Protecting Your Vehicle from Summer Theft

cars

Protecting Your Vehicle from Summer Theft: Security Experts Offer “Rules of the Road”

Choosing a road trip over air travel this summer may seem like a smart way to save money on the high cost of airfare. However, families who take this route may be putting themselves in a position for an even costlier risk: having their car and its parts stolen or irreparably damaged.  A June 2013 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) showed an upward trend in motor vehicle theft for the first time in eight years. (https://www.nicb.org/newsroom/nicb_campaigns/hot_spots)
According to the NICB, July and August are the two most common months for motor vehicle theft. And with nearly two-thirds of Americans planning a road trip this summer according to AAA, security experts caution road travelers to take extra precautions to avoid becoming a target for thieves – thieves who are capitalizing on increased gas prices and the high street value of car parts.

“Wherever your car is parked – whether at a hotel, in a gas station parking lot, or even in your own home – you need to take precautions, especially during warmer weather,” advises Mark McClure, owner of the Signal 88 Security franchise serving Atlanta. “Leaving your windows cracked, even slightly, can be an invitation for theft.”

Signal 88 Security, Inc., a private security company with more than 100 franchise offices across  more than 30 states, offers three key suggestions that can help car owners avoid being victimized during the summer months.

Step One: Identify Possible Threats “There are a variety of items that are attractive to thieves: electronics, gas, metal and even the car itself,” says McClure. “Take a look at your car and note if any of the above are easily accessible.”  If you drive a high-profile vehicle, you’re especially at risk of catalytic convertor theft. In many cases, the platinum inside the part can be sold for scrap. Company fleet vehicles and other cars that are parked for extended time periods are also prime targets.

Step Two: Secure Your Vehicle Always roll up your windows and lock your doors, and activate your security alarm if you have one. If you drive an older model car, consider adding a locking gas cap to prevent siphoning. Watch for gas dripping from the bottom of your vehicle; if a hole has been drilled in the tank, there is a risk of fire should you start the car.
Whether at home or away on vacation, park in a well-lit area, and consider installing motion-sensitive lights around your residence.

Step Three: Keep a Watchful Eye If you will be out of town and your car will be sitting out, ask your neighbors to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. If you live in an apartment complex, notify the management. Contact law enforcement if you see suspicious activity around your residence. “I remind our officers that any pedestrian traffic after dark should be treated with in-depth observation. People walking in groups or less populated parts of a property can be a cause for concern,” says McClure.

While nothing is foolproof, providing barriers to entry such as these makes it more difficult for thieves to target your vehicle, increasing the chance that they will give up and move on to an easier target.

“Vehicle-related crimes threaten our sense of personal security, but taking a few simple precautions can minimize the impact. Creating awareness is key,” says McClure.
For additional information about Signal 88 Security, visit www.signal88security.com.

Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

home security
With an estimated 136 million Americans going on at least one vacation this summer, safety and security precautions are a must. Proactive measures can help consumers keep their home safe from fire, carbon monoxide, and the threat of burglary while they are away.

Better Business Bureau and home security pioneer ADT are offering the following safety tips for homeowners during the summer season:

  • Be careful about the vacation details you share via social media. Burglars can use posts on Twitter or Facebook to determine when you’ll be away. More than one third (35%) of Americans polled in ADT’s Safety Data Index survey said they believed their home is too ordinary and would not interest a burglar. However, a vacant home could be enough to attract unwanted attention, so be careful about broadcasting your travel plans.
  • Lock your doors even when you’re gone for a brief amount of time. Two thirds (67%) of Americans surveyed for the Safety Data Index agree they do more to protect their homes when they are going away for a night than when they are just leaving for a few hours. But, according to the FBI, more than half (53%) of home burglaries happen during the day, so homeowners should secure doors and windows every time they leave their home.
  • Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Summer marks the beginning of hurricane season, and if a generator needs to be used in a power outage, a quick test of your monitored life safety devices can help keep your family safe from potentially dangerous fumes.
  • Keep hedges and bushes around your home trimmed, so burglars don’t have places to hide.

If you want to relax on vacation, make sure your vacation planning includes securing your home while you are gone. If you choose to contract with a security company, check out their BBB Business Review first at bbb.org.

Learn more about ADT’s Safety Data Index, a survey examining the safety and lifestyle habits of Americans. For more consumer information you can trust, visit bbb.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

NOTE: ADT is a Better Business Bureau National Partner and all locations are BBB Accredited Businesses.

Have a Blast on July 4th — Safely!

fireworks

It’s that time of year when our nation celebrates Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

For many, that means picnics, baseball, pool parties and almost always, some type of fireworks. Whether you will be attending a fireworks show, or having a not so private fireworks display at your home, safety should be your number one concern.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB), with information obtained from the National Council on Fireworks Safety http://www.fireworksafety.com/, provides the following tips to ensure your July 4th remains fun and free of any harm or hospital visits:

Follow these safety tips when using fireworks:

  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Use fireworks outdoors and only as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.  Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
  • Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.

And note these special safety tips, if using sparklers:

  • Always remain standing while using sparklers.
  • Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
  • Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
  • Never throw sparklers.
  • Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.
  • Teach children not to wave sparklers, or run, while holding sparklers.
  • Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Summer Smarts: Keep Your Home Safe While You’re Away

With an estimated 136 million Americans going on at least one vacation this summer, safety and security precautions are a must. Proactive measures can help consumers keep their home safe from fire, carbon monoxide, and the threat of burglary while they are away.

Better Business Bureau and home security pioneer, ADT are offering the following safety tips for homeowners during the summer season:

  • Be careful about the vacation details you share via social media. Burglars can use posts on Twitter or Facebook to determine when you’ll be away. More than one third (35%) of Americans polled in ADT’s Safety Data Index survey said they believed their home is too ordinary and would not interest a burglar. However, a vacant home could be enough to attract unwanted attention, so be careful about broadcasting your travel plans.
  • Lock your doors even when you’re gone for a brief amount of time. Two thirds (67%) of Americans surveyed for the Safety Data Index agree they do more to protect their homes when they are going away for a night than when they are just leaving for a few hours. But, according to the FBI, more than half (53%) of home burglaries happen during the day, so homeowners should secure doors and windows every time they leave their home.
  • Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Summer marks the beginning of hurricane season, and if a generator needs to be used in a power outage, a quick test of your monitored life safety devices can help keep your family safe from potentially dangerous fumes.
  • Keep hedges and bushes around your home trimmed, so burglars don’t have places to hide.

If you want to relax on vacation, make sure your vacation planning includes securing your home while you are gone. If you choose to contract with a security company, check out their BBB Business Review first at bbb.org.

Learn more about ADT’s Safety Data Index, a survey examining the safety and lifestyle habits of Americans. For more consumer information you can trust, visit bbb.org, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

NOTE: ADT is a Better Business Bureau National Partner and all locations are BBB Accredited Businesses.

Travelers Make Great Targets for Identity Thieves

traveler

As summer nears, many people start dreaming about and planning vacation getaways. But while you’re enjoying the beach, identity thieves are devising new ways to steal your personal information. Consumers often let their guards down on vacation, putting them at greater risk of identity theft.

In an effort to curb the growing problem of identity theft, Equifax shares the top 10 ways consumers can help protect themselves while traveling:

1. Don’t announce your travel plans on social media. This invites identity thieves to target your house while you’re away.

2.  Place a hold on your mail. When criminals see an overflowing mailbox, they see an easy way to steal personal information.

3.  Go through your wallet and leave at home your library card and other cards with your name on them. Carry only necessities in your wallet when traveling.  Tourist areas are hotspots for pickpockets.

4.  Set up a travel alert on your credit card accounts, and freeze your credit with the three credit bureaus.

5.  Leave your laptop computer at home if you can. If you must travel with a laptop, update your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Do not access bank accounts from your laptop while in a hotel room or at a coffee shop or other public location.

6.  While staying at a hotel, lock important documents such as your passport in a safe.

7.  Use only ATMs located in banks.

8.  Protect your smartphone. Create a password for access, and use an application with a GPS locator to find your phone if it is lost or stolen.

9.  Don’t put your full name and address on luggage tags. Include just your last name and phone number.

10.  Tear up and discard used boarding passes. Many travelers leave boarding passes behind in airplanes or hotels. They often contain full names and other personal information.

“Everyone loves a relaxing vacation, but this is not the time to let your guard down about identity theft,” said Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions unit at Equifax. “By developing good identity protection habits at home and on the road, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim.”

Visit www.IdentityProtection.com powered by Equifax for more information and resources on identity theft and how to help protect yourself and your family.

About Equifax:  Equifax Personal Solutions empowers consumers with the confidence and control to be their financial best. Find out more about Equifax’s innovative suite of credit monitoring and identity protection products at www.equifax.com.

The Truth Behind Weight Loss Ads

weight loss

Summer is just around the corner, and so are the endless advertisements for weight loss.  Common sense will tell you that cutting down on your caloric intake and exercising are your best bets for shedding those extra pounds.  But just in case, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides some helpful information and tips on what to be aware of when looking for ways to lose weight.

Claims to watch out for include:

Lose weight without diet or exercise!

Getting to a healthy weight takes work. Take a pass on any product that promises miraculous results without the effort. The only thing you’ll lose is money.

Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!

Beware of any product that claims that you can eat all the high-calorie food you want and still lose weight. Losing weight requires sensible food choices. Filling up on healthy vegetables and fruits can make it easier to say no to fattening sweets and snacks.

Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!

Even if you’re successful in taking weight off, permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes. Don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all results without ongoing maintenance.

Just take a pill!

Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree that there’s simply no magic way to lose weight without diet or exercise. Even pills approved by FDA to block the absorption of fat or help you eat less and feel full are to be taken with a low-calorie, low-fat diet and regular exercise.

Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!

Losing weight at the rate of a pound or two a week is the most effective way to take it off and keep it off. At best, products promising lightning-fast weight loss are a scam. At worst, they can ruin your health.

Everybody will lose weight!

Your habits and health concerns are unique. There is no one-size-fits-all product guaranteed to work for everyone. Team up with your health care provider to design a nutrition and exercise program suited to your lifestyle and metabolism.

Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!

You’ve seen the ads for diet patches or creams that claim to melt away the pounds. Don’t believe them. There’s nothing you can wear or apply to your skin that will cause you to lose weight.

Acai Berry Supplements in the “News”

More and more, scam artists are exploiting people’s trust in well-known news organizations by setting up fake news sites with the logos of legitimate news organizations to peddle their wares. In particular, sites claiming to be objective news sources may describe a so-called “investigation” of the effectiveness of acai berry dietary supplements for weight loss. These sites are a marketing ploy created to sell acai berry supplements.

Tainted Weight Loss Products

In the last few years, FDA has discovered hundreds of dietary supplements containing drugs or other chemicals, often in products for weight loss and bodybuilding. These extras generally aren’t listed on the label — and might even be sold with false and misleading claims like “100% natural” and “safe.” They could cause serious side effects or interact in dangerous ways with medicines or other supplements you’re taking.

The Skinny on Electronic Muscle Stimulators

You might have seen ads for electronic muscle stimulators claiming they will tone, firm, and strengthen abdominal muscles, help you lose weight, or get rock hard abs. But according to FDA, while these devices may temporarily strengthen, tone, or firm a muscle, no electronic muscle stimulator device alone will give you “six-pack” abs.

Always, check with your doctor before starting any weight loss plan.  And be sure to check out any company before you do business with BBB at www.bbb.org.

Cell Phone Safety for Kids and Teens

cell phone safety

Can you hear me now? According to research, 22 percent of young children own a cell phone (ages 6-9), 60 percent of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84 percent of teens.

Many parents make the decision to buy their kids new cell phones and smartphones. Parents generally say they do so for safety reasons; they want to be able to reach the child anytime. Cost is also a factor. Cell phone industry experts say phones and family plans are both becoming more affordable. Also, as adults swap out their old devices for newer smart phones, it is easier to pass down a used phone.

But for children, it is all about social life. A Pew study found that half of 12- to 17-year-olds sent at least 50 text messages a day and texted their friends more than they talked to them on the phone or even face to face.

Of course, owning a cell phone comes with possible outside threats. Here are 10 tips from SafetyWeb (www.safetyweb.com) to help keep your kid safe while using a cell phone:

1. Get Educated and Prepared. Talk to your kids about the dangers and consequences associated with inappropriate cell phone use. Discuss topics of concern, including sexting and texting while driving. Make sure you get caught up on the lingo of popular acronyms and initialisms. Ask your kids to save any abusive or problem messages to show an adult.

2. Select Appropriate Phone Features. If your child is under 10, they probably don’t need a phone with unlimited social networking or email capabilities. Likewise, the actual phone itself doesn’t need built-in features like a web browser or video messaging. For a young child, look for basic phones. Review all pre-programmed apps and phone capabilities beforehand.

3. Use Parental Controls. If your child’s cell phone has access to the internet, find out if your service provider offers some sort of parental control feature to which you can subscribe.

4. Limit Usage. Designate time slots for talking — perhaps after homework and chores are completed, or before dinner. Don’t let constant calls interrupt family time. It’s easy for a chatty teen to cuddle up to a phone at bedtime, so check periodically.

5. Consider Monitoring Services. Perhaps your child is older, but you’re still not comfortable with him or her texting and emailing unmonitored. SafetyWeb provides parents with comprehensive alerts and reports on their child’s cell phone calls and text message activity. This allows you to keep track of when they are using the phone (during school hours or late at night), and who they are communicating with most frequently.

6. Wait Before Answering. Instruct your child not to answer calls or text messages from numbers they don’t recognize. If it is important, the caller will leave a message and then he can decide how to respond. Explain how to block calls from unwanted numbers.

7. Pre-program numbers. To help keep your kids safe, make sure their cell phones have all important phone numbers preprogrammed into it so they can always get a hold of someone if they’re in trouble.

8. Stay Organized. Always keep your child’s cell phone charger in the same place. It’s best to find a central location — like maybe the kitchen counter, or a table by the door. Mark the end of the monthly billing cycle on a calendar to remind her how long those dwindling minutes have to last.

9. Practice Privacy. Tell your teen to use caution when giving out a phone number. Make sure they don’t publicize their number on the internet or social sites like Facebook.

10. Be Careful of Download Overload. Fun ringtones, games, and backgrounds — oh my! But be careful — these additional features can come with potential bugs or hidden fees.

Avoid Card Skimming Scams

atm

It’s National Consumer Protection Week ,and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is proud to join the effort to educate consumers and businesses from becoming victims of fraud and scams. National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions.

NCPW.gov offers consumers a wealth of tips and information from federal and state government and non-profit partner organizations. You can download and print the materials and share them with friends and neighbors, or order materials from select partners if you’re planning a larger event such as a conference or workshop.

It’s up to each of us to stay on top of scams and better protect not only ourselves, but our family (kids and seniors) friends and co-workers.

BBB Tips: Avoiding Card Skimming at ATMs and Other Money Machines

Be wary when you use automated teller machines (ATMs) and other payment processing machines. Thieves may be using high-tech tools in scams to capture your account information to steal your money.

These scams, known as “card skimming,” involve attaching devices to money machines that read the information on your debit and credit cards when you swipe them. When combined with a nearby concealed camera to record your personal identification number (PIN), the thieves can get everything they need to drain your account or to make unauthorized purchases. In addition to using the information directly, thieves may sell your information to others.

ATMs and automated payment machines in airports, convenience stores, hotel lobbies, and other welltraveled, public places may be most vulnerable to thieves who may think these machines are not regularly inspected by the machine owners. However, card skimming may take place at any ATM or card processing machine, including those on bank premises. As technology makes these devices smaller and more powerful, the risk of card skimming grows.

How High-Tech Thieves Operate
Thieves have many ways to steal your account information. They may attach a card skimmer that looks and acts like a genuine part of the ATM or other type of money machine. The device may be a simple, curved plastic sheath over the card slot. The skimmer reads the magnetic strip or computer chip on your card and transmits your account information to the thieves or saves the information until the skimmer is retrieved.

Thieves may also use a wireless camera concealed nearby in a box holding brochures or in a light fixture. The camera photographs or videotapes your fingers as they enter your PIN on a keypad or screen. Like a card skimmer, the camera can transmit images instantly or save them until the thieves retrieve the camera later. A camera and card skimmer can be used together.

Safeguarding Your Personal Bank Account Information
To help protect you, banks and retailers take measures to minimize the risk of fraudulent use of your debit or credit card, particularly when those purchases are made by telephone or online.

Before approving telephone purchases, retailers typically confirm your identity by asking for personal information. They may ask for your address, the last four digits of your social security number, or answers to security questions you created when you set up your account.

Retailers also may ask for the three-digit security code printed on the front or back of your debit or credit card. To protect your online transaction from electronic fraud, many commercial Web sites require you to unscramble a word or a number displayed as a fuzzy or distorted image that is difficult for software to read.

Protecting Yourself With Common Sense Security Measures
Ultimately, you must protect yourself against thieves and the tools they use to access your accounts to steal from you.

To protect yourself, follow these common-sense precautions.
• Walk away from an ATM if you notice someone watching you or if you sense something wrong with the machine; immediately report your suspicions to the company operating the machine or a nearby law enforcement officer.
• Before using an ATM, examine nearby objects that might conceal a camera; check the card slot for a plastic sheath before inserting your card.
• Never keep a written copy of your PIN in your wallet or purse as it could be stolen; instead memorize your PIN and keep a paper record hidden at home.
• When entering your PIN, stand close to the machine and hold your hand over the keypad or screen to make it more difficult for a person or camera to watch you.
• Beware of strangers offering to help you with an ATM that appears disabled and notify someone responsible for the security of the machine.
• Regularly review your account statements, either online or on paper, and check for unauthorized withdrawals and purchases. If you find one, immediately contact your bank or credit card provider, as this will limit your financial liability for fraudulent charges.
Federal laws limit your liability from debit and credit card fraud. Two federal laws, in particular, protect you.

The Truth in Lending Act generally limits your liability to $50 for any unauthorized use of your credit card. However, you are not responsible for unauthorized charges on your account—if you report a lost or stolen credit card before the card is used. Also, you are not responsible if the fraud results from someone using your credit card number alone rather than your credit card.

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act also limits your liability for unauthorized use of your debit or ATM cards—if you quickly report the lost or stolen card. You are not held responsible for unauthorized charges if you report the fraud before unauthorized transactions are made. If unauthorized transac tions occur before you report your card missing or compromised, your liability depends on how quickly you report the loss.

Additional Information
The Federal Trade Commission provides more in formation on what to do if your card is lost or sto len in its fact sheet “Credit, ATM and Debit Cards: What to Do if They’re Lost or Stolen,” at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre04.shtm.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has answers about what to do about unauthorized charges and other banking issues at HelpWithMyBank.gov.

Card Skimming — How It Works: An electronic card swipe device, strategically placed on an ATM machine, records the data from a victim’s card. Another hidden device’s sensor or camera records the victim’s finger strokes on the keypad as the fingers tap in the victim’s PIN number. The device either sends the data to the thief immediately or saves it for the thief to retrieve later. The thief then can use the data online or by phone or copy it onto a blank card to be used in stores or restaurants.

Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks

computer coffee shop

Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotels, universities, and other public places are convenient, but they’re often not secure. When using a hotspot, it’s best to send information only to websites that are fully encrypted. You can be confident a hotspot is secure only if it asks you to provide a WPA password. If you’re not sure, treat the network as if it were unsecured.

How Encryption Works
Encryption is the key to keeping your personal information secure online. Encryption scrambles the information you send over the internet into a code so that it’s not accessible to others. When using wireless networks, it’s best to send personal information only if it’s encrypted – either by an encrypted website or a secure Wi-Fi network.

An encrypted website protects only the information you send to and from that site. A secure wireless network encrypts all the information you send using that network.

How to Tell If a Website is Encrypted
If you send email, share digital photos and videos, use social networks, or bank online, you’re sending personal information over the internet. The information you share is stored on a server – a powerful computer that collects and delivers content. Many websites, such as banking sites, use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server.

To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the beginning of the web address (the “s” is for secure). Some websites use encryption only on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, your entire account could be vulnerable. Look for https on every page you visit, not just when you sign in.

Don’t Assume a Wi-Fi Hotspot is Secure
Most Wi-Fi hotspots don’t encrypt the information you send over the internet and are not secure.

If you use an unsecured network to log in to an unencrypted site – or a site that uses encryption only on the sign-in page – other users on the network can see what you see and what you send. They could hijack your session and log in as you. New hacking tools – available for free online – make this easy, even for users with limited technical know-how. Your personal information, private documents, contacts, family photos, and even your login credentials could be up for grabs.

An imposter could use your account to impersonate you and scam people you care about. In addition, a hacker could test your username and password to try to gain access to other websites – including sites that store your financial information.

Protect Yourself When Using Public Wi-Fi
So what can you do to protect your information? Here are a few tips:
• When using a Wi-Fi hotspot, only log in or send personal information to websites that you know are fully encrypted. To be secure, your entire visit to each site should be encrypted – from the time you log in to the site until you log out. If you think you’re logged in to an encrypted site but find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away.
• Don’t stay permanently signed in to accounts. When you’ve finished using an account, log out.
• Do not use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one of your accounts access to many of your accounts.
• Many web browsers alert users who try to visit fraudulent websites or download malicious programs. Pay attention to these warnings, and keep your browser and security software up-to-date.
• If you regularly access online accounts through Wi-Fi hotspots, use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the internet, even on unsecured networks. You can obtain a personal VPN account from a VPN service provider. In addition, some organizations create VPNs to provide secure, remote access for their employees.
• Some Wi-Fi networks use encryption: WEP and WPA are the most common. WPA encryption protects your information against common hacking programs. WEP may not. WPA2 is the strongest. If you aren’t certain that you are on a WPA network, use the same precautions as on an unsecured network.
• Installing browser add-ons or plug-ins can help, too. For example, Force-TLS and HTTPS-Everywhere are free Firefox add-ons that force the browser to use encryption on popular websites that usually aren’t encrypted. They don’t protect you on all websites – look for https in the URL to know a site is secure.

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau

 

9 Tips for Transitioning Child from Crib to Bed

toddler crib

Child Sleep Expert Amy Lage, Graduate of the Family Sleep Institute and Founder of Well Rested Baby, was recently asked about transitioning a child from crib to toddler bed in her weekly Q&A segment on Hoboken Mommies 24-7. Here is Amy’s expert advice:

Q.  My son recently climbed out of his crib and I am transitioning him to a toddler bed…any advice?

Our first suggestion is to make sure your son is 100% ready for this transition. Safety is our number one priority, so it is our goal to make sure your children’s sleep environment is as safe as possible. So if your child is climbing out of his crib, a change is definitely needed. Our second priority…making sure your child and you get the sleep you need! This transition is a big deal as it affects your child emotionally, physically and mentally. Our advice is to keep your toddler in a crib as long as possible (we recommend waiting until your child is as close to 3 years old as possible). So before you take the leap to a big kid bed, you want to make sure that your child is really ready for this transition. If they are not quite there yet, we want to see if we can safely modify their sleep environment to keep them in their crib until they are ready.

How do you know if your child is ready?

  • They have been consistently climbing out of their crib (and the modifications listed below did not remedy the situation).
  • They understand boundaries and can follow directions.
  • They actually ask for a big kid bed.
  • They are 3 years old!

If your child is not quite ready — check out these three simple changes to see if you can delay the move:

Remove The Bumper — If your child’s crib has a bumper in place, remove the bumper.  If your little monkey is making his great escape by hoisting himself up with the help of his bumper, this usually solves the problem. Without the added height of pushing off the bumper, it will be much harder to climb out.

The Sleep Sack — Put your child to sleep with a sleep sack over their pj’s! This is such an easy modification, yet it is so effective. Most kids cannot climb out of their crib while wearing a sleep sack because it does not allow them to lift up their little legs. You can make it seem like a fun and exciting change to your toddler. Take them shopping and allow them to pick out the color or print themselves. You may need to modify your child’s pajamas to a lighter weight or lower the temperature slightly so they do not become hot in their sleep sack, but these changes are well worth it if the sack safely keeps them in their crib.

Catch Him in the Act — If he is only climbing out at bedtime or at nap-time and you own a video monitor, this tactic is extremely effective.  Position yourself near your child’s bedroom door video monitor in hand.  The very second he starts to attempt to climb out, you quickly open his door and firmly say “NO”.  Without further conversation (you don’t want to give him any added attention as that will just make him want to do it again), you lay him down and leave the room.  For most kids, they are so shocked that they got caught that it just takes this reprimand one time to work.  However, you will want to watch for a few days and repeat as necessary.  If you are 100% consistent with your reaction, the climbing will cease to occur ever again.

If your child cannot stay in their crib safely or you feel that they are ready for the big move, here are nine tips on what you do:

  1. Do Some Prep Work: Get your child involved so they feel in control of the situation and also excited about the new change. If your child is going to stay in their crib converted into a big kid bed, allow them to pick out some new sheets or a new big kid blanket. If they are going to go into a completely new bed, allow your child to be part of picking out the new bed. Pick up a book or two about the transition to help them understand what will happen and to ease any fears. Talk about the transition with them and explain that bedtime will remain the same, they will just be sleeping in new big kid bed.
  2. Keep your current routine in place: By this time you should have a solid bedtime routine in place. Children count on consistency as it makes them feel safe and helps them to understand what to expect. Keep your pre-bedtime routine as consistent as possible as this will just help things go more smoothly.
  3. Implement a Set of Sleep Rules for the New Bed: Before you make the switch, make sure your child understands that they are expected to stay in their bed until the next morning. Expect your child to wander out of their bed the first few nights. Make sure you have a plan in place to deal with this a head of time.
  4. Make Sure their New-found Freedom Doesn’t Spiral Out of Control: With all of this excitement, your child will likely try to get out of their bed during the night at some point in the first few days. When this happens, you need to deal with it quickly and consistently. Every time your child gets out of the bed you will immediately take them by the hand and walk them back to the bed. During this time, you will not acknowledge them by talking or making eye contact. You need to remain completely silent. If you talk to them you are reinforcing the reason why they are getting out of bed in the first place — attention. If there is no communication, the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Our children are quick learners.
  5. Be Firm & Consistent: While it is easy to cave at 3am and allow your little one to crawl into bed with you, be consistent and stick to your plan. With just a few days of absolute consistency, your child will understand the rules and stay in their bed.
  6. Purchase a sleep clock: This is helpful for your child to understand when it is ok to get out of bed in the morning.
  7. If possible, try to make the transition while your child is in a well-rested state.
  8. Make sure your child is not over-tired by allowing for an earlier bedtime if necessary.
  9. Avoid making the switch when there are others changes going on in your toddler’s life — a new baby, potty training, a move etc.

Please visit us at wellrestedbaby.com for further information about infant and toddler sleep.

Amy Lage is a Family Sleep Institute certified Child Sleep Consultant. She is co-owner of Well Rested Baby.  She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions.

The Family Sleep Institute is the very first comprehensive yet affordable child sleep consultant certification program based on 15 years of experience by the leading Child Sleep Expert, Deborah Pedrick. The Family Sleep Institute lives up to its name as it is truly a “family” to all graduates who go through the program.   Deborah Pedrick, founder of www.familysleep.com has been educating families for over 15 years on the importance of establishing and maintaining a healthy foundation for sleep in their children. She is co-founder of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants, www.IACSC.com and Founder/President of the Family Sleep Institute,  www.familysleepinstitute.com, which instructs, mentors and certifies Child S leep Consultants around the world.

 

Common Medicare Scams and Identity Theft

medicare fraud

Common scams

Be suspicious of doctors, health care providers, or suppliers who:
• Ask for your Medicare number in exchange for free equipment or services or for “record keeping purposes”
• Tell you that tests become cheaper as more of them are provided
• Advertise “free” consultations to people with Medicare
• Call or visit you and say they represent Medicare or the federal government
• Use telephone or door-to-door selling techniques
• Use pressure or scare tactics to sell you expensive medical services or diagnostic tests
• Bill Medicare for services you never received or a diagnosis you do not have
• Offer non-medical transportation or housekeeping as Medicare-approved services
• Bill home health services for patients who are not confined to their home, or for patients who still drive a car
• Bill Medicare for medical equipment for people in nursing homes
• Bill Medicare for tests you received as a hospital inpatient or within 72 hours of admission or discharge
• Bill Medicare for a power wheelchair or scooter when you don’t meet Medicare’s qualifications

Identity theft
Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. Personal information includes your name, Social Security, Medicare, or credit card numbers.

The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.

Protect yourself. Keep your personal information safe. Don’t give your information out over the Internet, or to anyone who comes to your home (or calls you) uninvited. Give personal information only to doctors or other Medicare approved providers.

To see if a provider is Medicare approved, call:
• 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227)
877-486-2048 (TTY users)
Quick Tips:
• Has anyone approached you in a public area and offered FREE services, groceries, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number?
JUST WALK AWAY!
• Has someone called you for a “health survey,” then asked you to provide your Medicare number over the phone?
SIMPLY HANG UP THE PHONE!
• Have you found suspicious charges such as high-priced medical services or diagnostic tests on your medical bills? These could be fraudulent charges.
Call 1-800-MEDICARE AND REPORT IT!
• Have doctors, health care providers, or suppliers told you that the equipment or service is free, it won’t cost you anything, and they only need your Medicare number for their records?
JUST SAY NO THANKS!
• Guard your Medicare and Social Security Numbers. Report Fraud to the Office of the Inspector General.
1-800-HHS-TIPS
(1-800-447-8477)
For more information please visit http://www.stopmedicarefraud.gov/index.html

Heart Health Matters: An Interview with Dr. Bukola Olubi

Dr. Bukola Olubi

Dr. Bukola Olubi is a cardiologist at Piedmont Fayette,who graciously allowed us to interview her in honor of heart health month.

Dr. Bukola Olubi

 

Q.         Why did you choose to go into Cardiology?

A.         As a medical student, cardiology appealed to me. I was absolutely fascinated with everything related to the heart.

 

Q.         What do you like most about your job?

A.         I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s extremely rewarding. But it goes both ways in that the people I work with and the patients I interact with on a daily basis also make a difference in my life. The wealth of knowledge that they impart on me through their various experiences is priceless.

 

Q.         What is heart disease and why should we be concerned?

A.         Heart disease is an umbrella term for any type of disorder that affects the heart. There are several different forms of heart disease. These include conditions that can affect:

  • Blood flow to the heart: A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a clot.
  • Disease of the heart muscle. Congestive heart failure can occur when the heart muscle is too weak or too stiff.
  • Heart rhythm problems. This occurs when the heart beats to fast, slow or irregularly. This may result in the need for a pacemaker or defibrillator.
  • Heart valve problems. A valve replacement/repair may be required if a valve is diseased or infected.

It is important to be concerned about heart disease because if it is left untreated or undiagnosed, many heart conditions can lead to disability and premature death. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

 

Q.         What are the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

A.         The typical signs of a heart attack include chest pain, pressure and a feeling of fullness and squeezing that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes. Atypical signs include pain, discomfort or numbness in one or both arms, back, jaw or even between the shoulder blades. Other warning signs include shortness of breath, heartburn, nausea, lightheadedness and cold sweats. Symptoms to watch out for especially in women is feeling fatigued—sometimes for days or weeks before a heart attack occurs. Women may also have heart flutters or lose their appetite.

 

Q.         What should you do if you experience any of the warning signs?

A.         If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. Early recognition of warning signs is critical to reducing the chance of death from heart disease, since interventions are most effective within the first several hours after a heart attack.

 

Q.         Are heart attacks the only heart condition we should be worried about?

A.         No, there are several different forms of heart disease. Other common types of heart diseases include congestive heart failure, heart rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation (commonly called AFib), infection and diseases of the heart valves, just to mention a few. Nearly five million people in the United States are currently living with congestive heart failure.

 

Q.         Aside from maintaining a proper diet and exercising regularly, are there any other recommendations you have for our readers to help keep a heart healthy?

A.         Aside from maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen, I recommend being aware of your family history and your numbers. Make sure to keep your cholesterol in check and see your doctor regularly. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid excessive alcohol intake. If you are man, you should not exceed more than two glasses a day. Women should have no more than one.

Other good measures include:

  • Ensure you maintain adequate blood pressure
  • Don’t smoke and avoid tobacco exposure
  • Optimize blood sugar control
  • Follow your doctor’s orders for taking medications
  • Have your cholesterol levels checked regularly starting at age 20

Dr. Olubi specializes in clinical cardiology. A graduate of Saba University School of Medicine in the Nertherlands Antilles, she completed her residency at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, where she was chief resident and received the Outstanding Senior Resident Award. Following her residency, Dr. Olubi completed a fellowship in cardiology at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, where she was chief fellow.

She is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and its subspecialty Board of Cardiovascular Disease. A member of the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, Dr. Olubi has a particular interest in women’s health. When she is not working, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her husband, daughter and son.