All posts by whitmanamber

You’ll be SHOCKED to hear this if you own a car with keyless entry!

 

I read a New York Times article today in which the author, Nick Bilton, shared a story about a string of vehicle break-ins that happened in his city over the past month or so that involved no signs of forced entry. Puzzling? Yes.

 

One such incident occurred to Nick while he was at home, sitting in his home office. It was mid morning when his dog’s ears perked up and began growling at something outside. So Nick walked to his front window that views the street where his Toyota Prius was parked, and locked. What he saw next was absolutely shocking!

 

Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were beside his Prius on bicycles. The girl pulled out a small, black, box like object from her backpack, pulled on the car handle…and OPENED the door!

 

Flabbergasted, Nick ran outside scaring the kids away on their bikes, and chased them down the sidewalk hoping to find out what they used to open his car door. Unable to catch the attempted thieves, he began his search on what they could have used to gain entry into his vehicle. What he discovered is shocking and I feel needs to be shared with as many people as possible to spread awareness.

 

Owners who use keyless entry key fobs to unlock their vehicles are at great risk of vehicle theft.

 

In Nick’s research, he spoke with a founder of 3db Technologies, Boris Danev. 3db Technologies is a security company based in Switzerland, and Mr. Danev specializes in wireless devices, including key fobs, and has written several research papers on the security flaws of keyless car systems.

 

Mr. Danev explains that key fobs work in the following way:

 

In a normal scenario, when you walk up to a car with a keyless entry and try the door handle, the car wirelessly calls out for your key so you don’t have to press any buttons to get inside. If the key calls back, the door unlocks. But the keyless system is capable of searching for a key only within a couple of feet.

The teenage girl used a device called a “power amplifier.” Mr. Danev knew immediately what had happened to Nick as he was sharing his story and explained that these devices are relatively simple in nature and inexpensive to obtain ($100 or less).

When the teenage girl turned on her device, it amplified the distance that the car can search, which then allowed [Nick’s] car to talk to [his] key, which happened to be sitting about 50 feet away, on the kitchen counter. And just like that, open sesame.

Mr. Danev said that until the car manufacturers correct this “bug,” the best way to protect yourself is to literally put your keys in the freezer. This acts as a Faraday Cage, and won’t allow a signal to get in or out.

If you’ve never heard of a Faraday Cage before, Dr. Arthur Bradley, author of Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms, explains it as this:

A faraday cage (a.k.a. Faraday shield) is a sealed enclosure that has an electrically conductive outer layer. It can be in the shape of a box, cylinder, sphere, or any other closed shape. The enclosure itself can be conductive, or it can be made of a non-conductive material (such as cardboard or wood) and then wrapped in a conductive material (such as heavy duty aluminum foil).

Learn how to build a Faraday Cage yourself here.

So when someone says, “I left my keys in the fridge,” don’t think they are losing their mind. They might just know something you don’t.


Photo of Amber Whitman

 

About the Author: Amber Whitman is the marketing consultant for the Reno Agency.

 


 

 

Severe Weather Preparedness

 

Severe weather can happen at any time and it usually doesn’t check  with you first to make sure its coming at a convenient time. Therefore, it is beneficial to remind you of how important it is to have an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes.

If you have never thought about creating an emergency plan, a great place to start is www.ready.gov. This website will help you create a plan, and build and maintain a kit to prepare yourself for your greatest disaster risks.

Otherwise, I recently discovered an excellent blog, A Bowl Full of Lemons. The blog’s author, Toni Hammersly, wrote a blog series on Emergency Preparedness that goes step by step on how to prepare for an emergency and what to include in your emergency kit.

One item Toni says to include in your emergency kit is an Emergency Preparedness Binder. This binder will include photocopies, or better yet the originals, of all your important information. Possible documents to include are:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Drivers License
  • Social Security Card
  • DD 214 (Military Record)
  • Advanced Medical Directive
  • Power of Attorney
  • Baptism Records
  • Life Insurance Policy
  • Home Insurance Policy
  • Insurance Cards
  • Will or Trust
  • Deeds and Titles
  • Credit Cards (both sides)

 

TIP: If you use photocopies, specify where original documents came from (Example: Marriage Certificate came from Allegan County Courthouse).

Also, save a copy of all  documents included in the binder on a zip drive or saved 'in the cloud', such as with Dropbox.com.  Store your emergency binder in a water and fire proof safe that can be bolted down to the floor, such as this safe.

 

Other important information to include in your Emergency Preparedness Binder include:

  • Information about your family’s health records (especially those with special needs)
  • A family emergency plan
  • Insurance policies and phone numbers
  • Emergency phone numbers (Fire department, Gas, Electric Company, Police, Poison Control, etc)
  • Family phone numbers (closest relatives, neighbors, baby sitters, etc).

 

Toni encourages readers to start setting aside cash for your emergency fund. A smart plan is to save $2 per family member, per paycheck. Combine bills and coins, because in the event of a major disaster, electricity will most likely be out and credit cards wont work.

 

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with everything that should go into your emergency binder, check out Toni’s blog, www.abowlfulloflemons.net. I encourage you to read through the eight week blog series about Emergency Preparedness and start creating your emergency plan. To help you get started, she sells an E-Book ($10) including the entire 8 week blog series, and Emergency Binder printables.

 

The E-Book includes:

  • Checklist for setting up your storage area
  • Food & Water Storage Guide
  • 72 Hour Kit Checklist
  • First Aid Kit Inventory
  • First Aid Kit Printable
  • Important Documents & Cash Stash Checklist
  • “Grab” in case of emergency list
  • List of personal documents to place in Emergency Binder
  • Family Emergency Plan Printable
  • Insurance Policies Printable
  • Family Health Information Printable
  • Emergency Numbers Printable
  • Important Numbers Printable
  • Supplies Tips
  • EmergencySupplies Checklist
  • Faraday Cage Directions
  • Hygiene & Pet Kit Sheet
  • Hygiene List
  • Pet Kit Checklist
  • Comfort Kit Checklist
  • Fun Kit Checklist
  • and more!

 

Don’t forget to include a copy of your home inventory list! This can be written or via photos or video.

Fairdale, IL Tornado

View this aftermath photo from a tornado that struck the town of Fairview, IL on April 9, 2015. Put yourself in that situation. Think about how difficult it would be to sift through the debris to locate all of your important documents and to communicate to your insurance agent all that you own for your claim settlement. Hmmm…make your life easier in preparation for any loss and complete a home inventory.

 

*NOTE: Reno Agency is in no way affiliated with A Bowl Full of Lemons nor do we receive any compensation for sales of their E-Book. We just feel they are a great resource to share with our readers.


 Photo of Amber Whitman

About the Author: Amber Whitman is the marketing consultant for the Reno Agency.


 

Don’t Fall Victim to Theft This Holiday Season

 

This past Monday, December 8th, I became the victim of theft. My local mail carrier delivered a package on my front porch, but I never saw it. Between the time of delivery, to the time my husband arrived home from work, the package had been stolen. Someone was either following the mail truck, or driving around the neighborhood, and snatching up unclaimed packages in broad daylight.

Have you heard about this happening on the news? The news broadcast mentions thieves following delivery tucks and taking the packages left at empty homes. If you think this isn’t happening in your area, it happened to me in the safe community of Dorr, Michigan.

7News Boston WHDH-TV

 

 

Here are some tips on how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.

  1. Look at the tracking information for your packages so you know what day to expect them.
  2. If you are not going to be home on the expected delivery day, ask a close friend or neighbor to stop by the house and pick it up for you.
  3. Both UPS and FedEx offer free memberships that allow you to receive email or text messages alerting you to tracking activity, reschedule a package delivery date, or reroute the package to a different address. For UPS, visit UPS My Choice®. For FedEx, visit FedEx® Tracking.
  4. Contact the delivery company (UPS, FedEx, etc) and ask to require a signature to accept the package. That way, if you aren’t home, they will take the package back to a local facility where you can pick it up at your convenience.
    • Beware of scams that involve delivery attempt notifications posted on your doors! If there is a note listed with a number to call to verify your identity in order to pick up your package, DON’T CALL! Companies such as UPS and FedEx will not ask for your personal information in order to verify your identity. The same goes for email confirmations.
  5. You can request your local post office to hold your packages at the post office if you are not home at the time of delivery. Write a note indicating your request and place it in your mailbox for your mail carrier to keep on file.
  6. If you know that you are frequently away from your home, have packages delivered to your work or an alternate address where you can pick them up at your convenience.

 

For more safety tips involving safeguarding your home, vehicle, business, and online purchases from theft, read the Property Casualty 360 article, “Tis the season…to be robbed: The 5 most common types of holiday theft.


 

Photo of Amber Whitman

 

About the Author: Amber Whitman is the marketing consultant for the Reno Agency.