What you can do to protect yourself and your family from being victimized.
BY: Darrel Hildebrant, Advanced Crime Prevention/CPTED Specialist, Rochester Police Department,
[dropcap color=blue cap=P]Protect your checks and credit cards. They are more valuable than cash to criminals. Don’t leave them in your car or desk unless secured. Many times people will go to the park to run or walk the dog etc. and they will put the wallet or purse under the seat or in the trunk when they get to the park. Theives are watching and will break in to your car the second you are out of sight. We caught someone doing just this and it took them one and a half minutes to wait for the person to get out of sight and 20 seconds to get into the car and steal the wallet or purse.[/dropcap]
Don’t put your D.L. # on your checks. This makes it easy to get a false ID made up. This also requires the business to ask you to show your D.L. which is a benefit to you - it can be a pain, but it causes the thief / forger to work harder /alter your D.L. or get delayed or arrested if the business is sharp enough to pick up on the fraud being perpetrated. If your D.L. is stolen - go to the DMV and “flag” your license.
Keep all credit card receipts safe. Many criminals use numbers off receipts to defraud. Take your receipts with you. Check whether or not your whole number shows on the receipts. With the whole number and expiration date, anyone can order goods by phone or over the Internet and these are virtually impossible to prosecute, because no one can ID the person who presented the card # for payment.
Shred credit card offers you get in the mail. Thieves steal mail and garbage to get these offers. One woman was arrested in Washington County with a station wagon full of mail - she had been following the postal truck and emptying the boxes a block behind him. She had many prior arrests for forgery and credit card fraud. Don’t leave mail in your mailbox for pickup by your postal carrier - put them in a postal mailbox that can’t be opened - people steal mail for account numbers and to copy / counterfeit your checks and ID’s.
Don’t leave mail in your outdoor box for pickup. Many criminals are stealing letters from mailboxes, which are left for the mailman. Most of those have checks, which can be counterfeited, or Credit Card numbers, which can be used by thieves to purchase items.
Tell the 3 credit bureaus NOT to give credit OK unless verifying with you by phone. Many people end up having to do this (put on a “Fraud Alert”) after their identity has been stolen and people are not just using their checks and credit cards, but are opening new credit in the victim’s name and buying cars or running up huge debt on new credit cards. NEVER give your card # out to someone calling you - Make charges only when you call to order something. I always get the person’s name that I did the transaction with in case my card # is compromised, there will be a possible suspect for the police to talk to. Credit card Fraud Investigators and bank personnel will never call and ask for your card number and expiration date. They will also never ask for your social security number, unless they are following up on a police report you made about Identity Theft or related crime.