Most of us know that we shouldn’t flash large wads of cash around while we are walking down a poorly lit road at night. We’ve seen enough and read enough news stories about horrible things happening to people. Although we know violent crimes and simple crimes happen to people every minute of every day, we don’t ever believe it will happen to us, until one day… it does. Here is a list of precautions to take that will hopefully help you avoid a situation.
- If walking by yourself at night, call someone on your cell phone and ask them to talk with you until you arrive to your destination safely.
- Don’t walk the dog or go for a run in the early morning or late at night when streets tend to be deserted. If you must go at these times, take a buddy. There is safety in numbers.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to what people around you are doing so you may avoid accidents.
- If you think someone is following you, cross the street or change directions. If they follow you, head for a store or restaurant. If there are none nearby, head toward a lit house. Yell for help if you need to.
- Don’t display cash or other valuables as they are desirable items to criminals.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Try to only carry what you will need for that day.
- If someone tries to rob you, give up your property. Its not worth giving up your life.
Tips For Keeping Your Home Safe
- Lock your doors even if you are only running out to do a short errand
- Make sure your doors have a deadbolt
- Keep you garage doors closed even if you are at home
- Keep your windows locked, or have the safety latches engaged
- Do not place a note on your door informing someone you are away
- Make sure your home has sufficient exterior lighting for nighttime hours
- Install motion sensitive lighting
- Keep your house address numbers visible for emergency responders
- If you go on vacation, make arrangements for someone to pick your mail up
- Keep ladders in your garage, or locked tool shed so they are not accessible to a burglar
- Invest in a alarm system
- If a new appliance was purchased such as a new television or home theater system avoid placing the empty box outside where it is visible to others
- While vacationing, ask a trusted neighbor or family member to watch your home and pick up mail or newspapers
- Lock your vehicle – Many criminals are opportunists, they will many times search for unlocked vehicles because no force is needed to entere er the vehicle and opening a car door does not appear suspicious.
- Remove valuables from your vehicle – Don’t allow items like GPS units, purses/wallets, cell phones, cash or anything else that is of value to be easily seen in your vehicle. Thieves usually look for items that are easy to sell and turn into cash. They will often look for these items before breaking into a vehicle.
- Don’t keep spare keys in your vehicle – Keeping spare keys in your vehicle could turn a theft from your vehicle into a vehicle theft or a burglary.
- Try to park in a well lit area – Criminals often use the cover of darkness to their advantage. Most thefts from vehicles occur in the late evening / early morning hours. Keeping your vehicle in well lit area decreases your chances of becoming a victim.
- Install antivirus and firewall software on your computer
- Search only trusted websites
- Use caution when purchasing merchandise online, and make sure the site is secure
- Do not open email attachments from someone you do not know
- Be mindful that banking institutions will not ask for your personal information through an email
- Do not post your date of birth, home address and other identifying information online for complete strangers to see
- Keep you computer in a central location, so you can see what sites your children are on
- Establish rules/guidelines for your children to follow while they are online
National Crime Prevention Council:
Center for Safe Schools:
WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone’s identifying information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, and mother’s maiden name, in order to impersonate them. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud which includes, but is not limited to, taking over the victim’s financial accounts, opening new bank accounts, purchasing automobiles, applying for loans, credit cards, and social security benefits, renting apartments, and establishing services with utility and phone companies.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY
- Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends
- Don’t leave your purse and/or wallets in unattended vehicles
- Deposit outgoing mail in U.S. Postal Service collection boxes
- Shred unwanted documents that contain personal information
- Put your trash out on the day that it is collected
- Review your consumer credit report annually
- Report lost or stolen credit cards to the issuer immediately
- Destroy expired/old credit cards and drivers licenses
- Memorize your Social Security number and passwords.
- Don’t list your Social Security number on your checks
- Match credit card receipts against monthly bills
- Check your financial statements for accuracy
- ALWAYS safeguard birth certificates, credit history reports, and any statements that contain personal information
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF AN IDENTITY THEFT
- Make a police report: Give the Officer as much information on the theft as possible: How the fraud was discovered, activity to date of fraud (in chronological order), affected accounts and losses, and any information about how the imposter got your information.
- Cancel any fraudulent or compromised accounts: Immediately close and dispute any new, unauthorized accounts. The FTC has prepared an “ID theft affidavit” that is accepted by many banks and creditors at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
- Notify Credit Bureaus: Contact one of the three credit bureaus to report the theft. When contacted, the credit bureaus will put a “fraud alert” on your credit report to prevent any further fraudulent accounts from being opened. As soon as one of the credit bureaus places a fraud alert, the other two bureaus are automatically notified to do the same and you should receive a free credit report from all three bureaus.
- Review your credit reports carefully: Look for changes in old accounts and look for newly opened accounts. Check your name, address and Social Security number for any changes. Have the credit agencies remove all information in our credit report that results from the theft. Order new credit reports every three months until your situation is cleared up.
IDENTITY THEFT CONTACT INFORMATION
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
600 Pennsylvania, NW, H-130, Washington DC 20580
United States Postal Inspection Service
P.O. Box 7500
Philadelphia, PA 19101-9000
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
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