The purpose of the Sideco Blog is to provide you with practical information that can help you save money by making well informed decisions in regard to maintaining and improving what is probably your largest investment. We will be adding new topics on a regular basis and archiving each article so you can come back to them at any time. These are not intended to be detailed 'how to' instructions for the do it yourselfer, but rather answers to the questions that the responsible and conscientious homeowner faces every day, month and year.
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It's a scary world we live in now. It seems that there are dangers every where we turn, even in our own homes at our own computers. It seems there are stories weekly about major hacks that reveal millions of people's personal information. As with all aspects of life, there can be no guarantee of safety and privacy, however, according to Mitchell Davis of Computer Help, there are a few simple steps one can take to help protect themselves. We'd like to share what we've learned with you.
Don't leave your brain at the front door. You don't have to know anything about computers or the internet to use a little common sense. If something sounds too good to be true, it is. This is just as true on the internet as it is in the rest of our lives. If someone is offering you something of value for very little, it's your clue to run, not walk, away.
Your bank or credit card company will never, ever, never, ever send you an email wanting to verify your login in and/or password. If you get such an email, call them. A common ploy is to simple advise you that, for security reasons, you need to log in to your account to validate it and then provides a link in the email to access the bank's website. The email will look official, with logos and correct fonts, the website will look just like the bank's. That is very easy to duplicate. When you click on the link, you will be taken to a official web page with an entry form for your user name and password. If you enter your information, nothing will happen; you've just given the crooks access to your bank.
If you want to go to you're bank's website, type the address in your browser yourself, don't click on a link.
There are all kinds of little apps and programs to do lots of fun or useful things. Many of them are free (that should always be a warning sign). No one is going to endure the cost and labor to produce a quality program because they want to serve mankind. Always ask yourself, "where are they making their money?" If you can't figure out that answer, walk away. Wendy's, Kroger and many companies have produced some useful applications, but they're motivation is obvious.
There are many apps, for example, that promise you huge savings by presenting you with the latest coupons. There will actually be some coupons, but they're making money by selling your information to advertisers and spam generators and by following all of your movements on the internet.
If you are in need of a new roof for your home, would you look to the roofer that's had a presence in your community for 30 years or go talk to the guy in the pickup in the mall parking lot with a cardboard sign? Who you do business with does matter. Paying an extra dollar or two to deal with a company you're familiar with is usually a real bargain. It's easy to do a search for a business online. If nothing can be found, walk away.
It doesn't matter how great their website looks, crooks can afford it. After they scam people for a few weeks, they simply change the name and start again. The site might look like a million bucks, but a single scammer can operate hundreds of 'companies' from a single computer in a garage.
Take a few minutes and sign up for a free email account at Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail or Microsoft. Use that for your online browsing. If you make a mistake and sign up for something and begin getting lots of spam, you can always cancel it and open another. It keeps your personal email account personal.
Finally, get a good anti virus program and keep it updated. I cannot stress this enough. Microsoft provide Security Essentials free of charge. There are many other good programs available for a nominal fee. I also recommend using an anti malware program which will detect items that infect your computer but aren't technically a virus. I think the very best of these is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. It's affordable and it's kept me safe.
The biggest thing you can do to protect yourself is to stop and think for just a second before you do anything online. If you get an email offering something, ask yourself, "would I go meet them for coffee?" If the answer is no, then by all means don't give them your address and credit card number.
On rare occassion a client feels the need to communicate with us about their active job. We spend most of our time actively participating at each of our sites. If you need us, we plan to be available so just give us a call.
We are very aware of the importance of energy savings for many reasons. Our products are designed to give you the very best energy ratings. We will also be happy to evaluate your home to help you make it more efficient.
We are honored that you trust us with your home and your personal information. We will never betray that trust. Your personal information, such as name, address, phone number and email address will never be shared or sold to anyone for any reason except to complete the tasks you have requested. For example, if your job requires an electrician, we will provide them with your contact information so they can arrange services. You can request information from us and feel secure that we will contact you to provide the information you requested, including home evaluations, and follow up in an appropriate manner to insure your need have been met, however, you will not be subject to constant contacts from our sales department (we don't have one).
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