Hackers Are After Your Down Payment. How NOT to Get Scammed

Aug 16, 2017 by

Hackers Are After Your Down Payment. How NOT to Get Scammed

by: Anne Arntson

You finally found it: the two-story bungalow in the trendy part of town you’ve been eyeing for years – the one with the best coffee shop (hello, foamy latte) and favorite farmer’s market. You made your best offer (they accepted!) and now you’re about to close on your dream home.

Then just before closing, an email from your real estate agent pops up, claiming a last-minute change to the money-wiring instructions. You wire the funds. But the money never makes it to the bank. Turns out that email wasn’t from your agent – but a hacker. You got spoofed.

Unfortunately these days, enterprising hackers are busy tricking homeowners into sending them their hard-won down payment.

How? They access email accounts by snagging passwords through public Wi-Fi and via email solicitations that appear to be from senders you know.

The bad guys comb through the email accounts, searching for any information about home sales and upcoming closings. Once they’ve found what they need, they send consumers an email posing as their real estate pro, attorney, or escrow officer. The email includes wiring instructions linked to a fraudulent account.

Here’s how to prevent a hacker from running away with your home before you even have a chance to buy it:

#1 Never Send Personal Info Over Email

Personal info includes a bank account number and a Social Security number. Your agent shouldn’t be sending this stuff by email either.

#2 Pick Up the Phone

If you ever receive wiring instructions by email, call your agent or lender to confirm one of them sent it. Call the phone number you have on record for your agent, not the one listed in the suspect email.

#3 Discuss the Wiring Process With Your Agent

Early on in your relationship with your agent, ask about what you should expect, when, and from whom.

#4 Change Your Passwords Often

Create a reminder on your phone or computer to update passwords monthly. Make them strong, something even your friends and family members wouldn’t be able to guess right away – you know, something other than password1 or your dog’s name.

#5 Set Up Two-Factor Verification

Two-factor verification, which requires both a password and a code that’s sent to your phone or other device in order to log in, is more challenging to hackers than a single layer login. Make sure you set it up on your email and bank accounts.

#6 Read Up

Get even more email security best practices.

Got spoofed? If you ever receive a suspicious email, report it to the FTC by forwarding it to spam@uce.gov.

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DIY Project: Custom Color Chalkboards for Home

Aug 29, 2013 by

DIY CUSTOM COLOR CHALKBOARD WALL

Looking to make a chalkboard wall or erasable calendar? Chalkboards for home are popular, but costly.

Skip the expensive and boring chalkboard paint at your local hardware store and mix up a batch of your own with these easy instructions:

IMG_20130828_184837

To get started, you will need:

MATERIALS:

-unsanded or non-sanded grout

-flat house paint in any color

-painting tools: paint roller or brush, painter’s tape, paint tray

-chalk, of course!

DIRECTIONS:

1. Clean the surface you are painting, let it dry, and then CAREFULLY mark the area to be painted with painter’s tape. (Check to ensure that your painter’s tape has adhered to walls and borders smoothly to prevent leaks and runs.)

2. Mix 1 cup of paint for every 2 tablespoons of non-sanded grout. Mix thoroughly to ensure smooth application and in small batches. The mixture will be thick and a bit on the dry side.

3. Paint surface with mixture. (I used 2 coats on the pink-purple ombre wall in the pictures.)

4. Let dry 24 hours.

5. Condition wall by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk over the entire chalkboard area. Wipe with dry white cloth.

6. Enjoy your new chalkboard wall.

** When I want to clean the wall, I wet my white cloth and wipe the chalkboard. Once it dries, it’s ready for writing again.**

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3 Creative Uses for Leaves from Your Yard

Aug 23, 2012 by

Copyright: Aleksandar Cocek http://flic.kr/ps/epyurep

Copyright: Aleksandar Cocek http://flic.kr/ps/epyurep

How much fun is it to rake leaves, gather them, and sit them on the curb to be picked up? Not very.

Try something different this year and put those leaves to use with these 3 creative uses for leaves:

  1. Fertilizer– Use a mulching lawn mower to break down the leaves by mowing over them slowly. Go over big sections a couple of times. The leaves will decompose and act as a natural fertilizer.
  2. Mulch – Instead of bagging fallen leaves, rake them right into your flower beds. This natural mulch will protect perennials from freezes and will prevent weed growth.
  3. Arts & Crafts – Add fall decor to your home by putting a few different colors in a vase or stuff Halloween scarecrows with leaves from the yard. Having trouble thinking of more crafty ideas? Enlist your kids – they’ll be happy to help you do something other than rake them.

What do you do with your fallen leaves? Share some ideas and tips with us on our Facebook page HERE.

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How to: Closet Organization to Save Time

Aug 23, 2012 by

The Closet Problem

Before Closet Organization

Before Closet Organization

Let’s face it. Few of us earn gold stars at keeping our closet clean and a cluttered closet leads to frustration, lost items, and even more clutter. Utilizing easy closet organization tips can not only help us get better at keeping our closets clean, but also save ourselves some time in the process.Who doesn’t need that?

Closet Solutions

  • Group Like Items – This tip can be used whether you’re organizing a closet or a drawer. Grouping clothes according to use or type will help you save time and find items easier. For instance, clothes worn for work should be the easiest to access if you work Monday through Friday and casual clothes can be grouped into tops and bottoms. Likewise, in a drawer dress socks should be separate from casual socks.
  • Rotate According to Season – There’s no sense in having your shorts front and center when its 20 below outside. To have a better vision of what you have in your closet, put clothes that you know you won’t wear for a while away. When the summer months come, put up those cable knit sweaters and the like. It’ll free up some room for your new purchases too!
  • Give Yourself More Space – Most home improvement retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and even Target sell closet systems at an affordable price. They will help you utilize any space you have available whether it be large or small and help you optimize it for greater use. With these closet organizers, space is increased and piece of mind is achieved.

After Closet Organization

 

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3 Money Saving Fall Yard Prep Tips

Aug 23, 2012 by

Set the Tone for a Good Looking Spring with Fall Yard Prep

landscape instagram

Now that we’ve made it though an unusual summer, the leaves are changing, and the kids are back in school, it can be a bit tempting to put away lawn and garden tools and put our feet up on the weekend. Not so fast! Oftentimes, fall yard prep can lead to lush spring lawns.

There are a few steps that anyone with a little patience and a few common household items can take to get the beautiful lawn neighbors will be jealous of.

  1. Lay newspaper down as weed blocker – Traditional weed blocking fabric can become costly if you are working with a fixed budget or large areas to cover. Put that Sunday newspaper to use by laying it down a few sheets thick in planting beds and covering with about 4-6 inches of mulch. Weeds will have a hard time growing through the newspaper and it will naturally disintegrate over time. If done in the fall, you’ll have a nice, weed-free bed to plant in come spring.
  2. Use used coffee grounds in place of mulch. – Often used in composting bins, coffee grounds can be a good mulch substitute as well. Be sure to turn it into the soil to reduce the risk of mold or fungus. When you mulch around your trees, make a doughnut shape instead of a volcano shape.
  3. Recycle water and feed your grass. – Rain barrels will save you tons of cash by catching natural rainfall that you will need to water your grass year-round. Many think that watering stops after the summer months, but your lawn still needs hydration along with fertilizer that should be applied in the fall. Fertilizers will vary with the type of grass found on your lawn and the region you live in.
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How to Prevent Termites in Your Home and Save Money

Aug 23, 2012 by

Source: University of Hawai'i Termite Project

Source: University of Hawai’i Termite Project

The Termite Problem

The pros at Houses R Us were called out to do a hardwood floor replacement recently and had the job held up for over 30 days because the home had a horrible termite infestation. The owner had no idea that these silent killers had been munching along under the floor and in the walls for some time. Every year, billions of dollars are spent by poor homeowners like this in termite extermination. Don’t get caught out there like these home owners — use these tips to inspect your home and prevent termite infestation.

Termites – What are you looking for?

Source: Ohio State University Fact Sheet

Source: Ohio State University Fact Sheet

Termites come in a number of species including: subterranean, formosan, drywood, and dampwood. They thrive in an ideal environment of shelter, moisture, and an optimal temperature. Of course they need some food to eat and they can find it in many places in and outside of your home.

Inside your home, your furniture, shelves, books, carpet and insulation are at risk. Outside of your home, termites look to munch on housing foundations, dead plants, trees

, wood and wood in soil.

If you spot a winged swarm inside or outside of your house, don’t make the mistake of dismissing termites for common ants. Termites antennae are straight, their waists are wide, and their wings are similar to each other in size. Seeing these insects outside doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an infestation, but you’ll want to definitely check. Seeing these insects inside your home indicates you may have an infestation somewhere in the dwelling.

Other signs include discarded wings, hollow sounding wood, and mazes and sawdust found in wood.

How To Prevent Termite Damage

Routine checks in and around your home will help you prevent termite damage and save you a ton of money. Here are some tasks you can complete and keep in mind:

  • Fix moisture problems – Any leaks or excess water will attract a number of home owner issues, termites being one of them. Leaking faucets, clogged gutters, and AC units can all pose possible termite problems. Furthermore, redirecting water away from the foundation of your home is essential. Whenever you experience a moisture related problem, fix it immediately.
  • Keep wood away from your foundation – Firewood and wood piles should always be kept at distance from your home’s foundation. This includes the crawlspace. Your crawlspace should be well ventilated since it is already an ideal space for termites to settle.
  • Manage landscaping – Keep flower and planting beds away from the foundation of your home and mulch levels several inches lower than the siding of the home.
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