The Five Home Security Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes

Did you know that a break-in happens somewhere in the United States about every 12 to 15 seconds? Almost everyone assumes that they are immune to becoming part of this statistic, yet every year, thousands of people do. Even if you think that your home is relatively secure, could you be doing more?

Most homeowners make at least a few mistakes when it comes to home security; in fact, it's nearly impossible to live your life without opening yourself up to some common home security risks. It might surprise you how much your everyday actions are leaving you vulnerable to burglars or other criminals.

Here are the five everyday home security mistakes that almost everyone makes:

1. Being careless with junk mail. Junk mail is just "junk," right? If you think junk mail isn't worth a second thought, you're wrong. Don't leave your mail in the mailbox or throw it away without shredding it. Junk mail contains a surprising amount of personal identification. Even just one credit card application is enough for an identity thief to wreak havoc on your finances. Plus, information found in the mail could help a savvy burglar figure out when there will be no one home.

2. Answering the door without first finding out who is there. Once the door is opened just a crack, it is extraordinarily easy for someone on the other side to force their way into your home. If you don't have a peephole in your front door, install one this weekend. Video surveillance systems can be another great way to keep an eye on your front porch and find out who's knocking.

If the person ringing your doorbell is dressed as a delivery person or maintenance worker, and you're not expecting one, don't be afraid to ask for their identification. There have been stories in the news about burglars posing in these common uniforms as a disguise to gain entry into the home.

3. Being too obvious when hiding a spare key. Many people hide a spare key somewhere near the home in case they get locked out. The problem comes when the key is not hidden well, such as under the doormat or inside a hide-a-key that sticks out like a sore thumb. If you want to keep a spare key where criminals won't find it, use a realistic hide-a-key device placed in a location where it blends into the surroundings.

4. Forgetting to use locks and alarms. It isn't enough to simply have locks and security alarms on the doors. In order for them to work, you must actually use them! You might be surprised to know just how many homeowners frequently miss this critical step.

5. Being careless with their phone number. If your home phone number is listed in the phone book, anyone who looks it up can find your address, and anyone who calls will know when you're not home. With an address and phone number, a surprising amount of information can be learned about the occupant. This is particularly true when your answering machine gives out too much personal information about you, such as that you are a young woman living alone. Instead, keep your landline number private, and give out your cell phone number to anyone who needs to contact you.

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