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Posts in Category: Home Tip of the Month

Category: Home Tip of the Month

February Home Tips

Hello, Everyone,

The batteries in Hoverboards can be dangerous. Some of the companies making the batteries are incompetent, and the batteries are catching on fire or exploding. A house in Nashville burned to the ground; fortunately the father arrived home in time to catch his 2 children as they jumped from the upper windows. Hoverboards are not permitted on US flights or on the T.

The following information on identity theft is compliments of Janney, Montgomery, Scott:

    Two types of identity theft

  • Account takeover is what happens when a thief gets your existing credit or debit cards (or even just the account numbers and expiration dates) and goes on a shopping spree at your expense
  • Application fraud is what happens when a thief gets your Social Security number and uses it (along with other personal information about you) to obtain new credit in your name

Protect Yourself against Identity Theft

Whether they’re snatching your purse, diving into your dumpster, stealing your mail, or hacking into your computer, they’re out to get you. Who are they? Identity thieves.

Identity thieves can empty your bank account, max out your credit cards, open new accounts in your name, and purchase furniture, cars, and even homes on the basis of your credit history. If they give your personal information to the police during an arrest and then don’t show up for a court date, you may be subsequently arrested and jailed.

And what will you get for their efforts? You’ll get the headache and expense of cleaning up the mess they leave behind.

You may never be able to completely prevent your identity from being stolen, but here are some steps you can take to help protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Check yourself out

It’s important to review your credit report periodically. Check to make sure that all the information contained in it is correct, and be on the lookout for any fraudulent activity.

You may get your credit report for free once a year. To do so, contact the Annual Credit Report Request Service online at annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228.

If you need to correct any information or dispute any entries, contact the three national credit reporting agencies:

  1. Equifax (800) 685-1111
  2. Experian (888) 397-3742
  3. TransUnion (800) 916-8800

Secure your number

Your most important personal identifier is your Social Security number (SSN). Guard it carefully. Never carry your Social Security card with you unless you’ll need it. The same goes for other forms of identification (for example, health insurance cards) that display your SSN. If your state uses your SSN as your driver’s license number, request an alternate number.

Don’t have your SSN preprinted on your checks, and don’t let merchants write it on your checks. Don’t give it out over the phone unless you initiate the call to an organization you trust. Ask the three major credit reporting agencies to truncate it on your credit reports. Try to avoid listing it on employment applications; offer instead to provide it during a job interview.

Don’t leave home with it

Most of us carry our checkbooks and all of our credit cards, debit cards, and telephone cards with us all the time. That’s a bad idea; if your wallet or purse is stolen, the thief will have a treasure chest of new toys to play with.

Carry only the cards and/or checks you’ll need for any one trip. And keep a written record of all your account numbers, credit card expiration dates, and the telephone numbers of the customer service and fraud departments in a secure place—at home.

Keep your receipts

When you make a purchase with a credit or debit card, you’re given a receipt. Don’t throw it away or leave it behind; it may contain your credit or debit card number. And don’t leave it in the shopping bag inside your car while you continue shopping; if your car is broken into and the item you bought is stolen, your identity may be as well.

Save your receipts until you can check them against your monthly credit card and bank statements, and watch your statements for purchases you didn’t make.

When you toss it, shred it

Before you throw out any financial records such as credit or debit card receipts and statements, cancelled checks, or even offers for credit you receive in the mail, shred the documents, preferably with a cross-cut shredder. If you don’t, you may find the panhandler going through your dumpster was looking for more than discarded leftovers.

Keep a low profile

The more your personal information is available to others, the more likely you are to be victimized by identity theft. While you don’t need to become a hermit in a cave, there are steps you can take to help minimize your exposure:

  • To stop telephone calls from national telemarketers, list your telephone number with the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry by calling (888) 382-1222 or registering online at donotcall.gov
  • To remove your name from most national mailing and e-mailing lists, as well as most telemarketing lists register online with the Direct Marketing Association at dmachoice.org
  • To remove your name from marketing lists prepared by the three national consumer reporting agencies, call (888) 567-8688 or register online at optoutprescreen.com
  • When given the opportunity to do so by your bank, investment firm, insurance company, and credit card companies, opt out of allowing them to share your financial information with other organizations
  • You may even want to consider having your name and address removed from the telephone book and reverse directories

Take a byte out of crime

Whatever else you may want your computer to do, you don’t want it to inadvertently reveal your personal information to others. Take steps to help assure that this won’t happen.

Install a firewall to prevent hackers from obtaining information from your hard drive or hijacking your computer to use it for committing other crimes. This is especially important if you use a high-speed connection that leaves you continuously connected to the Internet. Moreover, install virus protection software and update it on a regular basis.

Try to avoid storing personal and financial information on a laptop; if it’s stolen, the thief may obtain more than your computer. If you must store such information on your laptop, make things as difficult as possible for a thief by protecting these files with a strong password—one that’s six to eight characters long, and that contains letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols.

“If a stranger calls, don’t answer.” Opening e-mails from people you don’t know, especially if you download attached files or click on hyperlinks within the message, can expose you to viruses, infect your computer with “spyware” that captures information by recording your keystrokes, or lead you to “spoofs” (websites that replicate legitimate business sites) designed to trick you into revealing personal information that can be used to steal your identity.

If you wish to visit a business’s legitimate website, use your stored bookmark or type the URL address directly into the browser. If you provide personal or financial information about yourself over the Internet, do so only at secure websites; to determine if a site is secure, look for a URL that begins with “https” (instead of “http”) or a lock icon on the browser’s status bar.

And when it comes time to upgrade to a new computer, remove all your personal information from the old one before you dispose of it. Using the “delete” function isn’t sufficient to do the job; overwrite the hard drive by using a “wipe” utility program. The minimal cost of investing in this software may save you from being wiped out later by an identity thief.

Be diligent

As the grizzled duty sergeant used to say on a televised police drama, “Be careful out there.” The identity you save may be your own.

Enjoy the balmy winter! If you hear of anyone thinking of buying or selling-particularly selling-please think of me!

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

January Home Tips

Hello, Everyone,

Now that winter is here and we should expect more snow, I’d like to remind you of the app called Plowz&Mowz. Depending on your community, the high schools sometimes have organized snow-shoveling brigades and some cities and towns provide snow removal for homeowners beyond a certain age.

The fund-raising organization, Wounded Warriors, has received bad press recently. It’s easy to google charities to check on the percentage a charity really donates to its cause. Homes for Our Troops is based in Taunton, MA, and the last time I checked, only 10% was used for admin compared to 40% by Wounded Warriors. Homes for Our Troops renovates and provides homes for maimed veterans.

Wondering what to do with your stack of paperback books? Please consider donating them to operationpaperback.org, which sends “gently-used” books to our troops.

Enjoy the weekend and please remember me when your friends, family or colleagues are thinking of buying or selling. I am grateful for your referrals.

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

November Home Tips

Hello, Everyone!

The link to the site doesn’t work, but if you have a “keyless” car, do google the NYT article, “Yes, I Meant to Freeze the Keys.” Keyless cars can be broken into/stolen by thieves using amplifiers. Presumably, David Beckham had his $100K BMW stolen this way. Readers’ comments with the article provide some interesting safety measures.

A small bowl of white vinegar set on a kitchen counter is often sufficient to absorb cooking odors and is minus the noxious ingredients of alternative sprays.

A little scrubbing with a small amount of baking powder and water cleans the ceramic top of a stove beautifully.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Please think of me when you hear of family, friends, colleagues who are planning to buy or sell.

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

August Home Tips

Hello, Everyone!

Here in Cambridge, we’re sweltering under the hot sun. The Washington Post published an article by Michael Holich, M.D., a dermatologist at the BU Medical Ctr, which appears to be a very measured approach to sun exposure/the need for Vitamin D. Here is the link for “Go Ahead, Soak Up Some Sun.

The last thing on your mind in July is your heating unit, but in preparation for the late fall and because it will be easier to get a service person now…if you have a vented burner, to ensure your safety, be sure it has a spill switch or have one installed. If the unit malfunctions or snow, etc., blocks the exterior vent, the unit will shut off, preventing the escape of carbon monoxide into your house.

And again…if you see English Ivy on your trees or on your neighbors’ trees, pls have it removed/let them know before it chokes and kills the trees. Some of the vines are so thick that a saw or sharp knife will be needed to sever them. The ivy is really bad and it is attacking/has killed so many trees in Cambridge, Belmont and Somerville.

Have a good August!

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

July Home Tips

Hello, Everyone,

Three items (among a number of others) you shouldn’t keep in a garage:

Refrigerator—when the garage is cold, the compressor won’t run long enough to cool the freezer properly and when it’s hot, money and energy are wasted;

Gasoline or Oil—vapors are flammable.

Paint—wide temperature swings can damage paint.

So many properties I see lack sufficient smoke detectors or have them in the wrong place or are missing carbon monoxide detectors. If you are unsure of today’s code, pls call or email me for details. The information is on the web but not always as easily interpreted as one would hope.

Happy Summer!

Very best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

June Home Tips

Hello, Everyone,

Except for a few odd days, I think it is safe to assume that summer is here…

Consumer Reports gives Sawyer Fisherman’s Formula Picaridin ($8.25) insect repellent a rating of 96, considerably higher than the Repel brands just below it, which are rated 87 and 82 and cost a bit less. Interestingly, the California Baby Natural Bug Blend at $15.50, which has the highest price on the list, is rated only 22.

Pls remember that if you see English Ivy on your trees or on the trees of anyone you know, it kills trees by strangling and dehydrating them. English Ivy is pernicious and is not a native plant.

For those of you without central air conditioning, Consumer Reports rates these window ac’s best:

100-300 square feet—GE AEMO5LS @$210;

250-400 square feet—GE AEMO8LT @$300;

350-650 square feet—LG LW1214ER @$350; Friedrich Chill CP10G10A @$400; GE AER10AT @$250.

Enjoy your weekend!

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

May Home Tips

The simplest way to slice a bunch of cherry tomatoes is to sandwich them between two plastic lids and run a long knife through all of them at once!

Keep brown sugar soft by storing with a couple of marshmallows.

Install a regular coat rack low down the wall to store shoes safely off the floor.

Create a thrifty watering can by puncturing holes in the top of a used milk bottle.

Remove pet hair from furniture and carpets with a squeegee.

Flip a toaster on its side to make grilled cheese.

Water straight from the tap becomes cloudy when frozen. To make ice cubes crystal clear, allow a kettle of boiled water to cool slightly and use this to fill your ice cube trays.

Use a large muffin tin to cook stuffed peppers in the oven—it will help keep them upright.

To prevent potatoes budding, add an apple in the bag.

Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when hard-boiling eggs to make the shells incredibly easy to peel off.

WD-40 can be used to remove crayon marks from any surface!

To tell if eggs are fresh, immerse them in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs will lie on the bottom, while stale eggs will float to the surface.

To clean a wooden chopping board, sprinkle on a handful of Kosher salt and rub with half a lemon. Rinse with clean water and dry to ensure it is clean and germ-free.

Use ice-cubes to lift out indentations made by furniture on your carpets.

Prevent soil from escaping through the holes in the base of flowerpots by lining with large coffee filters.

To sharpen scissors, simply cut through sandpaper.

Use rubber bands to help open a jar easily: place one around the jar lid and another around the middle of the glass. The rubber provides friction to prevent your hands from slipping.

To prevent your eyes watering while chopping onions, wipe the chopping board with white vinegar (which won’t affect the taste of the onions).

Store bed sheets inside their pillowcases for easy storage and access.

Drop a couple of denture cleaning tablets into the toilet bowl at night to clean off stubborn stains.

Use cupcake cases to cover drinks glasses in the summer and prevent flies from dropping in.

Use egg boxes to store delicate Christmas tree decorations.

This has to be the simplest way to open those annoying blister packs!

Use a cut potato to easily remove a broken light bulb.

Use chalk to remove grease stains from clothes. Simply rub white chalk on the affected area and wash as normal—the chalk will absorb the grease and be washed away in the cycle.

Frozen grapes are great even without the wine.

Use a rubber band to rescue a stripped screw.

Wrap rubber bands around the ends of a coat hanger to prevent dresses from slipping off.

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

April Home Tips

If you’re considering the purchase of an extended warranty, do confirm that the extension begins after the end of the initial warranty. Consumer Reports discovered that most extended warranties overlap with the original.

Gentle Giant is offering “Free and Clear Storage” in the Boston area to help Sellers declutter their houses in preparation for selling. Gentle Giant will provide 2 storage vaults free for 3 months. And if any of your items need restoration, their “Store and Restore” policy will give you $150 off any project costing $450 or more.

This week is Boston Design Week and Jodi and Alex Robbins will be hosting an event at their lovely furniture store at 357 Huron Ave, in Huron Village in Cambridge. The topic for the evening, with answers to any of your questions, will be “De-mystifying Custom and Made-to-Order Furniture and Cabinetry.” Snacks and drinks will be served; 6-8 pm, on Thursday, March 26th. If you haven’t visited their store yet, it’s a must!

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

March Home Tips

Hello, Everyone!

If you’re considering the purchase of an extended warranty, do confirm that the extension begins after the end of the initial warranty. Consumer Reports discovered that most extended warranties overlap with the original.

Gentle Giant is offering “Free and Clear Storage” in the Boston area to help Sellers declutter their houses in preparation for selling. Gentle Giant will provide 2 storage vaults free for 3 months. And if any of your items need restoration, their “Store and Restore” policy will give you $150 off any project costing $450 or more.

This week is Boston Design Week and Jodi and Alex Robbins will be hosting an event at their lovely furniture store at 357 Huron Ave, in Huron Village in Cambridge. The topic for the evening, with answers to any of your questions, will be “De-mystifying Custom and Made-to-Order Furniture and Cabinetry.” Snacks and drinks will be served; 6-8 pm, on Thursday, March 26th. If you haven’t visited their store yet, it’s a must!

Best,
Bonny

Category: Home Tip of the Month

February Home Tips

Hello, Everyone,

In this season of snow and more snow, the following seemed in order…

According to Consumer Reports, the best rated snow blowers are Cub Cadet 31AH57S @ $1,500 and Troy-Bilt Vortex 2890 31AH55Q @ $1,300. The Cub Cadet 930SWE 31AH95SU @ $1,600 is close-behind second, but considerably more expensive.

The top-rated Lithium AA battery is the Energizer Ultimate @ $2.50 (scored 96); the top-rated Alkaline AA is the Duracell Quantum @ $1.00 (scored 91). However, the Kirkland Signature from Costco receives a score of 84 but costs only 27 cents, so is considered the “CR best buy.”

In the past week I have received several emails from clients, asking for names of people to remove snow and take care of ice dams. Most contractors seem to be busy 2 weeks in advance. J. Murray & Sons is very good about sending real estate agents emails about its snow removal/ice dam services, adding that it has 30 people on its staff; but I never have used them nor do I know anyone who has. With the hope that their service is both timely and good, here is their contact information for you to connect with them, if you like, to assess their qualifications: call 781-414-0605 or john@jmurrayandsons.com.

Very best,
Bonny