a cyber fraud victim can be minimized. By paying closer attention to merchant policies, many routes of perpetrating cyber fraud are effectively destroyed.

Have You Thought About Your Home’s Environmental Management Lately?

How often do you think about environmental management at your home? Besides adjusting the heat and air conditioning as needed, it’s likely that you are like most people and don’t give much thought to environmental control at all. Yet, each and every day a home is severely damaged or destroyed due to environmental hazards. While we emphasize home security in terms of keeping intruders out, we also want to encourage you to think about keeping your home safe from very real threats such as extreme temperatures and flood waters. To enable you to do so, we offer several different systems and devices to assist you in gaining better environmental control at home.

When the Unexpected Happens

Imagine going on vacation for a couple of weeks only to return to broken water pipes which have caused your entire house to flood. This exact scenario happened to my brother-in-law as he escaped to California for a break from a particularly cold winter. Unfortunately, his home’s pipes were ill-prepared for the freezing cold weather and, upon his return, he was greeted with a river of water running throughout his entire home and into his yard. Had he installed one of our environmental control systems such as the Control Products Wireless Water Alarm System or even the Wireless Freeze Temperature Alert and Phone Dialer he could have been alerted about the dangerously cold temperature and flooding at his home. With forewarning, he may have been able to appoint someone to protect his pipes or even to stop the flood waters before too much damage was done.

Protect Your Home at All Times

Most of us have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed at home to protect us from smoke, fire and gas emergencies. While these devices serve very important purposes, we must be aware of other potential dangers, as well. A good environmental management system can protect your home from catastrophes such as frozen or broken pipes; fire caused by a dryer’s lint screen; accidental flooding from washing machines, sinks, water heaters, dishwashers and toilets; and a host of other very costly household hazards.

Who is Monitoring the Environment at Your Vacation Home?

Environmental control is as important for a vacation home as it is for a primary residence, too. For example, the Control Products Temperature Alarm Dialer enables homeowners to remotely monitor the temperature of a home. It sounds a piercing alarm when temperatures make drastic changes and this particular device even dials up to three separate telephone numbers to notify homeowners when a real temperature threat arises. This type of monitoring system is invaluable for individuals who do not spend a lot of time at a property, yet can still appreciate knowing if and when danger due to extreme heat or cold is present. A lack of temperature control and awareness can often lead to structural damage, as well as damage to appliances, computer equipment and other items of value.

Special Environments

Temperature controls also play an important role in helping to regulate very sensitive environments, such as greenhouses and cold storage locations. Without reliable controls, the damage suffered by home and business owners could be devastating if temperatures were ever to drastically change in one of these environments. Homeowners relying upon a device containing a temperature sensor, on the other hand, can take comfort in knowing that they will immediately be made aware of temperature threats.

No Excuses Necessary

As with other home security systems, environmental management devices are easy to install and make for great DIY weekend projects. Most people find these products to also be quite affordable, particularly when installation costs are nonexistent. When considering the safeguard each provides, as well as the peace of mind in knowing that a home or a business has environmental alerts in place, there simply is no reason for every homeowner not to invest in environmental management devices.

Environmental Management in Households With Special Needs

While environmental controls and alert systems should be installed in every home, they play a particularly important role in the homes of the elderly and disabled. Ignoring the potential hazards of rising and falling temperatures or of water catastrophes can be fatal for any household, but even more so in those where a person is in poor health or where one’s physical senses have begun to decline. In addition to safeguarding your own household, we urge you to also think about installing environmental control devices in the homes of vulnerable loved ones.

Explore Your Options

Our main site has an entire section dedicated to environmental controls. We sincerely hope that you will take the time to browse that section and educate yourselves on the different devices available to you, as well as the potential risks involved with ignoring environmental management. You may also want to contact your insurance company to determine whether environmental controls can help lower your premium and precisely which types your insurance company recommends.

Tell Us What You Think

What are some of the ways that you currently regulate your home’s environment? Have you installed any environmental control devices at your home or business? We always appreciate your feedback and look forward to your comments below.

How to Choose a DIY Home Security System

Congratulations on deciding to install a do-it-yourself home security system. As you have come to realize that there is no need to pay additional money to third-party security vendors and installers, you have joined the ranks of homeowners who understand how to cut costs without compromising quality or security. The next step in your process, actually choosing which system to install, can seem rather intimidating at first, but with time and a few helpful tips you will soon be on your way to  selecting the precise do-it-yourself system needed to help keep your home as secure as possible.

Assess Your Needs

Prior to purchasing a system, you must know exactly what you need in terms of security. Take a look at our home security checklist to determine areas where security is lacking and work on fortifying these most vulnerable areas first. Next, take the time to count all of the doors and windows in your home that lead to outdoor access. Realize that each of these needs to be secured with alarm sensors. It is best not to skimp on the number of door and window contacts that are needed, so select your system with this in mind, but realize that you may also need to purchase additional contacts to be certain that all entry points are secured.

Wireless vs. Hardwired

After reviewing our home security checklist and identifying the number of doors and windows you will need to secure, you are ready to begin evaluating home security devices. One of the first things that you will notice is that devices are offered in hardwired and wireless types. While there is no real difference between the two in terms of performance and reliability, the decision on which type to select will likely boil down to your personal preference as well as your home’s structure.

One exception to making a decision based upon preference, however, is if you intend to secure a larger than average home. In this case, you will do well to explore hardwired options in order to be certain that all sensors are able to communicate well with the alarm’s main unit (which may be inhibited if they are too far away from  one another). On the other hand, if you live in a home where drilling holes into your house’s walls is not an option (or is one that you would rather avoid), a wireless system is definitely in order.

Survey Others

Now that you have a general idea of what type of system you will need, you may want to delve deeper into your research by asking friends and family members about their home security systems. If possible, look for people who have installed their own home security system and ask for recommendations and tips on doing so. As you turn to others for information, make note of the types of problems, if any, people report and begin to research ways to avoid these issues. For example, some people may report frequent false alarms. While this may be due to faulty equipment, it is far more likely that false alarms are due to human error, pet interference or some other user-related circumstance.

Look For Answers

During this selection phase, research remedies for whatever security device issues that you become aware of or contact a member of our technical support team to discuss how such problems can be avoided with a DIY home security system. This is also a good time to begin reading user reviews on consumer forums. As well, it is a good time to begin watching our video tutorials for clues about installing a system, the tools you will need and troubleshooting tips.

Think Big

Assuming that you are starting your DIY home security preparations with an alarm system, it is also a good idea to think about which types of devices you may want to add later. For instance, some people choose to install security cameras or outdoor lighting after installing an alarm system. If you intend on doing so, be sure to purchase a system that will make installing additional components possible. Thinking about expanding your system from day one and making the right preparations, makes it easier to actually do so when you are ready.

Be Serious

While a perusal of our main site proves that you have multiple, very high-quality security devices to choose from, when it comes to purchasing a DIY home security system, the most important point that we want you to be aware of is that this is an important and serious decision. When selecting a system, do not assume that you can afford to cut corners in certain areas because of something like living in a nice neighborhood or because someone in your household is always at home.

Anyone at Any Time Can Be Targeted for Burglary

As someone who often works from home and lives in a nice middle-class neighborhood, the last thing that I ever expected was for my then teenage son to walk in on burglars in our home while I made a rare visit to a friend’s house in the middle of the afternoon. Yet, this is exactly what happened nearly a decade ago. Not only did I lose valuables (some of which were irreplaceable because of what they meant to me), but I could have also lost my young son who narrowly escaped from the burglars who turned on him as he entered our home.

A Valuable Lesson Learned

That day, I learned that living on a quiet cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood may have actually been what caused our home to become a target. These bold thieves were looking for holiday treasures and this type will often purposely target homes where they are likely to score big ticket items, such as jewelry, expensive electronics, tools and so forth. So, when choosing a DIY home security system, begin the process by thinking of your home as the exact type that burglars are looking for. From that point forward, make it your mission to do everything in your power to keep criminals outside and your family safe while inside. Beginning and ending your selection process with this in mind will help you in choosing the most secure system for your home.