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Stay safe this Christmas

It's the busiest time of the year - and not just for elves and reindeer. It's also when thieves are out on the prowl, with a recent Aviva Survey revealing that household theft claims go up by around 8% on New Year's Eve. But don't worry. These top tips from security experts will help you keep your home safe this holiday season.

Make your house less attractive to thieves by using timed lights, alarms, CCTV cameras and even fake televisions to give the illusion that someone's at home. Steffan George, Director of Business Development at the Master Locksmiths Association, also recommends installing high-quality locks on doors and windows, and securing outbuildings with tools safely stored away.

"Never leave valuables in sight," says George, "as it acts as an advertisement to potential thieves. Also consider getting a safe professionally specified and installed, and make sure all doors and windows are locked, even when the house is occupied. Keep your keys in a safe place, and ensure they are never left in locks or within reach of the letterbox."

"I would avoid publicising your travel plans on social media, in particular if you are going away for Christmas," says George. If you're among the many who leave their social media profiles open to the public, remember that even a simple tweet could be an advertisement to potential thieves.

Your home isn't the only thing that's vulnerable at this time of year - your data is at risk too. Here's some advice from Andrei Petrus, Product Manager of Avira Antivirus Security, on how to protect yourself from hackers, malware and online theft. "Use antivirus protection to stay safe from the plethora of threats that exist on the mobile realm. Malware might spy on you, steal personal information, send SMS to premium numbers, or render your phone unusable. You will also need web protection to make sure you don't fall prey to phishing attacks or dodgy practices that cyber crooks adopt in order to steal sensitive information. And finally, the possibility to lock certain apps adds an additional layer of protection. You might hand your phone to friends and colleagues sometimes when they want to make a call, but make sure that your messages, photos and browser history are inaccessible to them."

Don't forget - at first direct we'll increase the sum insured for contents by the amounts shown on your schedule during any month in which you celebrate a religious festival, to cover gifts and food bought for the occasion. Peace of mind at this busy time of year! Learn more about our home insurance cover.