Fire Damage in the Home You Rent in Riverside: Will Your Renter’s Insurance Cover You?
Knowing about the five major coverage areas is a good starting place. Work with your insurance agent, do your research.
Experiencing a fire in your Riverside, CA, residence can be unsettling and stressful. Understanding how your renters insurance policy will cover you can provide some peace of mind during a challenging time.
The Big Picture of Fire Coverage
Renters are covered for fire damage, but policies can vary greatly. Knowing a bit about the five major coverage areas is a good starting place.
Personal Property – This coverage allows you to be reimbursed for your personal property loss from a fire.
Liability – This benefit allows payment to others if another person sustains loss or injury as a result of your home fire.
Loss of Use – This coverage reimburses you for expenses you incur if you need to live outside your home while fire restoration proceeds.
Mandatory Evacuations – This applies if you incur living expenses or loss due to a mandatory evacuation of your home.
Natural Peril – If your fire started because of an extreme weather event or natural disaster, this provision requires your policy to cover your damages.
There are a few specific renters insurance provisions that are worthy of consideration as they may vary between policies.
Renter's Policy and Coverage Variables
As with any insurance product, it is prudent to weigh all of the factors when evaluating your current policy or a new one. Comparing coverage limits and deductibles is a good place to start. Your policy will generally cover the professional fire restoration process, but one variable that can make a big difference is the personal property reimbursement provision. Replacement value coverage is far superior as it pays for the cost of replacing your items, not just their current value. It is a good idea to confirm that fire damage will be covered even if it is secondary to an event such as an earthquake. Finally, it’s important to understand whether there are exclusions or exceptions as to the cause of the fire.
If you are preemptively investigating fire insurance for renters, this information may help you shop for the best coverage. If you’ve experienced a fire in your residence, understanding your renters insurance may help relieve your financial concerns and make an unsettling situation less stressful.
There are many renters out there that don’t understand renters insurance, or they don’t think that they need it. Here are 5 myths and facts about renter’s insurance. According to State Farm:MYTH: The landlord’s insurance covers your possessions. Don’t count on it. Most landlords’ insurance covers only the building and damages due to negligence. Coverage for some of the most common causes of property damage and loss, such as theft, vandalism, and fire, is entirely up to you. Without renter’s insurance, you may have to bear the financial burden of a loss on your own.MYTH: Renters insurance is expensive. In this case, the numbers speak for themselves. According to the IIABA, the average renter’s policy costs just $12 a month for up to $30,000 in personal property coverage. That’s solid coverage for less than the cost of a couple cups of coffee a week.Still concerned about price? Your insurer will work with you to find the combination of coverage and cost that suits your needs. You might even qualify for a discount by taking some simple home safety precautions or purchasing another policy, such as auto insurance, with the same insurer.MYTH: You don’t need insurance if your stuff isn’t expensive. Most renters’ belongings cost more than they think. In fact the average person has over $20,000 worth of belongings that are probably not covered by a landlord’s policy.Think that number is too high? Take a moment to add up the approximate cost of your computer, television, stereo, furniture, jewelry, and clothing. If a fire gutted your apartment tomorrow, would you have the cash to replace it all?MYTH: Renters insurance covers only your possessions. In fact, renters insurance covers much more than just your personal property. The average policy also includes up to $100,000 in liability coverage. That means in the event of a covered loss, your insurer will help cover the costs if you’re held responsible for injuring another person or damaging another person’s property, including our landlord’s. Moreover, this coverage applies whether the incident occurred within your residence or elsewhere.MYTH: Renter’s insurance is hard to get. The internet makes getting renter’s insurance easier than ever. You can research providers, compare quotes, and even find an agent online. Or, just as easily, you can place a quick call to an insurance representative. Answer a few questions and you’re likely to get a rate quote almost immediately.
Tips for Choosing the Right Biohazard Cleanup Service in Riverside City
In addition to proper training and experience, a person involved in biohazard remediation must have proper personal protective gear or PPE.
If you’ve found yourself in a position in which you require the services of a biohazard cleaning company, ensure that you hire the best biohazard remediation service for the job.
Questions you should ask
- How long have you been in business
- What type of insurance does your company maintain
- Are your registered with the State of California
- How does the company respect privacy
- What are your hours of availability
Always Choose Trained Professionals
- Because it’s traumatic: No one should have to deal with the personal impact of cleaning up after the traumatic loss of a loved one. A professional SERVPRO can get a situation cleaned up quickly, compassionately and discreetly.
- Because it’s safer: Federal regulations classify all human and animal remains, including blood, urine, feces, vomit and bodily fluids, as biohazards. This is because they have the potential of carrying life-threatening pathogens such as Hepatitis B and C, AIDS, HIV, MRSA, Tuberculosis and many more. The safe cleanup and removal of bio-hazardous materials involves extensive analysis and detailed work, and the use of state-of-the-art cleaning and odor removal technologies.
Need Biohazard Cleanup? Call Us Today – 951-351-8033
Licensed Bonded & Insured
- It is important to use licensed professionals because they conduct safe cleanup, removal and disposal of bio-hazardous waste. Additional considerations include being registered and compliant with OSHA and FEMA, federal agencies that oversee disasters and workplace safety. Cleanup crews will be coming into your home or the home of your loved one, so be sure the professional you choose is bonded and insured.
Approved Vendors for Most Major Insurance Companies
- In most cases, insurance will cover much or all of the cost of traumatic even cleanup. You can minimize or eliminate your out-of-pocket expenses by working with licensed and bonded professionals such as SERVPRO of West Riverside City who will deal directly with insurance companies, saving you one more headache in this already difficult process.
We provide cleanup and recovery services for many biohazard situations. These include the following:
- Suicide/death accidents
- Homicide cleanups
- Blood cleanup
- Accident cleanup
- Hoarding scenes
- Animal waste/remains
- Chemical spills
- Tear gas cleanup
- Meth lab cleanup
Q: Can I just use my regular cleaning or janitorial service for biohazard cleanup of blood or bodily fluids?
A: Not unless your regular cleaning or janitorial service has been properly trained and equipped to handle biohazard cleanup and waste such as blood or bodily fluids, and has a legal place to dispose of the recovered biohazardous waste.
Q: Who pays for bio-recovery services?
A: In many cases home, business or auto insurance will pay for bio-recovery services. Ultimately the property owner may be responsible for cost of the service.
Q: Can I have an employee of my business clean the scene?
A: Federal Regulation 29cfr1910.1030 states that no employee can be placed in a position to be exposed to biohazard cleanup of blood spills without first:
- Receiving Blood Borne Pathogen (bbp) training.
- Having a written BBP exposure control plan.
- Having been provided personal protective equipment.
- Having been offered Hepatitis B vaccine and exposure evaluation and follow-up.
- Being provided with a method to remove and properly store the bio-hazardous waste in properly marked containers for disposal at an approved site.
Universal Precautions and Protective Attire in California
Following the OSHA Blood Pathogens Standard, the state of California has delineated the universal precautions, and associated protective attire, that must be utilized when workers are exposed to blood, other bodily fluids, and other biological materials. This includes workers in the healthcare as well as the biohazard remediation industries.
Essential protective attire mandated by the state of California, following OSHA protocols, includes:
- Disposable gloves
- Protective gowns or uniforms (there is a preference, although no mandatory requirement, that this type of protective gear be disposable)
- Protective eyewear and masks or face shields
For more information please visit:
The other OSHA requirements for blood cleanup include:
- Immediately limit access to the area contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, or potentially hazardous biological materials.
- Cleanup blood, fluids, and materials as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
- Dispose of the collected blood (and other materials) together with the items used to cleanup these biomaterials in a proper biohazard receptacle.
- Sanitize all items that came into contact with blood, fluids, or biological materials.
- If sanitation is impossible, any contaminated items need to be removed and properly disposed of.
- Although not a specific OSHA requirement, deodorization is another step taken when it comes to comprehensive remediation of a traumatic scene or other situation in which blood or other biomaterials are present.
- Properly dispose of all protective gear utilized in the blood cleanup process.
- Safely and properly transport all items designated for disposal to a licensed biological material and hazardous waste disposal provider.
The OSHA requirements for cleaning up biohazardous waste are designed to fulfill the underlying mission of the agency. The mission of OSHA, since its creation, is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” Thus, the agency maintains resources of different types that are designed to ensure that a business with workers exposed to biohazardous waste is able to develop suitable safety protocols. See
Storm Chasing Companies, Should Riverside Residents Trust Them?
This home caught fire in Riverside, be prepared with phone numbers. Inform your insurance agent & Call SERVPRO of West Riverside City 951-351-8033
Don't be scammed by storm chasers.
Contractor duo trolled neighborhoods after storms, offering to fix damaged homes. The duo stole more than $770,000 in down payments from storm-traumatized homeowners — without fixing the homes. Many victims were elderly. These storm chasers have a new roof: They received up to 20 years in prison. This story ended in justice but all too often home and business owners are taken advantage of by less than reputable people.
You can keep scammers away. Protect your family, bank account and yourself from crooks: Stay alert, ask questions and go slow and pay attention to details.
Contact your insurance agent don’t trust that the contractor will file the claim for you. No one should be filing a claim on your insurance but you. This is a good time to talk with your agent about if you should even file a claim or not. You may need additional information like estimates from a reputable company.
After a damage to your car or home...Take photos of the damage and passengers. You can prevent fake injury and damage claims.
Contact your state insurance department or National Insurance Crime Bureau (1-800-835-6422) to report a scam. You can also report a scam with the BBB
Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts, if temporary roofing repairs are necessary. Know what your deductible is and know when to file a claim.
Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. Don't be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Be proactive in selecting a business and not reactive to sales solicitations. It is common for storm chasers to call and knock on your door.
For major repairs, take time to shop around and get 3-4 estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references that are at least one year old, verify with your local government to find out whether or not businesses are required to be licensed/registered to do work in your area, and check with your local building inspector to see if a building permit is required.
Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have leftover materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business. If salespeople go door-to-door, check to see if your community requires them to have solicitation permits.
Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or building official inspect it. While most roofing contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know inspect your roof. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work. This goes for Mold Remediation also. Contact an independent environmental specialist to perform an air quality test. Or ask if they do the test themselves or do they have a third party perform the test. If the mold inspection company does the testing or the roofer does the inspection what do you think the odds of them finding work for themselves to perform are?
Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, license number, if applicable, and phone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, and don’t sign a blank contract. A copy of the signed contract is to be given to you at time of signature. What certifications does the company have?
Storm damages change based on your location. We here in the California area experience wildfires and strong winds. But in other areas they experience tornadoes or hurricanes. It's still important to be informed on the various kinds of storms that could occur in your area. Be prepared on who to contact. Have numbers handy on your phone. Inform your insurance agent and Call a trusted company, call SERVPRO of West Riverside City 951-351-8033
Mold Prevention that Work for Your Riverside Home
SERVPRO of West Riverside City specializes in mold cleanup and restoration, Our crews are highly trained restoration professionals.
Although there are a variety of challenges that residential and commercial property owners can experience, the presence of mold is particularly problematic.
This is the case for many reasons, including the fact that mold can cause health problems and decrease the structural integrity of one’s property. There are ways to prevent the growth of mold, but your best course of action is hiring a professional mold remediation company. Try implementing some or all of the following six mold prevention tips:Invest In A Dehumidification System.
One of the best ways to prevent the growth and proliferation of mold is to invest in an air conditioner that features a dehumidification system. These systems are effective in removing moisture from your property. Once the moisture is removed, the mold is deprived of one of the vital nutrients that help it grow.Be Cautious When Turning The AC Off.
Make sure that you are cautious when you turn off your air conditioner. In climates that are humid, a long-standing period of inactivity can enable humidity levels to become dangerously high. If the humidity level becomes extremely high, it creates the moist environment necessary for mold to grow and thrive.Use Insulation.
Another strategy you can use to prevent mold is the use of insulation. By installing insulation as well as vapor barriers, you can prevent condensation from accumulating on objects like plumbing fixtures, beams, and water pipes.Avoid Standing Water.
Stagnant water can become a breeding area for mold. Since this is the case, make sure that you keep your tubs, showers, sinks and all other wet regions of your property free of standing water.Review Your Applications.
Another strategy for mold prevention is application review. Make sure that all of your construction, design, and architectural applications are effective in preventing water from coming in contact with the interior of your property and goods. Specific regions of concern include poorly designed balconies, pitched roofs, improperly installed flashing, doors, windows, thin stucco, and vapor barriers.Maintain Structure Regularly.
One final way to help prevent mold growth is to ensure that the integrity of your building envelope is maintained. You can achieve this objective by investing in regular roof flashing, caulking, sealing, and inspections of the exterior.
Mold can be a severe problem for residential and commercial property owners to handle. However, using the prevention tips and tricks outlined above can help you keep your property mold-free. In the event that mold growth does transpire, call a professional restoration company. They have extensive experience in the mold remediation field and can assist with your mold restoration needs.
If you suspect Mold
If you see visible mold, do not disturb it. You can inadvertently spread the mold infestation throughout your home. When mold is disturbed, the mold can release microscopic mold spores which become airborne and can circulate inside your home.
What to Do:
· Stay out of affected areas.
· Turn off the HVAC system and fans.
· Contact SERVPRO of West Riverside City for mold remediation services.
What Not to Do:
· Don’t touch or disturb the mold.
· Don’t blow air across any surfaces with visible or suspected mold growth.
· Don’t attempt to dry the area yourself.
· Don’t spray bleach or other disinfectants on the mold.
About Our Mold Remediation Services
SERVPRO of West Riverside City specializes in mold cleanup and restoration, in fact, it’s a cornerstone of our business. Our crews are highly trained restoration professionals that use specialized equipment and techniques to properly remediate your mold problem quickly and safely.
If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – SERVPRO of West Riverside City 951-351-8033
Riverside Landlord Versus Tenant Flood Responsibilities
Flooding can be stressful and confusing. Once you and your family are safe, it is time to think about repairing and restoring your home or business.
Flooding can be stressful and confusing. Once you and your family are safe, it is time to think about repairing and restoring your home or business.
Homeowners, business owners and renters alike now have to navigate the waters of insurance coverage. For homeowners, the process is likely clear. For landlords and tenants, however, it may be a bit more complicated. What does commercial property insurance cover? What does renter’s insurance cover?
The first step as a landlord is to know your insurance coverage. Flood insurance is not typically part of general property insurance. Talk to your agent about your specific policy. Landlords are responsible for the following in the case of a flood:
• Whether insurance covers flooding or not, you as the property owner are still responsible for returning the dwelling to a safe, livable situation for your tenants. This must be done in a reasonably timely manner, so contact a water restoration specialist as soon as possible to avoid secondary damage from occurring.
• Damages to the building are covered by the landlord, including all appliances that were not purchased and installed by the tenants. Flooring, drywall, electrical and other structures are under the property owner’s purview as well.
The landlord is not responsible for all damage, so as the tenant it is important to obtain renter’s insurance and know what is covered. As with landlords, flood coverage is not typically included in basic insurance, so talk to your agent about the details. Tenants should know the following information:
- As a renter, your personal belongings are covered under your insurance.
- Relocation, if the apartment or dwelling is unlivable, is usually covered by your insurance and rent does not need to be paid during that time. You may choose to discontinue the lease if the damage is severe.
Whether you are the landlord or tenant, obtain the appropriate insurance coverage. Understand what your property or renter’s insurance covers, and what your responsibilities are in the case of a flood in Riverside.
You went downstairs to switch over your laundry and realize your laundry room is flooded and you need to call SERVPRO of West Riverside City, what are they going to ask? Callers Name/Customer Name - Who will be responsible for decision and billing. Property Address Customer Phone Number Insurance Company, Claim Number, Deductible amount, insurance adjuster(if assigned yet) - Some of these items may not be known right away but are very important to ensure the insurance is able to be communicated with during the process. What, where, when - What broke, a pipe, toilet overfilled, storm related? What areas of the home is damaged, how big of an area, what kind of flooring? When did it happen?Has the source been corrected or stopped? Before services can be effective by SERVPRO you may need to have a plumber correct or stop the leak.
If you call us day or night, you'll speak to a local representative to help guide you threw the next steps.
Now that we got the question completed, were scheduling services to begin and load up the vans.
Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today 951-351-8033
SERVPRO West Riverside City specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke, or water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPROs corporate training facility, to regular IICRC-industry certification, you can rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.
Why Do We Have Red flag fire danger in Riverside?
In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire. Protect yourself and your family by preparing in advance.
Fire is FAST!
In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire. There is little time to escape. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill your home.
Santa Anas are dry, warm (often hot) winds that blow westward through Southern California toward the coast. They're usually seasonal, and typically occur between October and March and peak in December. They originate when high pressure systems form over the high-elevation deserts of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada's and the Rocky Mountains. Air from the system flows clockwise, so winds on the southern side of the system push west towards the Pacific Ocean.
The winds pass over the mountains between coastal California and the inland deserts. As they flow downslope, the air gets compressed and rises in temperature at a rate of almost 29 degrees per mile of descent. While air's temperature rises, its relative humidity drops, commonly to less than 20 percent and sometimes to even less than 10 percent. The winds also increase dramatically in speed when they're forced through narrow mountain passes and canyons.
By the time the winds hit the coastal areas, they're very dry, warm, and moving fast. This is what makes them problematic. They dry out vegetation, making it better fuel for a fire—and once a fire starts, the winds fan the flames and help spread them. From Mentalfloss.com.
The California of Forestry & Fire Protections says, " A Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high."
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
- Seventy-one percent of households have a fire escape plan, but only 47% of those have practiced it.
- One-third believe they have at least six minutes before a fire in their home becomes life-threatening.
- Only 8% said their first thought was to get out when they heard the smoke alarm.
It's clear from this survey that many in our community probably don't understand the life-threatening risks from heat and toxic smoke produced in a modern home fire. Fire departments need to re-enforce these messages about the characteristics of fire: Fire is FAST. Fire is DARK. Fire is HOT. Fire is DEADLY!
Thirty years ago, people had 17 minutes to escape a home fire: now they have about two minutes. New construction practices and materials, as well as the furniture inside, cause fires to burn faster. Another hazard found in many homes is synthetic materials such as rubber, plastic or foam. When those materials burn, they can cause cyanide poisoning. Most people who die in a fire die from smoke inhalation, not burns.
Fire is FAST!
In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire.
Fire is HOT! If you inhale the super-hot air in a home fire, it will scorch your lungs. Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperature can rise to 600 degrees F at eye level.
Fire is dark! If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded disoriented and unable to find your way around your home. Fire isn't bright. But quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
Fire is DEADLY! The odorless, colorless fumes from a home fire can lull you into a deep sleep. You may not wake up in time to escape. Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do.
The first step is working with your household to develop a plan for home. IAFC’s Ready, Set, Go! Program’s "Your Personal Wildland Fire Action Guide" provides handy checklists that will walk you through creating a family disaster plan, building emergency kits, identifying where to get wildfire updates from, and knowing when to evacuate.
Homeowners can reduce their risk of loss to wildfire this time of year by making simple and low-cost improvements to their home and landscape. Some of these activities are typical fall home maintenance projects, such as:Removing dead branches from trees and shrubbery (fall is a great time of year to prune bushes and trees, reducing the ability for fire to move up from shrubs into trees);Removing leaves from gutters and roofs;Removing weeds (that are drying out) from around the home especially within the first 5 feet of the home; andMaking sure vents are screened and cleared of debris
Being prepared is the key. Riverside is not out of danger. We still have potential winds through March. If you would like to read about more tips, check out our website under SERVPRO Blogs
Pet Fire Safety Protecting Your Riverside Pets from Potential Danger
SERVPRO of West Riverside mascot Ellie is happy to know her owner has prepared an emergency plan in the event of a fire.
Emergencies can happen at any moment and can come in a myriad of ways. While we may never be able to fully prevent such events from happening, we can prepare ourselves and our pets for when they do.
The American Red Cross put together important tips concerning fire safety in your home. Use this list to ensure that you and your furry friends are prepared should a fire break out.
Home fires are the most common disaster that the American Red Cross responds to – and also the most preventable.The best way to protect your pets from the effects of a fire is to include them in your family plan. This includes having their own disaster supplies kit as well as arranging in advance for a safe place for them to stay if you need to leave your home.When you practice your escape plan, practice taking your pets with you. Train them to come to you when you call.In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. But remember: never delay escape or endanger yourself or family to rescue a family pet.
Prevent Your Pets from Starting Fires
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that nearly 1,000 home fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners' pets. The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces to provide the following tips:Extinguish Open Flames - Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.Remove Stove Knobs - Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house - a stove or cooktop is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.Invest in Flameless Candles - These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.Secure Young Pets - keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
Help Firefighters Help Your PetsKeep pets near entrances when away from home. Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.Affix a pet alert window cling and write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets. Make sure to keep the number of pets listed on them updated.
Pets become a part of our families, and we need to remember that we need to have plans in place for them too when it comes to safely evacuating a home in case of a fire. And remember, if you are victim of a house fire, SERVPRO® of West Riverside City can help #LikeItNeverEvenHappened.
Riverside, How to Protect yourselves from IDENTITY THEFT AND INTERNET SCAMS
As technology continues to evolve, cybercriminals will use techniques to exploit technology to steal your identity, personal information, & money.
Today’s technology allows us to connect around the world, to bank and shop online, and to control our televisions, homes, and cars from our smartphones.
With this added convenience comes an increased risk of identity theft and Internet scams. #BeCyberSmart on the Internet—at home, at school, at work, on mobile devices, and on the go.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The total number of data breaches reported in 2018 decreased 23% from the total number of breaches reported in 2017, but the reported number of consumer records containing sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) exposed increased 126%. Identity Theft Resource Center, “2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report”, 2018
- Credit card fraud tops the list of identity theft reports in 2018. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 167,000 reports from people who said their information was misused on an existing account or to open a new credit card account. Federal Trade Commission, “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2018”, 2019.
- Consumers reported $905 million in total fraud losses in 2017, a 21.6% increase over 2016. Experian, “Identify Theft Statistics”, 2019.
COMMON INTERNET SCAMS
As technology continues to evolve, cybercriminals will use more sophisticated techniques to exploit technology to steal your identity, personal information, and money. To protect yourself from online threats, you must know what to look for. According to the FTC, these are the top three kinds of threats reported in 2018:
- Identity theft is the illegal acquisition and use of someone else’s personal information to obtain money or credit. Signs of identity theft include bills for products or services you did not purchase, suspicious charges on your credit cards, or new accounts opened in your name that you did not authorize.
- Imposter scams occur when you receive an email or call from a person claiming to be a government official, family member, or friend requesting personal or financial information. For example, an imposter may contact you from the Social Security Administration informing you that your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended, in hopes you will reveal your SSN or pay to have it reactivated.
- Debt Collection scams occur when criminals attempt to collect on a fraudulent debt. Signs the “debt collector” may be a scammer are requests to be paid by wire transfers or credit cards. In 2018 there was a spike in requests for gift cards and reloadable cards as well.
SIMPLE TIPS TO PROTECT IT.
- Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device, such as your smartphone, an authenticator app, or a secure token—a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring. Read the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) How-to-Guide for more information.
- Shake up your password protocol. According to NIST guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. Read the Creating a Password Tip Sheet for more information.
- Be up to date. Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Maintain your security settings to keeping your information safe by turning on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it, and set your security software to run regular scans.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM ONLINE FRAUD
Stay Protected While Connected: The bottom line is that whenever you’re online, you’re vulnerable. If devices on your network are compromised for any reason, or if hackers break through an encrypted firewall, someone could be eavesdropping on you—even in your own home on encrypted Wi-Fi.
- Practice safe web surfing wherever you are by checking for the “green lock” or padlock icon in your browser bar—this signifies a secure connection. • When you find yourself out in the great “wild Wi-Fi West,” avoid free Internet access with no encryption. • If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good Internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. • Don’t reveal personally identifiable information such as your bank account number, SSN, or date of birth to unknown sources. • Type website URLs directly into the address bar instead of clicking on links or cutting and pasting from the email.
RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU
If you discover that you have become a victim of cybercrime, immediately notify authorities to file a complaint. Keep and record all evidence of the incident and its suspected source. The list below outlines the government organizations that you can file a complaint with if you are a victim of cybercrime.
- FTC.gov: The FTC’s free, one-stop resource, www.IdentityTheft.gov can help you report and recover from identity theft. Report fraud to the FTC at ftc.gov/OnGuardOnline or www.ftc.gov/complaint
- US-CERT.gov: Report computer or network vulnerabilities to US-CERT via the hotline: 1-888-282-0870 or www.us-cert.gov. Forward phishing emails or websites to US-CERT at phishing- firstname.lastname@example.org.
- IC3.gov: If you are a victim of online crime, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://www.IC3.gov.
- SSA.gov: If you believe someone is using your SSN, contact the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
Checking your Riverside home after a fire, Taking the Appropriate Steps to Stay Safe
If your experience a fire, SERVPRO of West Riverside City can help relieve stress. We can work with your insurance agent to determine the next steps.
It's scary to think of experiencing a home fire. Being prepared will help you get through this stressful process. It can happen to anyone at any time. The key is knowing what to do in advance should you experience a home fire. Here are some important tips from our friends at American Red Cross.
Do not cut or walk past colored tape that was placed over doors or windows to mark damaged areas unless local authorities advise that it is safe to do so. If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on the home, do not enter it until you get more information, advice and instructions about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home.
If you have children, leave them with a relative or friend while you conduct your first inspection of your home after the fire. The site may be unsafe for children, and seeing the damage firsthand may upset them and cause long-term effects, including nightmares.
Check for Structural DamageCheck the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks, missing support beams or other damage. Damage on the outside can indicate a serious problem inside. Ask a building inspector or contractor to check the structure before you enter.If the door is jammed, don’t force it open – it may be providing support to the rest of your home. Find another way to get inside.Damaged locks should be taken apart and wiped with oil. If locks can’t be removed, squirt machine oil through a bolt opening or keyhole, and work the knob to distribute the oil. Hinges should also be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.Sniff for gas. If you detect natural or propane gas, or hear a hissing noise, leave the property immediately and get well away from it. Call the fire department after you reach safety.If you have a propane tank system, turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system out before you use it again.Check for smoke and embers throughout the home, including the attic.Beware of animals, such as rodents, snakes, spiders and insects, that may have entered your home. As you inspect your home, tap loudly and often on the floor with a stick to give notice that you are there.Damaged objects, such as furniture or stairs, may be unstable. Be very cautious when moving near them. Avoid holding, pushing or leaning against damaged building parts.Is your ceiling sagging? That means it got wet – which makes it heavy and dangerous. It will have to be replaced, so you can try to knock it down. Be careful: wear eye protection and a hard hat, use a long stick, and stand well away from the damaged area. Poke holes in the ceiling starting from the outside of the bulge to let any water drain out slowly. Striking the center of the damaged area may cause the whole ceiling to collapse.Is the floor sagging? It could collapse under your weight, so don’t walk there! Small sections that are sagging can be bridged by thick plywood panels or thick, strong boards that extend at least 8–12 inches on each side of the sagging area.If the weather is dry, open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.If power is out, use a flashlight. Do not use any open flame, including candles, to inspect for damage or serve as alternate lighting.Disconnect and check all appliances for water damage before using them.Make temporary repairs such as covering holes, bracing walls, and removing debris. Save all receipts.Take photographs of the damage. You may need these to substantiate insurance claims later.
Checking Utilities and Major Systems
TelephonesCheck each telephone to see if it is still on the hook. Hang up any phones that aren’t. Wait a few minutes, and then pick up one phone to listen for a dial tone to know whether you have working telephone service.If you don’t have a dial tone, try unplugging all the phones. Plug in one at a time and listen for dial tone. This will help you determine if the phone itself is broken or the service is completely out. If it is, contact the telephone company to report the problem and request repair.
Electrical, Plumbing and Heating SystemsIf you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.If there is a pool of water on the floor between you and the fuse box or circuit breaker panel, use a dry wooden stick to try to reach to turn off the main fuse or breaker, but do not step or stand in water to do that. If you cannot reach the fuse box or breaker panel, call a qualified electrician for assistance.Inspect the panel box for any breakers that may have tripped. A tripped breaker may indicate damaged wiring inside your home. Do not turn them on. Call an electrician.Use a flashlight to inspect fuses. Replace broken fuses with exactly the same amperage rating and never use an object such as a coin or strip of metal to bypass the protection that fuses provide.If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using sinks, showers or toilets and call a plumber.If water pipes are damaged, turn off the water at the main valve. Call a plumber for assistance.If you have a heating oil tank system, turn off all valves and contact a professional specializing in maintenance of such equipment before using it again.
Checking Household Items
- Normal household items, such as cleaning products, can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if they mix. See our household chemical safety tips.
- Spilled chemicals that don’t pose a health risk must still be carefully cleaned up. Wear rubber gloves and discard spilled chemicals and rags used for cleaning according to the advice of local authorities.
- Throw away food, beverages and medicine exposed to heat, smoke or soot. Food that was in the freezer can be used if it still has ice crystals on it. If not, discard it.
Make Sure to:Stay out of any building that has water around it.Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Report them immediately to the power company.Contact your insurance agent. Do not discard damaged goods until an inventory has been taken. Save receipts for money spent relating to fire loss. Your insurance agent may provide immediate help with living expenses until you are able to return home and may offer assistance for repairs.
National Cybersecurity Awareness month-Riverside are you Aware?
There are many ways to protect ourselves from cyber attacks. Internet of Things and Online Privacy are two areas we can focus on.
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyber attacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.
Implementing effective cybersecurity measures is particularly challenging today because there are more devices than people, and attackers are becoming more innovative.
With the help from our friends at Homeland Security, SERVPRO of West Riverside City hopes our Riverside neighbors find these tips regarding Internet of Things and Online Privacy helpful.
INTERNET OF THINGS
Internet of Things (IoT) or smart devices refers to any object or device that is connected to the Internet. This rapidly expanding set of “things,” which can send and receive data, includes cars, appliances, smart watches, lighting, home assistants, home security, and more. #BeCyberSmart to connect with confidence and protect your interconnected world.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
• Cars, appliances, wearables, lighting, healthcare, and home security all contain sensing devices that can talk to another machine and trigger other actions. Examples include devices that direct your car to an open spot in a parking lot; mechanisms that control energy use in your home; and tools that track eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.
• New Internet-connected devices provide a level of convenience in our lives, but they require that we share more information than ever.
• The security of this information, and the security of these devices, is not always guaranteed. Once your device connects to the Internet, you and your device could potentially be vulnerable to all sorts of risks. • With more connected “things” entering our homes and our workplaces each day, it is important that everyone knows how to secure their digital lives.
SIMPLE TIPS TO OWN IT.
• Shake up your password protocol. Change your device’s factory security settings from the default password. This is one of the most important steps to take in the protection of IoT devices. According to NIST guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and create a unique password for your IoT devices. Read the Creating a Password Tip Sheet for more information.
• Keep tabs on your apps. Many connected appliances, toys, and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved— gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.
• Secure your network. Properly secure the wireless network you use to connect Internet-enabled devices. Consider placing these devices on a separate and dedicated network. For more information on how you can secure your network, view the National Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Information page.
• If you connect, you must protect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices, the best defense is to stay on top of things by updating to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. If you have the option to enable automatic updates to defend against the latest risks, turn it on.
The Internet touches almost all aspects of our daily lives. We are able to shop, bank, connect with family and friends, and handle our medical records all online. These activities require you to provide personally identifiable information (PII) such as your name, date of birth, account numbers, passwords, and location information. #BeCyberSmart when sharing personal information online to reduce the risk of becoming a cyber crimes victim.
DID YOU KNOW?
• 64% of U.S. adults have noticed or been notified of a major data breach affecting their sensitive accounts or personal data. Smith, Aaron. “Americans and Cybersecurity.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. April 27, 2017.
• Roughly half of Americans (49%) feel that their personal information is less secure than it was five years ago. Ibid.
• 58% of Americans age 50 and older are more likely to feel that their personal information has become less safe in recent years: 58% of Americans in this age group express this opinion. Ibid.
• 69% of consumers believe companies are vulnerable to hacks and cyberattacks. PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Consumer Intelligence Series: Protect.me.” PwC. 2017.
SIMPLE TIPS TO OWN IT.
• Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device, such as your smartphone, an authenticator app, or a secure token—a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring. Read the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) How-to-Guide for more information.
• Shake up your password protocol. According to NIST guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. Read the Creating a Password Tip Sheet for more information.
• Be up to date. Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Maintain your security settings to keeping your information safe by turning on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it, and set your security software to run regular scans.
• If you connect, you must protect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices, the best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Sign up for automatic updates, if you can, and protect your devices with anti-virus software. Read the Phishing Tip Sheet for more information.
• Play hard to get with strangers. Cyber criminals use phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims. If you’re unsure who an email is from—even if the details appear accurate— or if the email looks “phishy,” do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. When available use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from a particular sender.
• Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media—from personal addresses to where you like to grab coffee. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all that criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings—online and in the real world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday, and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are—and where you aren’t—at any given time. Read the Social Media Cybersecurity Tip Sheet for more information.
• Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected appliances, toys, and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved—gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and use the “rule of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use. Learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.
• Stay protected while connected. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot—such as at an airport, hotel, or café—be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good Internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Only use sites that begin with “https://” when online shopping or banking.