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Most home security tips are obvious: lock and bolt your doors whenever you leave the house, close and lock your windows, and install a high-quality home security system. But intuitive actions aren’t the only ones you can take to protect your home. Try the clever tricks below to make your home more secure than ever before.

  1. Add a Hidden Door

A few years ago, a YouTube user uploaded a video of her home that gave viewers a look at its secret entrance. The woman had added in a door that seamlessly blends in with the home’s siding. The handle is masked as the outdoor spigot that looks completely real but isn’t hooked up to the plumbing.

The door itself is made of sturdy, affordable fiberglass with a red cedar wood frame. Smartest of all, the door is automated so the homeowner can lock the deadbolt automatically from any room in the house.

  1. Hide Your Key in Uncommon Spots

By now, most people—including burglars—know about hollow rocks and upturned pots that mask keys. Instead of hiding your key in an obvious location, like under the mat or beneath or plastic rock, try these more creative hiding spots:

  • A birdhouse. Hook the key beneath the birdhouse or right inside of it. Of course, the birdhouse trick only works if the birdhouse looks like a natural part of your yard, so fill it with seed that attracts local birds.
  • The doghouse. If your dog has an outdoor kennel, find a clever spot inside to store the key. Just make sure your dog won’t be able to dig up and play with—or snack on—the key.
  • Beneath the outdoor air conditioning unit. If there are gaps between the air conditioner’s cement base and the unit itself, you might be able to tuck a key out of sight.
  1. Leave Out Decoy Items

Most casual thieves only spend a few minutes inside a home. Unless they’ve spent time casing the property, they’ll usually break in when the owners are away, grab the most expensive items they see, and dash away.

Since thieves will snag the first items they come across, consider leaving out decoy items that thieves will snatch instead. For instance, if you have an old laptop you no longer use, consider setting it an obvious position on the kitchen island—thieves who don’t look particularly closely will nab the decoy computer instead of searching through your possessions for a better laptop.

Of course, this strategy only works if you put away your expensive items like laptops and jewelry before you leave the house.

Do you have other clever ideas for enhancing your home’s security? Share them in the comment section below!

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5 Ways to Avoid Dangerous Security Scams

by Hannah Kerns on February 2, 2017

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In a perfect world, you could trust any salesperson who came to your doorstep. Unfortunately, not everyone who approaches you with a good bargain is exactly who they seem.

Every summer, homeowners fall victim to home security system scams and lose hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars to fake salespeople. In a worst-case scenario, a fake salesperson can use your information to either steal your identity or break into your home later to take expensive items.

Fortunately, it only takes following a few easy steps to avoid security scams. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  1. Always Ask for ID

Before you let any technician or salesperson inside your home, ask to see their credentials. All real employees should be able to verify their identities and prove that the work for the company they claim to represent.

If a salesperson becomes angry when you ask for identification or insists that identification isn’t necessary, you probably have a scam artist on your hands, not a legitimate salesperson.

  1. Get Several Written Quotes

A scam artist needs to make their sale as quickly as possible, so they’ll use whatever tactics they can to get you to purchase their equipment right away. They might give you a written quote if you insist, but because they need to leave quickly and with as much money as possible, they’ll probably give you one price and stick with it until you agree to the sale.

If you aren’t positive that your salesperson is a legitimate company representative, don’t make any purchases or sign any contracts. Instead, ask for a written quote. Then, take the time to compare the price the salesperson gives you with prices from similar companies. If the price was exorbitantly high, it probably didn’t come from a real security company employee.

  1. Ask Your Friends for Advice

Before you settle on a security company, talk to your friends, family members, and neighbors about their preferred home security system. Ask them about who installed the equipment, whether or not it was installed on time, and how effectively it works. Then, call the recommended company and ask any additional questions.

Friend referrals aren’t always helpful (for instance, you and your friends may have very different security needs), but they’re more reliable than salespeople who come to your door and try to commit you to a same-day sale.

  1. Be Wary of Anyone Who Insists You Need to Upgrade

If you display a security company’s sign on your property, you give yourself an edge over lazy burglars who only want to target easy-to-enter homes. However, canny con artists might see the sign and attempt to sell you “upgraded” security equipment from the same company.

Don’t trust anyone who claims to represent your current company unless the company already called. Chances are slim that your security company would send someone over to have you re-sign paperwork and pay a fee without talking to you about it first. And if your security system needed to be upgraded, your company would certainly explain why and give you different options before forcing you into a same-day purchase.

  1. Check the Company’s Licenses

If the salesperson came from a company you don’t recognize, ask to see the company’s license and check it with the Better Business Bureau or the state Attorney General’s office. If the company doesn’t have the correct licensing or if their license is out of date, don’t make any purchases.

See our blog post on how to tell if your ADT installer is real or fake to learn more. Do you have any comments or suggestions? Post them below!


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4 Important Summer Safety Tips for Pets

by Elli on January 28, 2017

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With the temperatures rising and summer fast approaching, you’re probably daydreaming of ways to stay cool. As you picture yourself lounging by the pool and eating popsicles, don’t forget about your four-legged friends. Pets need extra care and attention during the hot summer months. Follow these tips to protect your pets this summer:

1. Use Sunscreen

Pets can benefit from sunscreen just as much as humans can, especially pets with short hair or white or pink fur. Pay special attention to your pet’s nose and ears, since these areas burn easily. Human sunscreen is toxic to pets—instead of applying your own, ask your veterinarian to recommend a good pet sunscreen.

2. Limit Sun Exposure

If you feel too warm, your pet likely feels even warmer, especially your dog. Dogs release their body heat through the pads of their feet and through panting instead of through their skin, and bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, puppies, and elderly pets in particular tend to overheat quickly. During the hottest hours of the day (typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), limit your pet’s exposure to the heat. Plan play time for early morning or evening hours, and ensure your pet always has plenty of fresh water.

3. Avoid Toxins

After you spray weed killer or pesticides on your yard or garden, keep your pet indoors and off the grass for at least a few hours—or, better yet, switch over to safe, organic fertilizers. Some chemicals that keep your grass fresh harm your pet. Similarly, pay attention to any chemicals that pool in your driveway. For instance, if your car frequently overheats, your coolant (which is extremely poisonous to pets) might be leaking onto your driveway where your cat or dog can lap it up.

4. Watch for Pests

Mosquitoes, ticks, and other dangerous pests are out in full force during the summer months. Some ticks and mosquitoes transmit parasites and diseases that harm your pet and even transfer to human members of your family. Talk to your veterinarian about how to keep pests from harming your pet—safe, effective medications or vaccine prevent many common insect-transmitted diseases.

Follow these tips to ensure your furry friend stays safe this summer. Do you have other helpful tips for pet owners? Share your favorites below.

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Is Your Yard a Burglar’s Paradise?

January 23, 2017
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Your home is your sanctuary. As a place where you gather to relax with friends and family, it should be where you feel the safest. But did you know that […]

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When a Stranger Comes Knocking

January 9, 2017
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It can be unsettling when a stranger comes to your front door—especially if you’re home alone. That feeling isn’t unwarranted, as it’s common for intruders to knock on the front […]

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How to Tell if Your ADT Installer Is Real or Fake

December 9, 2016
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It’s an otherwise ordinary Wednesday afternoon, and a man claiming to be an ADT installer is at your door. Is he a genuine ADT representative or a fake? Learning how to tell […]

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5 Holiday Safety Tips

November 27, 2016
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6 Common Misconceptions About Home Burglaries

November 15, 2016
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When you hear the word “burglar,” you might picture a cat burglar in all black who sneaks into your house and spirits away your most expensive possessions. But how does […]

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Is Your Home a Target for Burglars? 4 Questions to Ask About Your Home’s Security

November 1, 2016
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Thieves choose the homes they burgle for more than just the goods inside. But what causes a thief to target one house and skip past another? Ask yourself the following […]

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6 Easy Entry Points for Burglars

September 11, 2016
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If a burglar is looking to break into your home, it might be easier for them to enter than you think. Some access points are obvious, but there are also […]

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