Kids and parents alike relish the low-key, lazy days of summer, but did you know it's an important time of year to stay abreast of safety issues? Here are some important safety tips to keep you aware of potential threats to your summer enjoyment.
Be attentive in public places
The summer is a great time to take a vacation to a new destination, but it can also be a time of vulnerability if you are not aware of your surroundings. When leaving your car for an extended period of time, make sure that it is locked, store any valuable items such as your GPS or iPod in the trunk, and even though it’s hot, make sure to roll up the windows. Criminals regularly stroll through parking lots, searching for valuables and unlocked vehicles. And keep in mind, most criminals prefer an easy target, so when you are out in public places, keep your valuable items out of site as much as possible.
Protect your home
Outside of regularly locking your doors and windows, you should be mindful that scams and home burglaries are known to increase when the weather gets warmer. Keep your grill and lawn equipment locked away in a shed or garage when not in use, and be aware of any strangers in your neighborhood. A good neighbor can be one of the best crime-prevention tools.
Any service or repair person looking to gain access to your home should always carry valid identification. Always ask for ID and let them know that you are going to call their company to confirm before letting them into your home. The National Association of Bunco Investigators (NABI) says when a suspicious repair person knocks on your door, look for these telltale signs of a scam:
· The repair person drives an unmarked truck or van with an out-of-state license.
· Only rarely will legitimate home improvement companies solicit door-to-door. They usually distribute fliers or make phone calls since it's more cost effective for them.
· The worker has no business identification, local address or telephone number. Request identification so that you can call the company for verification.
· You are offered a “special price” if you sign that day. Contractors don’t pressure customers to sign a contract or job order immediately.
· Beware of excuses such as "We just finished a job around the corner and had extra materials that we could offer you at a discounted price." Professional companies do not operate in that manner.
· The worker asks for upfront costs or fees, or accepts only cash. Reputable contractors do not ask for all the money up front. A customer pays one third of the bill first, then another third midway through the job, and the rest when the work is completed.
· Never pay in cash. Using a check keeps a record of the transaction and often provides identification of the person cashing the check.
· No written estimates or contracts are offered. If you have no contract, you have no recourse if the job is faulty or is never completed.
· The worker has no references. Ask for references and check around the neighborhood to see if anyone has contracted with this person to do work on their home.
Follow these tips along with your normal safety routine, and you'll be on the road to a happier, safer summer.
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