Archive November 2015

Mall Security – Online Version

According to a 2014 Deloitte survey, 55 percent of American consumers say they are concerned about protecting their personal data when shopping online, and 42 percent say they have similar concerns when shopping in stores. With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, consumers need to be more vigilant about protecting their personal data. PC Magazine offers the following tips to shop safely online. ̈

If possible, avoid using a debit card for purchases. Most debit cards don’t have the same level of fraud protection that credit cards have. If a debit card is all you have, protect your PIN by shielding the keypad with your hand or body.

Visit only trusted sites, which are more likely to be secure. Make sure an “https” appears in the site’s URL and a lock icon is visibly displayed. Log out of all shopping accounts after completing a transaction.

Avoid using a public Wi-Fi for your online shopping and financial transactions. Also use a password manager to create strong, unique passwords for each shopping site. Ä

Provide as little information to merchants as possible. Online retailers do not need to know your social security number or birth-date to do business.

Purchase gift cards directly from the retailer, not through a third-party source. Some scammers will auction off gift cards on sites like eBay with little or no funds on them.

Review online bank statements frequently to confirm charges; don’t wait for your monthly statement to arrive in the mail. If you notice any questionable charges, contact your financial institution immediately.

Keep these suggestions in mind, and you can enjoy a secure holiday shopping experience.

CRS Your Home Newsletter, November/December 2015

Guest List

The holidays bring food, gifts, good times — and guests. Hosting houseguests can be joyful and stressful, but you can minimize the hassle with thoughtful planning and preparation. Consider these tips from Real Simple and Woman’s Day.

Get your house in order. Cut out any unnecessary drama by discussing — and approving — houseguests (who, how many and for how long) with your spouse and the rest of your household well before anyone arrives on your doorstep. Next, ensure you have adequate space for the number of guests you’ll have. Sleeping arrangements will be different depending on your guests’ situations. For example, young children may need to sleep in the same room as their parents, so you might want to provide a futon or air mattress.

Stock your kitchen. Avoid the stress of creating daytime meals on the fly by stashing a few easily defrosted dishes that guests can help themselves to throughout the day, such as lasagna or baked mac ’n’ cheese. And be sure to set a specific dinner- time so everyone can plan accordingly. For breakfast, opt for small baskets of muffins or bagels with jellies and butter, and keep a pot of hot coffee with ample supplies of cream and sugar so that guests can wake up and feed themselves at their own pace.

Don’t forget about it. Help your guests settle in by stocking up on the often-forgotten necessities, such as toothbrushes, travel-sized toothpaste and shower products, disposable razors and makeup-remover wipes. Equip each bed- room with extra linens, and add a scented candle or two to make rooms feel like a posh hotel.

CRS Your Home Newsletter, November, 2012

Season Pass

The weather may not be as chilly in California or Florida as it is in New York or Wisconsin, but getting your home ready for a new season is still a good idea. Put these “winterizing” tips from MSN Real Estate on your to-do list.

Clean your gutters.  Autumn leaves are pretty, but once they fall, they can reveal their ugly side — by contributing to clogged gutters. Neglecting your gutters can eventually cause water to seep into your home. Rid gutters of leaves and other debris by hand (be sure to wear thick gloves) or with a scraper and rinse with a powerful hose to ensure proper drainage.

Plug leaks.  Avoid leaks from rain or snowstorms with a simple maneuver. On a windy day, walk around the inside of your home with a lit incense stick or candle and hold it near commonly drafty areas—windows, door frames, electrical outlets — and apply caulk or other sealants to gaps. For more protection against the elements, install storm windows or buy a window insulator kit (about $5 per window) for a cheaper fix.

Bundle up.  Insulation, no matter where you live, is a necessity. Experts say that regardless of where you call home, attics should contain a minimum of 12 inches of insulation. Ensure that your insulation is adequate to help you avoid wasted money in heating or energy bills.

CRS Your Home Newsletter, November, 2012