These articles contain tips and tricks to keep you and your family safe, against crime. There is always a safe way to do things and we offer information on how to avoid the most common problems and safety risks. For a list of all archived articles visit our Archived Articles List.
For the sake of maintaining a decent credit score and financing major purchases that cannot wait, you need one credit card. Naturally, you want a credit card with the highest possible credit limit and the lowest possible interest rate.
Be on guard against everyday hazards.
Try to anticipate and pay routine expenses with cash. Using your credit card less, you minimize your exposure. That cute young server who delivered your lunch very easily could have written-down your digits and run-up all kinds of charges from a disposable cell phone by the time you returned to the office. According to Scambusters.org, “Research shows that the rate of fraudulent purchases made by cell phones is much higher than credit card fraud on the net.” If you must use your credit card for business expenses, try not to let it out of your sight. Whether or not the server thinks you are rude, watch her process your transaction; then, carefully enter your thoughtful tip and total the amount yourself. Just as importantly, if you know you frequently will use a credit card, find one that includes cell-phone fraud alerts and lets you track the card’s use from your handheld.
Experts sternly counsel never use your credit card on the telephone—especially never give your credit card information on an incoming call. You have no way of authenticating the call or confirming the caller’s identity. Stories abound about rogue telemarketers who have worked briefly for big banks, memorizing the scripts and perfecting their delivery, then going out to test their criminal skills using the banks’ own lists of borrowers. A few even have run their schemes while remaining on the banks’ payrolls. Especially beware of telephone solicitors who demand too much information: The more they ask, the more you should decline.
Be wary about internet purchases.
Before you worry about the security of an internet purchase, be cautious about its frugality. Check the shipping costs associated with your order as well as the price of the item you like. An extortionate shipping fee will wipe-out your deep discount. If a major retailer offers a great online bargain, call your nearest store and negotiate for similar savings in-store. The best stores—Nordstrom, The Home Depot, and Macy’s, for example–often will meet your demands because they value your loyalty
Never give your credit card information to an unsecured site. Your web browser usually will warn you if you are about to transmit your data to a site not properly encrypted. Never respond to an e-mail that requests your credit card data, and be especially cautious about unsolicited e-mails that ask address and telephone information in addition to your credit card digits. Skilled identity thieves can recreate you with just four or five critical numbers.
Use a good anti-virus program.
Most importantly, maintain your anti-virus software, because sophisticated viruses, often enclosed in fake security software, easily can invade your hard drive and steal all of your personal data. FBI officials report that nearly three-quarters of internet identity theft now originates in malware, and malicious programs proliferate at that the rate more than 100,000 per day.
Track your spending and read your statements.
Reconcile your credit card statements with your records just as religiously as you review and reconcile your checking account statements. When in doubt, contest. If you see a purchase for which you have no receipt or an expense you could not possibly have incurred, call the credit card company’s fraud line. The best, most reputable credit card companies assure they thoroughly investigate all disputed charges; hold them to their promises. More importantly, the best companies will remove the charge from your bill pending the investigation, so that it does not affect your available credit. Apply similar rules to fees. If you dispute any fee’s legitimacy, contest it.
Move shredding to the top of your list for fun evening activities. Shred credit card receipts and unsolicited credit card applications; unless you really intend to use old credit card statements, shred them, too. Better still, go paperless and do the planet a favor. Do not write down your PIN, and try not to use obvious PINs like birthdays and children’s names; indulge your sneaky, devious tendencies as you make-up PINs, and then commit them firmly to memory.
Be aware. Stay alert. Remain calm and confident.
Disabled people face many physical challenges. This makes them vulnerable to would-be assailants who assume the disabled are incapable of protecting themselves.
Look out for yourself:
Before you go on vacation:
Out and about:
On public transportation:
Take a stand
Don’t let a con-artist rip you off
Many con-artists prey on people’s desires to find miracle cures for chronic conditions and fatal diseases.
To outsmart con-artists, remember these tips:
Crime and the fear of crime create special problems for the elderly. Crime prevention is everyone's responsibility, not just a job for law enforcement. Seniors can learn how to protect themselves from crime by following these simple, commonsense suggestions. Share these tips with your neighbors and friends, to make it tough for criminals to work in your neighborhood.
AT HOME . . .
WALKING . . .
WHILE SHOPPING . . .
IN YOUR CAR . . .
BANKING . . .
The MOST important thing YOU can do is CALL THE POLICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity. You have to be the eyes of your neighborhood. And remember you can always remain a pair of anonymous eyes!
Light up your residence, lock your doors at all times, and call the Police when you see something suspicious.
Don't Tempt a Thief:
Locks…Get the Best:
Targeting the Outside:
If Your Home Is Broken Into:
If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:
Other precautions you should take:
Tips on how to avoid car break-ins:
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.
The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.
Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
How do thieves steal an identity?
Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold.
Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:
How can you find out if your identity was stolen?
The best way to find out is to monitor your accounts and bank statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft.
Unfortunately, many consumers learn that their identity has been stolen after some damage has been done.
What should you do if your identity is stolen?
Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name.
Should you file a police report if your identity is stolen?
A police report that provides specific details of the identity theft is considered an Identity Theft Report, which entitles you to certain legal rights when it is provided to the three major credit reporting agencies or to companies where the thief misused your information. An Identity Theft Report can be used to permanently block fraudulent information that results from identity theft, such as accounts or addresses, from appearing on your credit report. It will also make sure these debts do not reappear on your credit reports. Identity Theft Reports can prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft, or selling them to others for collection. An Identity Theft Report is also needed to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.
In order for a police report to entitle you to the legal rights mentioned above, it must contain specific details about the identity theft. You should file an ID Theft Complaint with the FTC and bring your printed ID Theft Complaint with you to the police station when you file your police report. The printed ID Theft Complaint can be used to support your local police report to ensure that it includes the detail required.
A police report is also needed to get copies of the thief’s application, as well as transaction information from companies that dealt with the thief. To get this information, you must submit a request in writing, accompanied by the police report, to the address specified by the company for this purpose.
What can you do to help fight identity theft?
A great deal. Awareness is an effective weapon against many forms identity theft. Be aware of how information is stolen and what you can do to protect yours, monitor your personal information to uncover any problems quickly, and know what to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen.
Armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself and take action, you can make identity thieves' jobs much more difficult. You can also help fight identity theft by educating your friends, family, and members of your community. The FTC has prepared a collection of easy-to-use materials to enable anyone regardless of existing knowledge about identity theft to inform others about this serious crime.
Every hour someone is getting their identity stolen. Things we take for granted can open the door for a thief. You tell yourself that you have to use a credit card to pay for this or that, or you try to play it safe and write a check at the store instead. You get such a great discount if you apply for this one store’s credit card. All things we all do every day to exist.
Identity theft is happening in every city, town no matter what the size. It is defined by Wikipedia.org as “a form of stealing someone's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name.” It is not just the current economy that brings about this crime, it has happened for decades. As long as there are dishonest people, someone will try to steal something that does not belong to them.
The problem with identity theft is it happens behind the scenes. Most people don't even know anything is wrong until it is too late. These thieves take your information and get credit cards, open a bank account, change mailing address and spend your money. They depend on most people to not check their accounts regularly. When someone does notices something, they could have racked up devasting amounts of debt and/or had their bank accounts cleaned out.
Exactly what information do they need to be successful at stealing an identity? Not much. If they can obtain your birth date, address or phone number, they are on their way. They can begin to set up a post office box, a fake driver license, store credit card all in their name and with their photo! Each step they take, they build credibility.
Information is obtained from many sources: school, health insurance carrier and any other mail you leave in your mailbox for “pick up” the next day. Some even go so far as picking through your garbage to get more information from bills, credit card slips and any other documents you do not shred.
Key Tips In Staying Safe
If you are the victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement agency, all your credit card agencies and complete an identity theft packet (provided by local law enforcement).
Article written by: Helen Neal of HLN Web Designs
It is a fact of life, when the economy is declining, crime rates rise all over the United States. As more people lose their jobs and homes, they start to feel a sense of desperation, and sometimes turning to criminal activities appears to be the only solution.
The number of robberies, burglaries and auto thefts often increase dramatically when times get tough, and the worse the economy gets the more these and other crimes are likely to occur. People may feel that stealing from businesses or individuals may be the only way for them to survive. To make matters worse, as times get tough financially many law enforcement agencies are forced to endure budget cuts, limit the number of deputies they have on patrol, hold off on purchasing necessary equipment and discontinue important community and social programs that help keep young people away from a life of crime, gangs and other illegal activities.
Although many of the people who turn to crime during a recession would normally do everything possible to avoid violence, when people get desperate they become likely to do most anything. Both non-violent and violent crime rates increase as people lose their jobs and are forced to fend for themselves.
Sometimes the increase in crime is not only due to someone who has lost their job and can’t make ends meet; it is also seen for those who graduated college and now can’t find a job. Under these difficult circumstances, many people turn to alcohol for comfort, and that usually makes things worse. Alcohol consumption is commonly associated with an increase in crime. When alcohol is mixed with desperation from bad economic times, the combination can be deadly. Crimes are far more likely to be violent when the aggressor has been drinking.
How to Protect Yourself
So what can you do to protect yourself? One of the best ways to avoid crime is simply to be aware that you could become a victim at any time. Try not to go out on your own late at night, but if that's not possible at least stay in areas that are well lit and have plenty of people around. Never park your car in a dark, unattended lot where a predator may be lurking and waiting for someone. Stay alert wherever you go, and pay attention to your surroundings. Watch for predators, and remember that they are looking for someone who appears to be timid that they can take advantage of. Times get tough now and then, and crime rates almost always skyrocket. Your mind set will have a lot to do it. Don't let yourself become a victim, always be cautious and do what you can to stay away from danger.
Sources: National Crime Prevention Council; Broward County Sheriff's Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
Ponzi and pyramid schemes promise investors high returns or dividends not usually available through traditional investments. While they may meet this promise to early investors, people who invest in the scheme later usually lose their money. Find out how to avoid these scams.
‘Ponzi’ schemes are named after their creator Charles Ponzi who, in the 1920s, guaranteed a 50% return to investors in the US. However, much of the subsequent money he received was used to pay ‘dividends’ to earlier investors. The scheme collapsed when he was unable to attract more money to pay investors who entered the scheme later.
Pyramid schemes work in much the same way, although investors are encouraged to recruit more people and money by being paid commission when they do so. These scams can also be called ‘franchise fraud’, ‘multi-level marketing’ or a ‘chain referral scheme’.
REMEMBER: IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!
How it works
Ponzi and pyramid schemes occur where payments are made to existing investors using money from new investors. This helps make the scheme seem genuine and profitable to the early investors and encourages them to attract more people and money.
But both types of scheme collapse when the unsustainable supply of new investors and money dries up. Investors usually find most or all of their money is gone, and that the fraudsters who set up the scheme claimed much of it for themselves.
The schemes often involve ‘affinity fraud’ as respected members of a group can be targeted first, receive a high return on their investment and promote the scheme to others before it collapses.
The focus of pyramid schemes is often on money that can be earned from recruiting new investors rather than the return on investment.
How to protect yourself
Beware of investment opportunities that offer unrealistic returns and consider getting independent professional advice before making any investment decision.
Also be careful when an opportunity to invest your money requires you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit – and be especially wary if you are told you can earn more from introducing investors than from the return on investment.
It is estimated that $65 million is lost each year in the United States in home invasions, muggings, and in other violent crimes. It is estimated that $600 billion is lost per year due to fraud. Work place violence caused an estimated $30 billion to American businesses last year.
It is important to be aware a crime can occur, anticipating the location, time, and taking action to reduce the chance of it happening. Crime prevention is key to stopping the ability and opportunity for a criminal. The use of instinct, knowledge, common sense, and awareness can make you a tough target.
Three Basic Rules
If You’re Attacked
After a Sexual Assault
In an Elevator
Go ahead. Take your vacation.
But stay on the job of securing your privacy and protecting your identity.
"According to the FBI, crime rates rise about ten percent during summer months," said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyrights.org).
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse's six tips to protect your property, privacy and identity while on vacation:
To limit the chances of a thief clearing out your checking account, Stephens recommended not carrying your debit card or checkbook on vacation. Use cash or credit cards instead. Never use a debit card at a restaurant or shop where you cannot witness the card-swipe transaction.
Submitted by Andy Wise, Chief Consumer Investigator/Andy's Restaurant
After being stuck inside all winter, many people anxiously await the arrival of the warm spring season weather. But, there are some who dread the potential increase in crimes caused by rising temperatures.
Tracy Siska, executive director at the Chicago Justice Project, says there is a correlation between rising temperatures and violent crimes.
“Violence increases, especially street violence, muggings, assaults, battery,” Siska says. “Across the boards most crimes increase.”
Siska speculates that the spike in crime may be due to the increase in the number of interactions that people have with one another during the warmer months. Warmer weather can bring together potential wrongdoers, victims, and belongings all in the same place.
Roger Humber, director of the Criminal Justice department at South University — Montgomery agrees that warmer temperatures alone may not be to blame for an increase in crime. Like Siska, he says the rise in social interactions may be a factor.
“A factor may be the heat, or it may just be that we are all active more during this time,” he says, adding that people may experience a form of heat aggravation in warm weather that causes them to lose their temper more easily.
Examining Factors Behind Crime Increase
Although many law enforcement departments across the country report increases in crime during warm weather months, Laura Brinkman, associate director at the University of Chicago Crime Lab says there is no clear causal explanation for the pattern that is consistently applicable across different urban settings.
Violence increases, especially street violence, muggings, assaults, battery.
“For example, it could be that it’s not the weather, but the academic summer break that leads to a spike in violent crime,” Brinkman says. “Juveniles are the most likely to commit crime, in general, so it seems almost obvious that crime may peak during summer months when students are off from school with idle hands.”
Chicago received a great deal of media attention during the spring and summer 2010 months, due to a rash of violent crimes in the city’s South Side area.
Siska says the level of violence during this time period wasn’t necessarily greater than usual, but the press put more emphasis on it than they have in the past.
Brinkman says statistics have shown that homicides in Los Angeles, which has warm temperatures most of the year, are the highest during July and August, but are almost as high during December and January as well.
“So despite the fact that juveniles contribute to a large portion of violent crime, there is nothing special about summer that causes an increase in offending in Los Angeles,” says Brinkman. “This could suggest that the relationship between homicide and summer in Chicago is due to temperature, rather than the fact that students are on summer break.”
Brinkman adds that these statistics could also simply mean that Los Angeles has found a better way to decrease the homicides that occur during the summer months than is used in Chicago.
“Adding to the tenuousness of the summer-break murder-spike theory in Chicago is the fact that the majority of school-age homicide victims in Chicago are actually not enrolled in school, making summer break no different a time of year for these individuals than when school is in session, aside from weather of course. That is unless the addition of school children to the mix of individuals out and about in a given neighborhood somehow exacerbates pre-existing tension, which is again, hard to measure.”Regardless of the reason behind the violence, Humber says that law enforcement should provide extra resources in areas with the highest amounts of crime.
“Additional patrols in high-risk areas, shortening response time to calls for service during times when criminal activity is most pronounced may help,” Humber says.
Siska believes that for the most part, there is adequate police coverage even in the areas of Chicago with the highest crime rates. He says that although some police officers could be transferred from areas with lower crime rates to the areas that see the most crime, it wouldn’t necessarily lower crime in the city.
“There’s a difference between prevention and displacement,” Siska says. “It changes who was victimized.”
Siska says that for the past 50 years, Chicago has been saying they were going to find a way to end the violence in the city and they haven’t, so something else needs to be done to stop it.
Sergeant Dave Jacobson, of the Oak Park Police Department, in Oak Park, Illinois, says he has occasionally seen an increase in crimes that could be attributed to warmer weather, for example property crimes such as bike thefts and auto break-ins.
“With warmer weather, people tend to start bringing out and leaving out valuables, such as bicycles, lawn furniture, etc,” Jacobson says. “This creates more opportunities for would-be criminals to commit theft.”
“You also might see more fights between teenagers as they start to spend more time hanging out outside,” Jacobson adds.
Although the spring can be a dangerous time in major cities, people are advised to always take safety precautions.
“Always be aware of your surroundings; when possible avoid unfamiliar or potentially unsafe situations; don’t leave valuables outside where they can easily be stolen; and never hesitate to call 911 if you observe anything suspicious,” Jacobson advises.
Author: Laura Jerpi
Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.
Last Revised: 01/14