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Defense Against the Dark Arts: Four Expert Tips and One Simple Trick to Avoid Locksmith Fraud

Avoid Getting Scammed by a Locksmith

Photo: Foothill Locksmiths, Inc (2014)

If you’re locked out of your home or car, you might assume that googling “locksmith” or pointing to a random name in the phone book will yield a positive result. However, as it turns out, choosing a locksmith at random is a risky move. According to Gary Lekan, owner of First Lock & Security Technologies, incidents of locksmith-related fraud have increased significantly in the past 10 years, thanks in part to the rise of the Internet and mobile phone use. “These people are so unscrupulous,” he says. “They advertise heavily and emphasize their speed and ridiculously low prices. Then they send out inexperienced, untrained technicians who can’t even handle basic lockouts or repairs.” These contract workers will often break and then replace the locks on their customers’ homes or cars. In the long run, consumers end up paying hefty bills and have junky locks in lieu of quality hardware. Continue reading “Defense Against the Dark Arts: Four Expert Tips and One Simple Trick to Avoid Locksmith Fraud” »

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How it Is: I Got Scammed by a Locksmith

Scammed by a locksmith
Listen.

I delete emails from down-and-out Nigerian royalty. Stranded hospital-bound strangers get nothing. And when Bernie Madoff made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I said, “No way!” Or I would have, if he had…you get the drift. Consequently, it is with great humility (and some shame) that I admit this in a public forum: I got scammed by a locksmith—or more accurately, a con artist posing as a locksmith. Here’s how it happened.

One bright fall morning, I carefully locked all the doors to my house, walked my kids to the bus stop and handed my only house key
to my son (who had forgotten his). Continue reading “How it Is: I Got Scammed by a Locksmith” »

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Savvy Consumer Tip: Saving on Car Rentals

Do you know how to get the best rates on a rental car? Watch this video for some helpful tips.

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An “Earth-Shaking” Reminder about Preventative Maintenance

Napa-Valley-earthquake-August-24-2014-tree-maintenance

For those of us who put off preventative maintenance, an extraordinary occurrence can serve as a sobering reminder. Photo: Best Tree Service (2014)

Like most people, I have a tendency to assume the minutiae of details surrounding my life will continue to function smoothly, whether or not I acknowledge them. However, once in a while, an uncommon occurrence rouses me from my usual state of complacency. A recent instance followed the Napa Valley earthquake of August 24, 2014.

As a resident of Santa Rosa, I was on the outskirts of the quake’s radius and only mildly felt its effects. The next day, however, as I walked onto my back deck, I was immediately struck with an eerie sensation. “Do we always get shade at this time of day?” I thought, as I looked up at the towering California Redwood that stood in my backyard and saw the tip of its crown eclipsing the midday sun. Had the tree moved during the earthquake? Had it sustained damage? Had its structural integrity been compromised? Mulling these questions over, I couldn’t decide if something was indeed different or if my misgivings were merely the product of paranoia brought on by the quake. Continue reading “An “Earth-Shaking” Reminder about Preventative Maintenance” »

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How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter

Furnace filters come in a variety of styles, so it’s critical to choose one that’s compatible with your particular system. Photo: Moore Heating & Air Conditioning (2014)

Furnace filters come in a variety of styles, so it’s critical to choose one that’s compatible with your particular system. Photo: Moore Heating & Air Conditioning (2014)

Most homeowners understand the importance of regularly changing their furnace filters, but when it comes to choosing a product, few realize the extent of their options. Far from a one-size-fits-all affair, furnace filters range from disposable fiberglass units to high-efficiency pleated models, so it’s important to consider several factors before making a decision. Continue reading “How to Choose the Right Furnace Filter” »

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Savvy Consumer Tip: Shopping for Sheets

In the market for new bedding? Watch this video for some helpful buying tips.

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The Hazards of Over-Brushing

Regularly brushing your teeth is an important part of dental health, but you should be careful not to overdo it. Photo: Dr. Stephen Ostwald, DDS (2014)

Regularly brushing your teeth is an important part of dental health, but you should be careful not to overdo it. Photo: Dr. Stephen Ostwald, DDS (2014)

Most people are aware of the critical importance of dental hygiene, but what isn’t so well-known is the danger of overdoing it. While routine brushing and flossing are crucial for maintaining dental health, brushing too vigorously and too often can actually harm your teeth and gums.

Whether you brush too fast, too hard or too often, over-brushing can lead to several adverse effects, including enamel abrasion, which is when a tooth’s protective enamel layer breaks down. Continue reading “The Hazards of Over-Brushing” »

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Going Off-Grid with Solar Power

With the right application, going off-grid with solar power can be an advantageous option. Photo: Freedom Solar (2014)

With the right application, going off-grid with solar power can be an advantageous option. Photo: Freedom Solar (2014)

With the growing popularity of solar power, more and more homeowners are making the switch to this affordable, environmentally-friendly energy source. However, many are unaware of the scope of their options, particularly in regard to on- and off-grid systems. While the majority of solar power systems are connected to the main utility grid, off-grid installations remain independent of central power, which, according to Jerry Shafer, owner of Affinity Solar Energy, can be a beneficial option under the right circumstances. Continue reading “Going Off-Grid with Solar Power” »

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The Benefits of a Plumbing Service Agreement

Since plumbing is an often-overlooked aspect of home maintenance, it’s no surprise that the majority of service calls are remedial rather than preventative. Most people tend to ignore their homes’ plumbing until an issue arises, but it’s far more cost-effective to be proactive about inspection and maintenance. For the average homeowner, however, this can seem like a daunting task. Besides being one of the most neglected systems in the home, plumbing is also one of the most intricate, consisting of a varied network of interconnected components.

Having a service agreement with a local plumbing company provides several advantages, including preventative care and reduced rates. Photo: Gotelli Plumbing Company (2014)

Having a service agreement with a local plumbing company provides several advantages, including preventative care and reduced rates. Photo: Gotelli Plumbing Company (2014)

If you’re intimidated by the prospect of maintaining your plumbing system, consider contracting a service agreement with a local plumbing company. Continue reading “The Benefits of a Plumbing Service Agreement” »

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Savvy Consumer Tip: Marketing Gripes

Consumer Reports has come up with a list of the marketing tactics that bother consumers the most. Did your top gripe make the list?

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