The holidays are here! We’ve got a little quiz for you. Finish this sentence:
‘Tis the season to…
- Get robbed
- Have a house fire
- Have your identity stolen
- Get scammed
- Be jolly
If you answered 5, you’re right! This is the season of family, friends, and joy.
Unfortunately, if you said 1,2 3, or 4, you’re also right. For various reasons, the holidays are prime time for crime and fire.
Since safety and protection are our passion at Bulletproof Zone, we want to help you avoid choices 1 to 4 above, so we’ve put together some practical tips for keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your home safe in these next few months.
1. Don’t give details of your upcoming holiday trip on social media.
Would you have stood in the middle of a crowd in 2003, yelled out your name, and added, “My house will be totally empty from [trip start date] to [trip end date!]?”
Didn’t think so. But that’s not too far from what’s happening if you make a similar announcement on social media.
Even if you think you’ve got your privacy settings tweaked just right, friends of friends (i.e. total strangers) may still be able to see your post.
This doesn’t just go for social media. Also be mindful of giving away empty-house dates on your voicemail, email signature, or answering machine.
Sure, you can post about your festivities, but we suggest saving it for when you’ve already come back home: “New York was great!” as opposed to “New York’s going to be great!”
2. Make it look like someone’s home while you’re gone.
Do what you can to deter robbers from entering your property while you’re traveling.
Setting lights with a timer is one excellent way to make it look like you’re home.
Program the downstairs lights to come on at dusk. Time the upstairs lights to come on a minute later, furthering the illusion that you’re home.
Another good tip is to NOT leave downstairs rooms too neat when you leave.
If an intruder looks through the blinds, let them see signs of occupancy--an open newspaper on the coffee table, a pair of reading glasses on the armchair.
Even if an immaculate home is your normal state of affairs, that’s not how burglars see it: a little clutter means someone’s there.
3. Don’t overload electrical sockets, and never leave fire unattended.
Okay, that’s two tips, but they go hand in hand.
Nearly 50% of Christmas tree fires originate with electrical distribution or lighting equipment, with almost a fifth of those due to decorative lights.
Forty-five percent of home decoration fires are started by candles each December. (The rest of the year, 35% of decor fires are due to candles).
So always keep an eye on flames and lights, and before you leave the home, do a walk-through of each room to make sure nobody left a candle burning.
4. Don’t reuse passwords online, and don’t make them guessable.
Another two-for-one tip. We’ve heard it before, but it never hurts to hear good advice again.
Using the same password for different site accounts is bad because it puts you at risk of credential stuffing, which is not a side dish you want on your holiday menu.
Credential stuffing is when hackers take credentials gleaned from a data breach and try using them to log in at other unrelated sites and services. The jerks have software to help them do this, so they have a pretty good chance of getting matches.
It’s also not a good idea to have passwords that are easily guessed.
Randomness, complexity, and length are three qualities of a strong password.
No, it’s not easy to juggle all those passwords and come up with new strong ones, so that’s why it may be a good idea to sign up for a free password manager like LastPass for Dashlane this year.
5. Beware of phishing scams.
Phishing is a kind of online scam that relies on victims clicking a link in a fake email and providing personal information and other credentials. Some tips to avoid getting phished:
- Be leery of emails providing a link to online bargains that seem too good to be true. Holiday bargain hunters have a special place in the hearts of phishing scammers.
- Watch out for emails that look like they come from established shipping companies like FedEx. Scammers know that a lot of folks are tracking deliveries at this time of year.
- Hover your mouse over the provided link in an email. If the preview box shows a long string of gibberish, don’t click it.
- To visit an online marketplace website, just go there straight from its usual URL. For example, if you get a suspicious-looking email from your favorite online shoe vendor, go there by typing in the .com URL instead of clicking the link.
- Only shop on encrypted websites. Encrypted sites’ URLs start with https instead of http, and depending on your browser, they might also have an icon of a padlock in the window.
6. Protect yourself in crowds.
When out and about in crowded places, keep your head on a swivel, and don’t look down at your phone for extended lengths of time.
Keep your wallet in a buttoned pocket if possible. Pickpockets target back pants pockets and both inner and outer pockets on suit/coat jackets.
For women, they tend to go for the purse, so don’t keep your wallet there if you can avoid it.
For everyone, avoid patting your pocket to check if your wallet is there; this shows pickpockets exactly where it is.
7. Invest in a piece of body armor
Finally, you might wish to invest in a piece of body armor this season to protect against gun violence.
Bulletproof vests aren’t heavy or complicated to use at all. For the same reason, bulletproof backpacks are increasing in popularity because they’re easy to set up and use. Bulletproof clothing is also an option.
The BulletSafe NIJ Certified Level IIIA Bulletproof Vest VP3 (shown below) would make a great gift for anyone who wants wraparound, concealable, professional-caliber protection against handguns up to .44 Magnum right out of the box.
In fact, the entire BulletSafe collection features lightweight, easy-to-use vests that are perfect for concerned citizens, people in risky occupations, or anyone prepping for SHTF.
The holidays are a time for giving and togetherness. Set yourself up for joy by taking precautions when you leave your home and visit online vendors.
We don’t mean you should live in fear, but instead remember that a little preemptive vigilance can prevent a lot of headaches later.
Did you enjoy these tips? Do you have any suggestions of your own? Leave us a comment below! Safe and Happy Holidays from Bulletproof Zone!