Consumer Real Estate News


    • Steer Clear of Devious Scams Increasing in COVID-19 Climate

      2 June 2020

      Does it seem like your phone is ringing more often these days? By some estimates, Americans received 30 percent fewer unsolicited or robocalls in April than they did in March, and 40 percent fewer than in February - primarily because as the novel coronavirus swept across the globe, most call centers abroad were shuttered to comply with social distancing restrictions.

      But now, as restrictions are more broadly lifted worldwide, those call centers are ramping up again, and so are the number of unwanted calls.

      Worse, according to the Federal Trade Commission, with so many people working from home right now, and/or filing claims, awaiting checks or negotiating with financial institutions, we have become more attractive targets than ever for scammers, swindlers, and “phishers.”

      Before you answer your next phone call from a stranger, beware of these common tactics used by scammers to steal your ID and/or money.

      • Impersonation. A caller identifies himself as a representative of your bank, credit card company, even the FBI or police, and asks for your credit card number, your Social Security number or other identification in order to resolve an unauthorized charge or alleged crime. Your best response is to hang up, call the institution yourself and ask if they are trying to reach you.
      • Intimidation. A caller tells you a family member needs bail money, an IRS audit requires immediate payment, or you are about to be arrested for non-payment. Hang up and stay calm. The IRS does not call for payment, you know you have done nothing to warrant arrest, and you can check on the family member named to reassure yourself nothing is amiss.
      • Promised riches. A swindler says you won a sweepstakes but need to pay the entry fee, you are eligible for a no-risk investment, or you have been chosen to purchase something valuable at a huge discount. Phone pitches that ask for cash, credit card information or a small favor in return for riches are almost always scams.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Practical Tips for Caregivers Facing a Pandemic

      2 June 2020

      (Family Features) Whether your role as a caregiver has you looking out for an elderly relative, children or both, chances are good that you’ve worried about how the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to affect your ability to provide necessary care.

       

      Following the most up to date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first step for caregivers who are looking after loved ones. As caregivers continue to adjust during the pandemic, keep these considerations in mind:

       

      Contact health care providers to obtain extra necessary medications and stock up on over-the-counter drugs.

      Monitor needed medical supplies related to a loved one’s condition or treatments (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care, etc.) and common supplies such as tissues and cough syrup.

      Those with a loved one in a long-term care facility should inquire about any positive COVID-19 cases in the facility, testing procedures for the residents and staff members and be aware of the facility’s protocol if there is an outbreak or positive tests among residents and staff.

      These additional tips can help caregivers reduce the pandemic’s impact:

      Make backup plans. Most caregivers have plans in place for temporary assistance when things go awry, but COVID-19 is putting many of those short-term solutions to the test. It’s a good time to pull in additional resources so you have extra help waiting if someone you’re counting on falls ill or can’t fill in as planned. A meal delivery service may be a good option if grocery shopping and meal preparation continue to be affected.

      Reduce exposure. Those who take care of loved ones in their homes or are regular care providers to family members and friends have concerns about exposing this vulnerable group to the virus. Many long-term care facilities have changed their visitation policies. You might be able to visit a loved one through a window, via a balcony or through video chat. It’s also important to minimize time spent out in the community where you could unknowingly contract the virus and pass it to a vulnerable loved one.

      Shop smart. Because supermarkets and stores with goods identified as “essential” are still bustling with people, it’s important to minimize extra trips and wear a mask when in public. If possible, drop groceries and essentials at the door or arrange for delivery. In addition, some major pharmacies, where AARP members get special benefits on health, wellness and beauty purchases, have introduced special shopping hours for seniors and drive-thru shopping options to minimize person-to-person contact.

      Reschedule wellness appointments. Not only are doctor’s offices short on resources, a waiting room can be filled with germs that may cause illness. Try to arrange for telephone or video-based appointments when possible and cancel any appointments that aren’t urgently necessary.

      Keep germs away. Thorough handwashing with soap and water is critical. In addition to washing hands after eating and using the restroom, anyone entering and leaving the house should wash his or her hands. Also wipe down high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, remotes and phone keypads.

      Combat boredom. Despite the good intentions of staying away, social isolation can be a real concern for seniors. Practicing social distancing is important for their health, but you can help keep them engaged by increasing phone, video and online interaction, and encouraging family and friends to do the same. If your loved one doesn’t already have a cell phone, contract-free plans are available with free activation and special rates for senior users. Many long-term care facilities also offer social distancing activities for residents.

      Find more resources for caregivers at aarp.org/save.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Why Your Home Needs a Smart Faucet

      2 June 2020

      These days, homeowners are embracing the future and fitting their abodes with an array of smart home technology, including smart faucets. And there are more benefits to a high-tech, hands-free faucet than you might think.

      Following are just a few of the reasons to upgrade your home with smart faucets.

      Hands-Free Control
      The motion-activated faucet has been around for a while, and those who have one can agree that it’s a lifesaver when your hands are covered in grease but you don’t want to get the sink dirty in order to wash them. These days, smart sinks can sync up with your smart home assistant, so you can use voice commands to turn it on, off, and even heat up the water when your hands are full.

      Precise Dispensing
      When the recipe calls for two cups of water, you can forget about pulling out the measuring cup. All you have to do is say the amount you need and it’s as easy as that. You can also give custom commands to make your daily routine easier, such as filling the kettle or coffee pot, meaning that your sink becomes your own virtual assistant in the kitchen.

      Monitor Usage
      There’s the added bonus of being able to see exactly how much water you’re using. Some smart faucets, like the Kohler Sensate, utilize a sensor on the valve to monitor usage and leaks, which is then displayed on an app. If any unusual usage is detected, you’ll receive an alert on your smartphone.

      No Fingerprints and Smudges
      Hands-free control, whether you’re using voice commands or motion sensors, means your kitchen sink stays cleaner. For those who can’t stand a dirty kitchen, those fingerprints and smudges on the faucet can be a real pet peeve. With a smart faucet, you can rest assured your sink will never lose its luster regardless of how much use it sees.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Reaching Out to Help From Your Kitchen Table

      1 June 2020

      Many Americans are still sheltering in place in the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Teens and less-at-risk adults are donning masks and gloves, helping out at food banks, grocery shopping for shut-in seniors and even walking their dogs. Families ordering meal deliveries are double-tipping the drivers—and those who can afford it are writing checks to nonprofits in response to the coronavirus crisis.

      Consumers wishing to help financially can check with the National Council of Nonprofits for a list of organizations that need funds now as they struggle to meet the needs of others, or simply donate what you can afford to a local food bank or a chapter of the Boys & Girls Club or American Red Cross.    

      Beyond donating funds, there are many ways to help whether or not you are sheltering at home:
      Check in on neighbors, especially the elderly. Phone once or twice a week and, if you have a stock of groceries on hand, share the wealth if they need something.

      Provide a meal. Have pizzas or deli sandwiches, or doughnuts delivered to a police station,fire station or hospital. The donation helps out local food vendors as well as to frontline responders.

      Give blood. The need for blood is constant, and fewer blood donations are being made during this crisis. If you are healthy, and can safely get to a blood donation center, it could be a life-saving gesture.

      Join or start a community network. Call your local city hall or Chamber of Commerce to see if a local network exists; a database where individuals and organizations can post notices of what they need—diapers, cash, food, etc. —and others can help fill those needs. If no such group exists in your area, and you have spreadsheet and/or Internet skills, work with local service organizations to start one.

      Be a virtual volunteer. Whatever your age or background, you can use your skills and experience to help others. Go to VolunteerMatch.com, a long-standing and trusted online volunteer organization that works to match your skills and talents with local needs.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Dad-Approved Gifts for Father’s Day

      1 June 2020

      (Family Features) An entire day dedicated to dear ol’ dad may not be enough to show the depths of your appreciation, but a hug, a heartfelt thanks and some quality time (even from afar) are great places to start.

      When it comes to giving gifts for Father’s Day, practical and purposeful gifts are high on most dads’ lists. Think about his favorite things to eat and the ways he spends his coveted down time. A gift that celebrates the things that matter most to him is sure to earn dad’s gratitude.

      Find more ideas to make it a Father’s Day to remember at eLivingtoday.com.

      Special Steaks to Celebrate Dad
      Father’s Day gifting can be pretty simple: Many dads want a delicious steak. Give him a collection of tender cuts with the Filet for Father’s Day package from Omaha Steaks, which includes four 7-ounce Butcher’s Cut Filet Mignons, eight 6-ounce brisket burgers, four 3-ounce gourmet jumbo franks, four 2.88-ounce potatoes au gratin, four 4-ounce individual New York cheesecakes and a 3.1-ounce jar of signature seasoning. Find more meal ideas for dad at omahasteaks.com.

      A Sharp Gift for Dad
      A knife is only as good as the sharpness of its blade. This Father’s Day, get dad a helpful tool to keep his knives wicked sharp. Made from high-quality materials, the Wicked Edge GO knife sharpener is easy to use for both new and veteran knife sharpeners and can accommodate a wide variety of knives. With guided angle control, dad can get professional-level results every time. Learn more at wickededgeusa.com.

      Gear to Go Fishing
      Even the most avid fishermen can typically use more gear. From replenishing the tackle box with fresh supplies to a new rod he can use to reel in a real catch, gift dad with items that let him hang out a “gone fishing” sign and enjoy some time on the water. If he’s an extra-avid sportsman, be sure to also check out the wide variety of tech-enabled locators that give him a little nudge to boost his chances for a successful day.

      A Ladder for Dad’s Jobs
      As a 3-in-1 ladder that easily converts to stepladder, extension and leaning configurations, the Little Giant King Kombo gives you the perfect tool for nearly any job. A rotating wall pad lets you safely lean your ladder on inside and outside corners, walls and 2-by-4-inch studs. Made from lightweight, non-conductive fiberglass, you can safely work around electricity, and the IAA 375-pound weight rating makes the ladder sturdy enough for the job. Find more information at amazon.com.

      Supplies He’ll Auto-matically Enjoy
      If tinkering in the garage is dad’s favorite pastime, give him an excuse to spend even more time with a project that proves he’s passing the hours productively. A collection of car detailing supplies lets him buff and shine his ride to perfection. Be sure to include products that let him spruce things up inside and out, and throw in an extra touch like a personalized travel mug that will keep on giving well after Father’s Day has passed.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.