2010 Saw Dramatic Rise In Home Invasions

Maybe it’s the economy or maybe people are just getting nuttier, but my news alerts have been pouring in describing horrific home-invasions with many resulting in growing levels of violence.

In some places, there is a correlation between home invasions and organized crime, drugs, prostitution and gambling.

In Calgary, our neighbor to the north, the Calgary Herald reports “The violent home confrontations typically see victims assaulted, threatened and bound with duct tape, plastic zip ties or rope while thieves ransack their homes for cash and valuables.”

It seems that home invasion has become a crime that knows no boundaries.

The pseudo good news is in 2/3rd of the home invasion cases the parties involved (invaded and invaders) were heavily into lowlife activities. So if you are not dealing drugs or involved in gang activity then you’re less susceptible.

However in almost 1/3rd of the cases the victims were people who kept large sums of money in their homes. So if you are a person who stuffs your mattress with cash you are more vulnerable.

If you fit into the category of mattress stuffer:

#1 Put your money in the bank! It makes no sense to have wads of cash around. Even if it’s in a safe, a home invader will force you to open it.

#2 If you insist on having wads of cash around then tell no-one! Home invaders are often deprived people in a position of trust who turn on their victim.

#3 Take some of that money and invest it into a home security system. For about a dollar a day your home can be fully monitored and alarmed.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams.

10 Security Tips For Holiday Shopping

1. During the holidays, criminals engage in “black-hat SEO,” wherein they create fake websites and then use the same techniques as legitimate online businesses regarding search engine optimization, marketing, and online advertising via Google AdWords. They use keywords to boost rankings on Internet searches, causing their spoofed websites to appear alongside legitimate websites. These same processes are also used to infect unsuspecting users with malware.

2. Many victims who wind up on malicious websites when holiday shopping have found their way to these sites via phishing emails, which offer high-end products for low prices. It’s easy enough to avoid this. Common sense says that whenever you receive an unsolicited email offer, you ought to automatically be suspicious. The same applies to any offers received through tweets, or messages sent within social media. Scammers are committing social media identity theft everyday. If you aren’t familiar with the online retailer behind an offer, don’t even bother clicking a link, especially if the offer sounds too good to be true.

3. If a familiar and trusted website sends you an email offer and you decide to click, make sure you’ve been taken to the correct URL for the retailer. Beware of cybersquatting and typosquatting, in which the address only resembles the legitimate domain.

4. When placing an order online, always look for “https://” in the address bar, signifying that a page is secure. Scammers generally don’t take the time to create secure websites. Note that an image of a closed padlock also indicates that a website is secure.

5. Beware of emails from eBay scammers. I’ve been getting ten a day. The fact is, it’s difficult to tell a real eBay offer from a fake one. If you are seeking deals on eBay, go directly to the site itself, and don’t bother responding to emails. If a deal in an email is legitimate, you can find it by searching eBay.

6. Whenever you decide to make an eBay purchase, look at the seller’s history. eBay is based on the honor system. If a seller is established and has a record of positive feedback, they should be trustworthy.

7. Don’t worry about credit card fraud. But do pay close attention to your statements. Check them online at least once every two weeks, and refute unauthorized charges within two billing cycles, otherwise you will pay for an identity thief’s shopping list.

8. Don’t use a debit card online. If your debit card is compromised, that money comes out of your bank account directly and immediately. Credit cards offer more protection and less liability.

9. Avoid paying by check online. It’s fine to use checks in person, but when using an unfamiliar virtual website, it is not. Once money has been taken from your account and the goods, you’ve ordered fail to arrive, getting it back proves difficult if not impossible. Use a UniBall gel pen to prevent check washing.

10. Do business with those you know, like, and trust. I, for one, am guilty of buying from retailers who offer the best deals. But I only buy low-ticket items from unfamiliar sellers, generally spending less than $50. It’s best to buy high-ticket items exclusively from retailers that also have brick and mortar locations.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, and he is running the Boston Marathon in April 2012 to support Miles for Miracles for Children’s Hospital Boston.

Traveling for the Holidays? Get The “My TSA” iPhone App

Each holiday season, the TSA prepares its workforce of 50,000 transportation security officers to provide a smooth experience for holiday travelers. Since this is the busiest travel time of the year, the TSA is reminding passengers of the security procedures in place, so you know what to expect before leaving home.

Children: The TSA has implemented new procedures for passengers age 12 and under. Pat-downs will be reduced, although not eliminated, to resolve parental alarm without sacrificing effective security. Children are also permitted to leave their shoes on at security checkpoints.

Liquids: Families or individuals traveling with medically necessary liquids can use Family Lanes for a more pleasant travel experience. There are Family Lanes at every security checkpoint, allowing families and travelers with special needs to go through security at their own pace. Individuals carrying medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in excess of three ounces will also be directed to these lanes.

Food: Everyone either wants to bring a favorite food to their holiday dinners, or leftovers or other items they’d like to bring back home with them. Travelers should know that while pies are permitted through security checkpoints, the following list of liquids must be checked, shipped, or left at home:

  • Cranberry sauce
  • Creamy dips and spreads (cheese, peanut butter, etc.)
  • Gift baskets containing liquid food items
  • Gravy
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Maple syrup
  • Oils and vinegars
  • Salad dressing
  • Salsa
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Wine, liquor, and beer

The Transportation Security Administration’s “My TSA” iPhone app, which you can download for free through iTunes, provides real-time operating status updates for U.S. airports from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing you to check approximate wait times at security checkpoints, flight delays, and weather conditions. You can also share your wait times with others, and provide immediate feedback to the TSA concerning your checkpoint experience. It includes a tool to quickly confirm whether an item is allowed in carry-on or checked baggage, plus information about ID requirements, restrictions on liquids, and tips for packing and dressing to speed up the process of going through security checkpoints.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, and he is running the Boston Marathon in April 2012 to support Miles for Miracles for Children’s Hospital Boston.