Archive December 2014

Prevent Identity Theft

Tis the season for holiday shopping, but it’s also the season for holiday thievery. The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in San Diego, Calif., estimates that 15 million people are victims of identity theft every year. The not-for-profit group reports
that it gets more calls about lost and stolen wallets and purses during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. To make sure identity theft does not
spoil your holidays, the ITRC has several tips for safeguarding your personal data.

* Never share your social security or credit card numbers in a public environment. Instead of verbally sharing requested sensitive information, write it down for the clerk, then take the slip of paper home with you. Also: when talking on your cell phone in public, don’t give out any personal information that could be overheard.

* Keep store receipts in your wallet, not inside the bag with your purchase.

* Carry only what you need when shopping, and keep purses, backpacks 
and bags zipped or fastened shut to deter pickpockets.

* Use debit cards judiciously or leave them at home — they are a direct 
link to your bank account. By using credit cards instead, you can review the billing statement afterward and dispute any suspected fraudulent activity.

* When shopping online, print out the Web page describing the item(s) you ordered, as well as any email messages and contact information for the online seller.

* Do not provide your social security number, birth date or mother’s maiden name in an email or within a website.

* Make sure the latest anti-virus software is installed on your computer before shopping online.

CRS Your Home Newsletter December, 2013

The Heat is On

As the weather gets cooler, it’s a good time to check your HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system to make sure it’s operating properly. While it’s wise to have your HVAC inspected by a heating professional every fall and spring, you can increase the efficiency of your system by following these simple maintenance tips from American Home Shield.

Now: Use a high-efficiency pleated filter with an electrostatic charge that works like a magnet to grab the tiniest particles. Replace the filter every 90 days and check it monthly. If it looks dark and clogged, change it, and if you have pets, you may need to change it more often.

Keep the air-conditioning unit free of leaves, pollen, grass or branches that can interfere with its future efficiency. Make sure there is at least two feet of space cleared around outdoor units.

Monthly or Seasonally: Inspect the insulation and refrigerant lines monthly. Before winter sets in, replace the humidifier filter and turn on the water.

Annually: Replace the battery in the carbon monoxide detector. Walk around the exterior of the house and check that outdoor AC units and heat pumps are on firm and level ground. Pour one cup of bleach mixed with water down the AC condensate drain to prevent a buildup of mold and algae, which can clog the drain.

Always: Keep at least 20 percent of a home’s registers open to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the HVAC system.

Following these simple tips can prolong the life of your HVAC system and help you be prepared for whatever the winter season may bring.

CRS Your Home Newsletter November/December, 2014