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BBB Tip of the Week

Away from home: During the holiday season, many Americans will have to travel. Over Thanksgiving, I drove to McCall, Idaho, to see my parents. My aunt and uncle, who live nearby in New Meadows, drove to Boise to see their son and his family.

And while they were gone, their house had an emergency. Well, two, really. I think they were only gone for a day or two, but they returned to a freezing house — the furnace had died, probably right after they left. Then one of the cows had stepped on a hose or line, disabling the sump pump and flooding their basement.

That lived-in look: This got me to thinking about arrangements you need to make before leaving town, especially to prevent identity theft, or theft in general. Here are some tips from to help make your home look lived-in while you’re away:

• Arrange for someone to pick up your mail and newspaper. Nothing advertises an absence like a mailbox.

• Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.

• Disconnect your garage door openers.

• Make sure someone knows how to reach you in case of an emergency.

• Open your curtains and put your lights on a timer. 

• Never hide a key on your property, even if you consider it the perfect hiding place. It would be better to give it to someone you trust.

• Consider installing deadbolts on doors near windows.

• Spokane residents can arrange with the Spokane Police Department Senior Volunteers to have “home checks” performed while you are on vacation. This free service is available to the public for up to 20 days at a time, Monday through Friday. Seniors check the perimeter of your home for common signs of attempted entry. You’ll need to make arrangements at least two weeks in advance. Call (509) 622-5885.

• When traveling by car, remember that the highest incidence of ID theft comes from people nabbing your purse or wallet. If you must leave your pocketbook in the car, put it in the trunk.

More info or to report scams: Visit the BBB at Call (509) 455-4200 or (800) 356-1007.

Holly Doering, BBB editor