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Helpful Tips

Cyber Security: Strong Passwords

Best practices for strong passwords:

Cybersecurity is critical, both in your personal and professional life, and passwords are the first line of defense against imposters gaining access to your accounts. The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found over 70% of employees reuse passwords at work. The report also states 81% of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen and/or weak passwords.

Follow the tips below to make sure that you are setting strong passwords to protect your accounts and information online.

Password Do’s:

  • Use a password manager: Password managers are online services that safely store and manage your passwords. Your passwords will be encrypted, so it is a secure way to keep them all in one easy to find place.
  • Change your password regularly: This will make it less likely that your accounts will be compromised.
  • Make your passwords long: Advanced hackers can use computer programs that run through every combination of numbers and letters. The longer and more complex your password is, the harder it is to crack!
  • Mix up symbols and numbers with letters: An example of this technique is using the number 1 in place of a lowercase letter l.
  • Use nonsense sequences of letters and numbers: This will make it more difficult for someone to guess your logins and harder for advanced technology to crack your passwords.

Password Don’ts:

  • Don’t use the same password for everything: If you do, and an imposter gets your password for one account they can use it for all the other services and platforms you have.
  • Don’t keep passwords in areas people can access: Storing logins in your desk or easy to access places in your computer puts you at risk. Instead use a password manager that encrypts your passwords for you.
  • Don’t use common words or phrases: If the letter sequences you use are found in the dictionary, an intruder will be able to crack your passwords easier.
  • Don’t use personal information: Logins that include birthdays, names of loved ones, or streets you grew up on will make it easy for someone to hack your accounts.

Don’t give your password to anyone: Not even coworkers or good friends.


Helpful Tips

Here comes autumn

Here Comes Autumn:

Time to start prepping your property for winter

The first official day of Fall, September 23, is upon us. As the weather becomes crisper, it is time to start preparing your home for the winter months. Taking time to winterize your home can increase the longevity of your appliances, keep your house running efficiently, and can even save you money.

Insulation:

  • Check your window and door frames for drafts, loose frames, or cracked panes. Caulk and use weather stripping as needed. Click here for a checklist from the Department of Energy to make sure your home is sealed top to bottom.
  • Install storm panes as needed.
  • Check the insulation and wrap pipes in unheated locations.

Circulation:

  • Reverse your ceiling fans so they turn clockwise. This will draw rising air down.
  • Change your furnace filters to ensure efficiency.
  • Make sure your furniture is not directly in front of vents so the warm air can circulate.

Home Interior:

  • Clean and prep your furnace, wood stove, fireplace and back up generator.
  • Prepare an “emergency” kit in case of power outages from storms with some key items:  food, water, battery operated radio, flashlights and batteries.
  • Clean clothes dryer vent pipe.
  • Clean showerheads, bathroom drains and vents.
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Home Exterior:

  • Clean, repair and store your grill, patio furniture and pool accessories.
  • Prepare lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed whackers and other yard maintenance equipment for storage; don’t forget to drain fuel from all gas-operated equipment.
  • Close outdoor water valves and drain garden hoses.
  • Bring your plants inside before the temperature goes below 45 degrees.
  • Clean out your gutters.

Spend some time winterizing your home this Autumn so you can stay toasty warm during the winter months.

House with blue background and snow

 


Helpful Tips

keyboard and coffee cup

Here is a way to protect yourself from predatory lending,
potential identity theft and telemarketers

Important Notice to All Borrowers:

Did you know that when a mortgage inquiry is logged on your credit report, your personal information is then automatically added to lists that are being sold by Experian, Trans Union and Equifax to certain kinds of mortgage lenders?

Predatory lending is a serious issue, especially in times of economic downturn, when unscrupulous mortgage lending companies become more aggressive in luring in home-buyers with bait-and-switch tactics. Additionally, the more companies that have your personal credit data, the greater the risk that you will become the victim of identity theft.

Consumer Credit Opt-Out

The good news is there are preventative measures you can take to protect yourself from predatory lending, potential risk for identity theft and even hassling telemarketers:


You will need to provide enough personal identification for this service to verify it is correctly removing your personal record from the marketing lists. In addition to being removed from these new lists, you may also choose to be removed from the lists that are currently sold to credit card companies to generate pre-approved card solicitations. You can opt out for a period of five years or permanently.


Helpful Tips

Paint cans in different colors

Update Your Home's "Curb Appeal" on a Budget

Simple Inexpensive ways to increase the value of your home:

Whether you are trying to get your home ready to sell, or just looking to increase your investment, there are many inexpensive ways to add value to your home in a weekend.

Add curb appeal:

  • Paint your front door with a pop of color to make your home stand out and look welcoming. Replace your door knob if it is shaky or dated. The front door can set the tone for potential buyers.
  • Make sure your yard is neat and free of weeds and add a few inexpensive plants that are native to your area.
  • Pressure wash your home exterior, deck, sidewalks, and driveway, and wash the outside of your windows to immediately brighten the look of your home.

Updating the interior:

  • Add a fresh coat of paint in a neutral color to your walls. It will instantly make your home appear brighter and newer.
  • Declutter your home. This can make your space appear larger and open, giving potential buyers the perception that there is enough storage in the home for their belongings.
  • To spruce up your bathroom and kitchen without breaking the bank, start with replacing dated hardware. Change out old knobs on your drawers and cabinets, update faucets and shower heads, and replace old lighting.

 

You don’t need to spend $50,000 on a kitchen renovation to show your investment some love. There are plenty of smaller, less involved projects that will make your home look more updated and enticing to potential buyers.


Helpful Tips

Hurricane as seen from a sattelite

Are You Prepared for When a Storm Hits?

Here we are in hurricane season, which will quickly be followed by winter! Make sure you and your home are prepared by doing the following when alerted for oncoming storms:

  • Bring in any outside furniture or toys that could be picked up by the wind
  • Make sure all your doors and windows are securely closed
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer down to the lowest temperature so your food will last longer if the power goes out
  • Turn off your propane tanks and unplug any small appliances
  • Talk about an evacuation plan with your family
  • Fill your car’s gas tank
  • Have a collection of disaster supplies handy 

What disaster supplies should you have ready?

  • Water and food that is non-perishable to last you at least three days
  • Portable battery charging pack for your mobile devices
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Battery operated radio (with extra batteries)
  • Local maps
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Weather can be unpredictable, but a storm doesn’t have to take you by surprise. Make sure you have what you need in case a storm hits so you and your family can weather it out together!


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