It is that time of year again. Most often we begin to experience numerous car thefts where the owners of the vehicle are leaving their cars running either in their driveway or at a gas station while they are inside. Please help protect your vehicle and property by taking your keys with you.
Many residential burglaries can be prevented by closing and securing your garage door! An open garage door allows access into your home and provides the opportunity for a theft.
Vehicle burglaries are a constant problem in most urban areas. It occurs with cars parked on the streets, in driveways, in parking lots, and even with vehicle parked inside a garage with an open door. Vehicle burglaries, unfortunately, are a common occurrence. Most incidents occur at night, but a few do occur during the day as well, especially during the holiday season. Basically if the opportunity is there, a criminal will take advantage of it. If you follow this list of suggestions you may help yourself from becoming a victim:
- Make sure your garage door is closed. Watch it shut before you enter the house. If everyone is in for the night turn on your “vacation lock” button located on the wall mount. Even if it is during the daylight hours, never leave your garage unattended for even a minute, this is opportunity and it will be taken advantage of. Make sure your “main door” is locked. We suggest you buy an extra deadbolt for this door; these are randomly kicked in to gain access to the garage and your home.
- Even if your cars are parked in the garage, do not leave any items inside. Wallets and purses are often taken from inside a car parked in a garage.
- When you leave your car, even for a few minutes, never leave anything of value in the vehicle. A lot of individuals will put items under the seat or in the trunk. This does not deter a criminal. They know these actions and often watch for them. Ladies if you do not like carrying your purse, carry a small wallet that you can carry the basics in when you go out.
- Do not leave cords out (i.e., MP3 players, cell phone chargers, etc) since this is an indicator that these items may be inside the car.
- Gym bags, diaper bags, etc. are valued by criminals (because they often contain valuables) and are easily taken. Leaving these types of bags unsecured inside your vehicle can increase your likelihood of becoming a victim.
- Keep the inside of your car clean. When a criminal comes by and looks inside your window and find nothing, it is likely that he or she will go on to the next vehicle. Criminals are opportunists.
- Never carry Social Security cards inside your purse/wallet. If stolen, the likelihood of identity theft increases. Criminal may either use these documents themselves to assume your identity or sell them off. Though there are steps you can take to protect yourself if this occurs, you may be looking at years of correcting numerous problems if this were to happen to you.
- Make a handwritten list of all your high dollar items (including serial numbers) in your home and take photographs of them. MAKE THIS YOUR NEXT WEEKEND PROJECT!! This can help the police solve the case in the event you become a victim of burglary or theft. Serial numbers are a vital number that can provide police with valuable leads.
- Make a list of all your credit cards numbers. Write down the 800 number on the back, along with banking information (after hour numbers as well). It will be that much easier to get these cancelled ASAP. A very good rule to live by is to not carry every card you have with you...just the ones you plan to use.
- Lock up anything you can, do not make it easy for a criminal. If cabinets lock, lock them. Keep fire boxes with vital information in place that is not easily found or accessible. Get an extra lock for your doors. Install motion sensor lights around your home.
- Never keep anything in your car you do not want taken from you. If you are going somewhere that you do not need your purse/wallet, leave it at home (use a small wallet or plastic sleeve that fits easily in your pocket for a drivers license, cash or credit card). Do not leave items in the open and remember criminals often know the hiding places you will use in your vehicle.
- Make sure when you are out and about to remove your GPS systems from your vehicles. We have had incidents where these are stolen with a garage door opener. The individual will then just hit the “HOME” button. Now they know where you live and have the means to enter your garage and or home.
- Be proactive in your neighborhood! If you see something suspicious, report it. Get involved in a Neighborhood Watch program. You may call Crime Prevention Specialist Christie Jacobs about Neighborhood Watch programs in your area. She can be reached at 801-256-2033, or at email@example.com.
For information concerning identity theft you can visit the Attorney General’s website at www.idtheft.utah.gov.
- It is suggested if you have not become a victim of identity theft or even if you have, to enroll in a program to protect yourself. There are several programs you can enroll in for a monthly fee. Check with your auto/home insurance provider or one of the three major credit bureau’s websites such as Experian on information pertaining to this.
- To exclude your name from the nationwide consumer credit reporting company list for unsolicited credit and insurance offers you can call 1-888-567-8688. This will stop unsolicited mail for several years.
- If you are in need of information to help you repair your credit from an identity theft situation you can visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at: www.ftc.gov.
- If you have become a victim of identity theft, it is highly suggested you place a fraud alert on your credit reporting. You can contact one of the three major credit bureaus to do so:
NOTE: You only have to contact one of the above companies; they will alert the other two. After this is done, creditors are required to follow certain procedures if credit is applied for in your name in order to protect you. This may delay your own ability to obtain credit as well but it makes it impossible for the suspect to ruin your credit. Please know this is a free service and it only good for 90 days. After this look in to another avenue of having your credit protected further.
FRAUD AND SCAMS
The basic rule that everyone should remember is, if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Fraudulent scams are on the rise and getting bigger every day. The people who organize these groups are very clever and have even resorted to threats as of lately to try and get anyone to fall for what they are “selling”. Visit the website www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com.
- If you receive a check in the mail because you have won a lottery or some other prize, this most likely is a scam. What happens is you call the number to “verify your information” and they want you to send them back a certain percentage of the check to cover some fee and you keep the rest. So you deposit the check, send them their money and the check comes back as fraudulent. YOU now owe the bank hundreds to thousands of dollars. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Take the check to your banking institution. Let them process it. DO NOT DO ANYTHING until you hear from them. Most time they will be able to tell you right then and there if it is a good check or not.
- Be very careful with dealing with online or paper ads.
- When answering an ad: Never buy something “out-of-state” unless you are dealing with that individual in person and have personally seen the item (the same goes with in-state). People do use fake names and addresses, next thing you know you have wired someone money and you never receive your item and the person you were dealing with doesn’t exist.
- When placing an ad: Again always deal with someone in person. Most scams come through an e mail response to your add. You will have an unknown person state their client or they themselves are interested in your product. They will then state they are going to send you a check, money order whatever means of payment. The check will be for over the amount, in which they state is for shipping, insurance, whatever. You are to wire so much back to them and keep the rest, again the check is a fake.
- Never give any personal information over the phone to anyone calling. If an individual calls stating they are with your banking institution and/or credit card company and need you to verify information; get their name and call the number YOU have for the company. Do not give out social security numbers, and or account numbers. The same goes for the internet, there are several fraudulent emails asking for the same information claiming to be with a certain company. Go to the company’s official website, and call their customer service line to verify.
- Another area where scams are starting to hit is through offers of employment. Be very careful when answering any kind of solicitation for employment. These are coming through secret shopper programs, “work from home” opportunities and other avenues. Usually you will be asked to provide upfront money for training materials, etc. In some cases your “employer” will tell you they are sending you a check and that you are to cash it and send so much money to here and there. Again this goes back to the check being fraudulent.
- We have several reports on a daily basis concerning an individual’s credit card that is being used, but they still have possession of the card. People wonder how this has happened and what is occurring. When your card leaves your hands, anything can happen, right? Well it is. Your card number at anytime can be copied down, the number is then sent to someone who can process a fake, but usable card with your number. We have now had report of people in line who are taking pictures of credit cards as you’re standing at the check stand holding it. It looks as if they are texting and they are actually taking a picture. Use cash at any location your card would leave your hands, be conscious when standing in line. It is unfortunate we have to take these “paranoid” steps but these things are happening and we want you to be aware.