BBB & Police: How to Protect Your Info and Home from Thieves
ST. CLOUD -- With the frigid air making Minnesota feel like the North Pole many of us are heading to the airport to escape the cold. But as you plan to fly off to your sunny destination, you should be thinking about how to keep your home safe while you're gone.
The Better Business Bureau and St. Cloud Police have a few tips for you on how to make sure your information and your home don't become a target for thieves.
St. Cloud Assistant Police Chief Jeff Oxton says homeowners have many lost cost options to protect their home when they plan to be gone.
"The other thing that's probably the cheapest investment and does some of the best preventative work is having good lighting and outdoor lighting. Either by keeping outdoor exterior lights on or having timers or motion sensors where if someone walks into the yard the motion light kicks on and will often deter people from wanting to go there."
Oxton says it's important that your home looks like it's being lived in, some common scenery thieves look for are unplowed driveways.
"I think we've all driven by a house, maybe it was a neighbor's, and you can tell that they've been away from it from some time because the snow is piled up in their driveway. Having neighbors help or hiring somebody to remove snow is a really important part or in the summertime cutting grass, that all makes a house appear lived in."
Alarms and cameras are also an option but tend to be more costly. Oxton says to be sure to do your research before working with a security company. You can check out various companies' ratings on the BBB's website.
Also, simply locking your doors can be a huge deterrent. Oxton says to not forget to lock your garage, home and car doors.
In terms of keeping your information safe either when you're on vacation or any time of the year, social media can be an easy way thieves get your personal information. Bess Ellenson is the Communications Director with the BBB. She says hackers are trying to dig up any information they can on you.
"They are looking for any kind of personal information that will give them insight into who you are and what your interests are. So they are looking for things like names of your pets, family members, your father's middle name, mother's maiden name, pictures of your children even, birthdays, what your favorite shows are, what your favorite books are. Anything to give them any insight as to what your passwords might be or security questions to get into an account."
Oversharing on social media is how you can make yourself a target. Ellenson says you should always have your privacy settings as secure as possible.
"You want to have your social media accounts locked down as much as you can. Go in and make sure every privacy setting is set as high as possible. You want to do that every so often just go in and double check if anything has changed with the privacy standards."
When it comes to posting when you're on vacation, Oxton and Ellenson recommend waiting to post until you return home this way it's not publically known that you are not in town.
If you have more questions about how to keep your information or home safe during this time of year follow the links below.