Yesterday we received a letter from one of my husband's previous employers letting us know thieves swindled money from numerous employees' retirement accounts. The letter discussed the measures the company was taking to protect these funds as well as measures we should take to protect ourselves.

There was no data breach. The thieves had simply sent "phishing" emails and gotten personal information.

Phishing is sending legitimate-looking emails alleged to be from one's bank, credit card company, IRS and so forth. These fake emails specifically request log in information, passwords, credit card and Social Security numbers.

Deter online fraud

Just as one should never give financial or personal information over the phone, don't assume an email is legitimate, especially one that asks you to click a link to log in or to confirm your password.

People who receive such an email should call the institution, and apprise them of the email.

To contact the company by email, look up its website and type in the address yourself. A secure website will have "https" in the website's address line.

Emergency responses 

Installing a lock box outside your home with a house key is a smart alternative for emergency personnel to gain access to your home without breaking down the door or a window, especially for those living alone. Lock boxes are available at Lowe's for about $30 to $45 each.

Once the key is placed in the lock box, memorize the code, and have it written next to the phone. If you have a medical alert system, make sure they have the code so that it can be given to the 911 operator. This code should also be given to a trusted neighbor in case of your incapacitation.

 

Vacation tips

When planning your vacation, don't mention it on social media as that tips off burglars that the house is empty.

●Put lights on a timer throughout your house and vary the times they turn on.

●Stop the newspaper and mail or have a trusted friend/neighbor pick them up.

●Make sure that the grass gets mowed.

●Set your house alarm.

●Take an inventory of valuables before you leave, and lock up what you can.

Both the Crestview Police Department and the Okaloosa Sheriff's Office offer vacation security checks to help ensure the safety of your home while on vacation.

The forms may be downloaded from their respective websites: http://www.crestviewpd.org/index.php/community-service-programs/vacation-home-checks/ or http://www.sheriff-okaloosa.org/resources/crime-prevention/vacation-security-check/.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.