Buying online or NFC


NFC (near-field communication) is used in credit cards, debit cards and all types of mobile devices for making payments – without having to swipe or otherwise hand over your card or device. Google Wallet is an example of the technology at work. You setup a Google Wallet account which is linked to a credit card account. When you move your device close to the payment device, the application debits your virtual wallet automatically.

Of course our local and online crooks are all over this already and have scanners that can pick up the signal and then they can hack the pin. NFC presents the same threat to your finances and identity that online purchases pose.

If you have an application such as Wallet on your device – always set a PIN to prevent access to your device. Google Wallet also has a PIN assigned to the application separate from your device PIN.

Always assume that nothing is secure and work from that premise. In the instance of online purchases with debit cards or accounts linked to NFC payment applications – always use a separate account for purchases and payments. Move the funds from another location into the online/NFC account (keeping the minimum amount of funds in the account as necessary to make payments).

This may help your budgeting as well, as the extra step to move the money may make your reconsider if you really need the gold plated marshmallow gun after all.

Holiday Tip #4:

Bank Scams Rise over Holiday Season. Get a system in place to monitor your credit cards and bank accounts in real time.Banks & credit card websites have fraud alerts. Use them and/or Mint ( and Pageonce (

Like most people I don’t have time to constantly check my accounts daily for fraudulent transactions. Your bank and credit companies have alerts that you can easily setup that will inform you of large or suspect transactions. Some will allow you to set an actual amount, e.g. – anything over $50.00 alert me.

Mint and Pageonce are excellent tools for monitoring your spending overall, as well as alerting you to usual activity in your accounts. Your bank and credit card accounts are your first line defense, as they respond to the alert in real time, whereas Mint and Pageonce update from the bank and credit card information, then alert you.

This is even more important for tracking your debit card transactions as they aren’t usually covered for fraudulent activity. If someone gets access to your debit card information and empties your account – you are out of luck and responsible for any fraudulent purchases.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow



In Flanders Field - John Mcrae, 1915


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Holiday Tip # 3

Check your Smoke and CO Alarms!

Most common place for fires from candles – the bedroom! 

House Fire caused by unattended candles

House Fire From Unattended Candles

Statistics reveal that the most common causes of fire are:

  • Leaving candles unattended.
  • Falling asleep while a candle is lit.
  • Using candles for light.
  • Candles located too close to burnable objects.
  • Candles knocked over by children, pets or sudden drafts.

Safety Tips

  • Extinguish candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Keep lit candles away from items that can catch fire such as toys, clothing, books, curtains, Christmas trees and paper decorations.
  • Place candles in sturdy, burn-resistant containers that won’t tip over and are big enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Don’t place lit candles near windows, where blinds or curtains may close or blow over them.
  • Don’t use candles in high traffic areas where children or pets could knock them over.
  • Never let candles burn out completely. Extinguish them when they get to within two inches of the holder or decorative material.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a room with lit candles.
  • Do not allow older children to light candles in their bedrooms. A forgotten candle or an accident is all it takes to start a fire.
  • During power outages, exercise caution when using candles as a light source. Many destructive fires start when potential fire hazards go unnoticed in the dark.
  • Never use a candle for light when fuelling equipment such as a camp fuel heater or lantern.
  • Keep candle wicks short at all times. Trim the wick to one-quarter inch (6.4 mm).
  • Be wary of buying novelty candles. Avoid candles surrounded by flammable paint, paper, dried flowers, or breakable/meltable containers.
  • Extinguish taper and pillar candles when they burn to within two inches of the holder, and container candles before the last half-inch of wax begins to melt.
  • When buying or using novelty candles, try to determine if they pose a potential fire hazard (if they contain a combustible component for instance). If they do, or if you suspect that they might, inform your local fire department.
  • Use extreme caution when carrying a lit candle, holding it well away from your clothes and any combustibles that may be along your path.

Reprint from Fire Prevention Canada  Check the site out for more Fire Safety Tips

Halloween and Drivers

Halloween = Excited Kids

image of witch crashed into tree and drinking and flying

Don't Drink and Fly - or Drive for that matter!

Halloween = excited children out on the streets. Many have obscured vision and reduced hearing due to their costumes. Drivers pay extra attention!

Holiday Tip #2

Staying in a hotel or inn? When out, leave the radio or television playing and put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. This way you are less likely to receive an unwanted visitor when you are out or even worse when you arrive back. If you have valuables that have to be left in the room – don’t hide them in plain sight. For example, place a laptop behind a full length curtain or down the side of a sofa; jewelry, passports between the unused towels in the bathroom (obviously after the room has been serviced). Set a reminder on your smartphone to remind you where you hid items before checking out.

Travel through the main areas and avoid taking shortcuts if at all possible. Many places have entrances where guests can use the room key to enter a side or back door, but the area is usually secluded and not directly monitored.

If you can’t get a parking spot close to the entrance and have to park in a secluded area, request that the front desk monitor as you park and make you way to the entrance. The majority of hotels have security camera covering their own car parks. Another option is to call the front desk and have them on phone as you make your way to the entrance. Remember not to have them holding as you unload and get yourself organized – have them on the phone as you make your way to from the car to the door.

Holiday Security Tips #1

If you travel for the holidays and normally end up using family and friend’s PC/laptops to check email, pay bills, etc. – beware! You have no idea what resides on that system. It could be infected with a virus or key stroke logger. If you send an email or connect to work, you could be opening up others to viruses lurking within. If at all possible utilize a secure remote desktop or clientless VPN solution (GoToMyPC, Secure Access, etc.) to reduce the likelihood that your data will be exposed to unknown entities.