ConsumerReports explains common security missteps with advice from cops and former thieves. Here are some mistakes to avoid at home, with your electronics, and with your personal finances:
Protect your self from break-ins. “About half of all break-ins aren’t break-ins but walk-ins,” says Bob Portenier, consultant, lecturer, and former burglar.
Always turn your home alarm system on. In a security survey of 1,038 U.S. homeowners conducted in February, 43 percent of people survey who had an alarm said they at least occasionally don’t turn it on when they’re not at home.
Leaving your garage door open make it easier for burglars to enter your home. The interior door of a garage, leading into homes, usually isn’t very strong, Also, the garage is the best place for burglars to break into your home, since neighbors can’t see them.
Obscuring your house with tall hedges and fences also prevents neighbors from seeing what’s going on, giving burglars a cover to work.
Leaving valuables in sight also victimizes your home. “When we targeted a house, we would approach the door and look in — the quality of furniture, whatever there was — to give us an idea of how these people spend their money,” says Portenier. “So with mirror-tinted windows, it eliminates that.”
When on vacation, restrain from tweeting or facebooking that you are away from home. Only write about vacations once you’ve returned. Make the house look occupied by setting out cheap kids’ toys on the lawn.
Leaving keys outside the home or inside cars makes it easier for spur-of-the-moment break-ins.
With your electronics.
Don’t be lazy with passwords. Mix up letter and numbers to make for tougher encryption.
Be cautious of phony links. Cyber thieves may record your keystrokes as you enter passwords, giving them access to your accounts.
Always run the latest version of your browser, as updates include better protection.
For your personal finances
Abstain from banking from a public computer, since key-logging malware exists that can capture account numbers, passwords, and other vital data.
Be aware of odd ATM machines. Even ATMs at banks under surveillance aren’t risk free. Always use your free hand to shield your pin number entry from hidden cameras or lurking thieves.
Do weekly checkups on your debit and credit card transactions. The best way is by setting up a email or text alert system for when transactions over a certain amount are made.
Don’t abandon your receipts at the ATM lobby or gas pump. Hold on to them until your transactions have cleared, then shred. Also shred account statements and other financial documents before disposing of them.