Crime Prevention Tips
We can never be too careful, too prepared, or too aware!
Reduce access to your personal identifying information to reduce your risk of being a victim of identity theft. Here are a few suggestions:
On your personal checks, do not list extra information such as your Social Security Number, Driver's License number, or middle name. The less-personal identifying information you make available, the harder it is for an identity thief to target you.
Do not have new checks sent to your home mailbox, ask that they be delivered to the financial institution and make arrangements to pick them up in person.
Reduce the number of credit cards you use to a bare minimum. Carry as few credit cards with you as possible. Cancel all unused accounts. Even unused account numbers are recorded in your credit report, which can be stolen by identity thieves. Keep photocopies or a list of all credit cards, account numbers, expiration dates, and customer service and fraud investigation telephone numbers of your card issuers. Keep this list in a secure place (not your wallet or purse) so you can quickly contact your creditors if your cards are lost or stolen. Do the same with bank accounts. Never give your credit card number or other personal information over the telephone unless you have a relationship with the company AND YOU HAVE INITIATED THE CALL. Identity thieves often call potential victims with a fake story offering prizes or credit and then ask for credit card or bank information to the award. DO NOT TAKE PART IN THIS TYPE OF SCAM! Always take credit card and ATM receipts with you. Never toss them in a public trash container. Shred receipts, account statements, and any other personal financial information before discarding them in the garbage. Order your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus to check for inaccuracies and fraudulent use of your accounts. Monitoring your credit card statements and your credit report are the most important steps you can take to safeguard your credit identity.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Identity Theft Victim Tips
If you become the victim of identity theft, it is important to act immediately to stop the thief's further use of your identity. Unfortunately, at this time victims themselves are burdened with resolving the problem. It is important to act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage. In dealing with authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, dates, names, and telephone numbers. Note the time spent and any expenses incurred. Confirm conversations in writing. Provide your police report number to expedite reporting the crime.
While Away From Your Residence:
- Always be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.
- Beware of other people around you and take note of their behavior.
- Walk with authority and purpose while noticing people and activity.
- Lock all personal items in your car trunk and from view. Always lock your vehicle.
- Have your vehicle and house keys ready when approaching your car or home.
- When you enter your vehicle, lock all the doors until you arrive at your destination.
- Park your vehicle in lighted areas and always be aware of your surroundings.
While At Your Residence:
- Start a Neighborhood Watch Program before the holidays.
- Get to know all of your neighbors and build a trusted relationship with them. Watch out for one another, especially when you or they are out of town.
- Make sure the outside lighting of your residence illuminates the entire area. Each entrance should have solid core or metal doors and have dead bolt locks.
- Place lights, radios, and TVs on timers when you are not home, make it appear that someone is at home.
- Have a trusted neighbor collect your mail, newspaper, and trash can.
- Do not place mail in your mail box to be picked up.
- Let your friends and neighbors know when you leave and return.
- Make sure your Christmas presents cannot be seen from the outside of your residence.
- Have a telephone in your bedroom at night and emergency numbers nearby (911, etc.).
- Do not answer the door unless you can see the person and know who it is.
- Keep a lookout for suspicious cars and persons in your neighborhood and try to get descriptions and numbers of car plates.
- Do not let solicitors enter your home. If you do choose to speak with a solicitor, have them show you their identification (this is required by law). Call the police if solicitation is not allowed in your area.
Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings. Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Keep it in your front pocket. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible. Notify your credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused. Keep a record of all your credit card numbers in a safe place at home. Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have a clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps. After placing and concealing parcels inside your vehicle, get in and park in another location in the parking lot to avoid mishaps before entering the store. Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, "con artists" may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
If you must shop, park in a well-lighted area at night. Keep all car doors locked and windows up while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device. Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice where you are parked. Never leave your car running or occupied with children inside. Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. Use the trunk to conceal them. Be sure to locate your car keys prior to leaving the building. Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag, and parcels. Do not approach your car alone if suspicious persons are near your vehicle.
If possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter. Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you. Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping. Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom. Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car. Teach children their full name, address, and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.
Ten Quick Tips:
1. Keep all doors and windows closed and securely fastened. An open window or door is an open invitation for burglars. Thieves are also quick to spot weak locks that may be easily forced open. Doors should have deadbolt locks with a one inch throw and reinforced strike plate with three inch screws. All windows should have window locks.
2. Secure sliding glass doors. Place a metal rod or piece of plywood in the track and install vertical bolts. These will help prevent burglars from forcing the door open or lifting it off the track.
3. Always lock the door to an attached garage. Don't rely on your automatic garage door opener for security.
4. Create the illusion that you are home by using timers on lights, radios and TVs. Making your residence appear occupied, even when no one is home, will deter criminals.
5. Keep the perimeter of your home well lighted. Installing low voltage outdoor lighting is a cost-effective way to discourage intruders, as well as highlight a house.
6. Never leave clues that you are away on a trip. Have a trusted neighbor collect mail and newspapers while you are away so delivered items do not accumulate. You can also ask a neighbor to park in your driveway or parking place to make it appear that you are present.
7. Keep some shades and blinds up and curtains open to maintain a normal, everyday appearance in your residence.
8. Never leave a message on your telephone answering machine telling people that you are away from home. A message that you will return at a certain time leaves your home vulnerable in the interim.
9. Keep shrubbery trimmed away from entrances and walkways. While large, ornate hedges may be beautiful, they also provide a hiding place for burglars who need only a minute to break in through a window or door.
10. Organize a community watch program to protect your neighborhood. An alert community is a safe community.
Here is a helpful link with various websites for safety.