Protect yourself from VIOLENT CRIME
At night, try to stay on well-lighted streets; avoid doorways, shrubbery, dark shadows near buildings, and other potential hiding places. Carry a flashlight.
- Stay away from deserted laundromats or apartment house laundry rooms, parking lots or ramps at night; be cautious even in the daytime.
- Be cautious around elevators; if you are at all suspicious of another passenger, wait for the next car. Stand near the control panel while you ride. If you are threatened or attacked, hit the alarm and as many floor buttons as you can.
- While walking or jogging, be aware of your surroundings. Look alert and confident. Make quick eye contact with people around you. Dress so you can walk or run easily to avoid attack.
- If you are being followed by a car, change direction. If followed by a person, turn and look at him. This gives you time to think and lets the person know that you are alert. In either case, walk to the nearest public place.
- Have a plan and know what you are going to do if attacked - resist or appear to cooperate, and look for a chance to escape.
- If possible, walk with a friend, use an escort service provided by many businesses or take a bus. If there are few people on board, sit near the driver. Don't fall asleep.
- In a cab or a friend's vehicle, ask the driver to wait until you signal you are safely inside your house.
- When you take out your wallet, don't reveal your money or credit cards.
- Handbags should be carried next toyour body, with the flap or clasp toward you. Wallets should be carriedin an inside or front pocket.
- Don't leave or set your purse on the back of the door or on the floor in restrooms, theaters, restaurants, or other public areas. Don't leave your purse open or unattended in a shopping cart. Carry your keys in your coat pocket.
- Don't be a hitchhiker.
Alone In Your Car
- While walking to your car, have your door key ready in your hand as you approach. Before getting into your car, glance into the back seat and floor for someone hiding there. Get into your vehicle and lock the door behind you before settling yourself and your packages.
- Look for a well-lighted parking place and lock your car - even if you're just running into the store for a minute. Never leave your purse in your car and place your briefcase out of sight or in the trunk.
- If you must leave your key with a parking attendant or service garage, leave only your car key, never the keys to your house. These can be duplicated while you're gone.
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up most of the way, especially while in heavy traffic. Keep your purse out of sight.
- If someone tries to break into your car, honk your horn repeatedly and try to drive away if you can.
- If you are being followed, don't drive directly home. Drive to the nearest 24-hour police or fire station, hospital emergency entrance, all-night restaurant, gas station or other place where there are people.* You should not travel, especially at night, when you know you have car trouble or are low on gas.
- If your vehicle does fail, turn on your emergency flashers, raise the hood and hang a handkerchief from your window to attract attention or use a "call police" sign in the windshield. If someone stops, stay in your vehicle and ask them to call for police assistance.
- Don't leave mail or packages with labels listing your name and home address in view, inside of your car.
- Anyone living alone should use only their first initial and last name in the phone book and on the mailbox. Don't be tempted to list information about your children or your employment in any directory.
- When changing addresses, change your locks, too. Install a deadbolt lock and a high security strike plate as well as a peephole.
- Don't leave keys hidden outside. They're too easily found.
- If you suspect your home has been broken into, immediately call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's home. Don't go inside and risk confronting the burglar or destroying evidence.
- Never allow a stranger access to your home to use the phone - even if they claim it's an emergency. Speak to them through your locked door and offer to make the call for them.
- Always check the I. D. of any trades people, sales representatives, police officers or other professionals who wish to come inside your home.
- Report unusual, suspicious or obscene phone calls to the police and the phone company.
- Instruct children and babysitters not to give out any information about who is home, who is out or for how long.
- Always lock your doors, draw your shades at night and leave a few interior and exterior lights on. Timers are also a good idea.
- Windows on the first floor of a house left open while you sleep, or on any floor of an apartment with balconies, should be secured in place to allow only a six inch opening.
- Invite a friend or neighbor to visit or visit on the telephone when a repair person is in your home.
- Being selective about new acquaintances can help to prevent you from being the victim of a forcible sexual encounter sometimes referred to as a "date rape."
- If a robber demands your valuables, give them up! Your money or jewelry is not worth risking injury or your life.
- Carrying a gun or any weapon is not a good idea. It can easily be used against you.
- If you are confronted by an attacker, especially one with a weapon, stay calm. Evaluate the situation and look for a chance to escape. Think about your options.
- If you are going to fight back, don't hesitate to mark your assailant with bites, scratches or kicks. The marks can be helpful in locating and convicting the offender.
- While you are waiting for an avenue of escape, look at your attacker - one feature at a time, and make a mental note of hair, eyes, eyebrows, nose, moustache, mouth, voice, breath, age, scars, etc.
- Be vocal, if you can - shouting or screaming may catch him off guard and is likely to scare him off if there's a chance someone is nearby to hear you.
- Don't depend on talking your way out, but appearing to cooperate with your attacker may give you the time you need to devise a means of escape.
- As soon as you can, call the police and write down everything you can remember about your assailant.
- Don't change your clothing, bathe or apply any medication. Although this would be your natural reaction, don't do it. You could be destroying physical evidence that will be important in the apprehension and prosecution of your attacker.
Face to Face Confrontations
When faced with danger, trust yourself and your instincts. Your single most effective weapon is your own judgment. Rely on it to choose what you think is the best response at the time, whether it is to:
- Scream to attract attention
- Resist, distract or divert
- Negotiate with the assailant
- Do physically resist. Do verbally assert
- Do try to fight off the attacker
Protect yourself from BURGLARY
Burglary is the crime most likely to affect people of any age. Burglars look for easy targets because most are amateurs, not accomplished professionals. The amateur looks for opportunities to get valuables in the easiest possible way without being seen or heard. The easier you make it for the burglar, the more likely you are of being burglarized.
Discourage the thief by removing opportunity. By making it harder for the thief-by increasing the time it takes to forcibly enter a house and by increasing the chances of being seen or heard-crime can be discouraged.
Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the chances of your home or apartment being burglarized.
Securing Your Home
A second fundamental of burglary prevention is having good security features on your windows and doors. This section highlights some security features you should consider. The crime prevention unit ofthe SBPDcan provide you with more details and will send someone to do a "premise survey" which will pinpoint the security strengths and weaknesses of your home. The service is free and the changes recommended can usually be made at modest cost.
Amazingly, 30 to 50 percent of home and apartment burglaries happen because someone didn't lock a door or window. In the case of windows, often they were left open. The practical advice which follows doesn't do any good if you don't learn to close and lock doors and windows as a matter of habit, even if you're going to be gone only for a few minutes. Remember: a lock is not a lock unless you lock it. Many homes and apartments, particularly modern ones, have locks burglars can open with relative ease. Make sure all exterior doors are equipped with good locks. Though there are many types of locks, most law enforcement experts suggest that residential doors should be equipped with one-inch deadbolt locks. This lock can be purchased from a local locksmith or hardware store where any questions regarding its installation can also be answered.
An inside chain guard is no substitute for a proper lock. If you have difficulty identifying visitors without opening the door, a wide-angle peephole can be installed in the door. It is far better than a chain guard.
Doors and Casings
The best exterior door for a home or apartment is solid wood. Hollow-core doors are too fragile and should never be used for the exterior of a home or apartment. Your local crime prevention staff can evaluate your doors and make recommendations.
There are ways of strengthening less-than-adequate doors at modest expense. For example, if a door has a large piece of glass in it, you can install a metal grill, or substitute unbreakable plastic. A chain is only as good as its weakest link, so consider strengthening the casings around your exterior doors and the hinges that attach the door to the casing. Otherwise, a swift shove could open your door by breaking the hinges or the casing. Remember that a side or back door, being less visible, may be subjected to a stronger attack than your front door. Good security is important for all exterior doors on every home and apartment.
Sliding glass doors in homes and apartments are a particular security problem because they can be forced open easily. To prevent forced sliding, have special locks installed; or place a broomstick or piece of wood in the track and simply slip it out when you want to open the door from the inside; or mount a Charley bar which folds down from the side for the same purpose. It's not difficult to pry these doors from their tracks. To prevent that, insert a couple of sheet metal screws through the upper track in to the frame with their heads protruding far enough so that the door just clears.
Most windows come equipped with locks. Remember to lock windows, especially when leaving, even if only for a short time. Because many window locks do not provide ideal security, it's a good idea to supplement them. Special locks are available to provide extra security for various types of windows. In addition, here are some inexpensive techniques:
- For windows that slide sideways, use the same broomstick method described for sliding doors.
- Install a wood block in the track of the window frame to prevent the window from being opened more than the few inches required for ventilation.
- For traditional, double-hung windows, drill a small hole at a slight downward angle through the first sash and into but not through the second (back) sash. Then slip a large nail into the hole.
Outside Your Home
Good visibility will discourage any potential burglar. Standard exterior lighting is important, and in some cases additional lighting may be required to ensure security, particularly at back or side doors. Even landscaping may require some attention. Heavy landscaping can provide a welcome screen for an intruder. If entrances and the windows are hidden from view, additional pruning or transplanting may be necessary.
Don't leave "hidden" house keys nearby. Most hiding spots are well-known to burglars.
Make sure the mail box is large enough to totally conceal mail, or better yet, install a slot in the door. Uncollected mail suggests no one is home.
Ladders should be kept inside to prevent use in reaching high windows.
In an attached garage, make sure the connecting entrance is secured as tightly as the front door. A door from the garage into the house is often the easiest point of entry for a burglar. A solid door with a one inch deadbolt lock should be used.
Persons living in apartments or retirement facilities may not be able to implement some of these suggestions themselves. However, talk to the manager about a specific plan to upgrade security in your building. It probably will be more effective to approach the manager with other tenants together with a representative from the police department. Official security standards have been adopted in some areas and should be of assistance.
When You’re Away
During extended vacations, overnight trips or short walks, make sure your home looks lived-in.
- Try to keep your garage door closed at all times so no one can see when your car is away or what items you have in the garage.
- Either purchase an automatic timer or recruit a trusted neighbor to turn lights on at dusk and off at your usual bedtime. Vary the lights to be turned on and occasionally have the radio turned on.
- Ask a neighbor to close your drapes at night and pick up your newspaper and mail. Never tell your newsboy that you will be gone. Cancel your paper rather than entering a "vacation stop".
- For longer absences ask the SBPD to keep an eye on your place. This is another free police service.
- If you are associated with a group tour see that your travel plans are not announced by the news media.
Protect yourself from IDENTITY THEFT
CITIZEN'S GUIDE TO PROTECTING AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT
Seal Beach Police Officers work to protect the lives and property of those who live and work in our community along with those who come to visit. The information age and advanced technologies have presented new challenges: protecting people from the theft of their identity.
Identity theft occurs when someone willfully obtains the identity of another and uses it for unlawful purposes. Most often, that purpose involves economic gain for them and results in severe hardships for the victim. Each year, approximately 10 million people in the United States are victims of identity theft. Losses run into the $50 billion for businesses and consumers. It is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, and law enforcement is positioning itself to meet the challenge.
Fortunately, there is a lot that each of us can do to protect ourselves from identity theft. This brochure is designed to provide you with facts and tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim.
We strongly encourage you to take the time to read this brochure and to follow the suggestions. The actions you take now may help keep you from becoming the victim of one of the most destructive of all property crimes - identity theft.
IDENTITY THEFT DEFINED
Identity theft is the crime of acquiring all or pieces of someone else's identifying information and using it to commit fraud. This can include your name, address, date of birth, social security number (SSN), financial account numbers and other information. With this information a criminal can commit numerous forms of fraud both against you and others while using your identity. The California law PC 530.5 was enacted in 1998 making identity theft a crime.
COMMON METHODS OF IDENTITY THEFT
- Stealing mail from mailboxes to obtain credit cards, written and blank checks, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, financial or tax information.
- Stealing wallets, purses or portable computers.
- "Dumpster diving" in your trash for receipts, forms, applications and personal information.
- Obtaining names, SSNs and account numbers from personnel, medical or customer files in the workplace (e.g., open files, applications or payroll stubs).
- Posing as a landlord, employer, or loan officer to get a copy of your credit history.
- "Shoulder surfing" at ATM machines and phone booths for PIN and phone numbers.
- Searching internet sites that list public records or use fee-based research services.
PREVENTION TIPS & TECHNIQUES
While you cannot completely prevent identity theft, you can reduce the risk of fraud by taking a few precautions every day. This may mean a change in handling your bills, accounts and personal information.
One of the most important things you can do is check your credit report at least once a year (see other side for details). You can catch fraud early by checking your credit report regularly. Below are some other easy steps to consider.
- Do not carry your social security card, birth certificate, or passport with you unless you need it for a specific reason. Leave them home.
- Do not share your social security number over the phone unless you are certain about the company or government agency you are speaking with.
- Do not print your driver license or social security number or let others write it on your checks.
- Do not carry more than two credit cards. Always take credit /debit card receipts with you. Never throw them in a public trash can.
- Reduce the number of personal checks you write. Use cash, credit or debit cards and online banking services.
- Make a list or photocopy of all your credit cards and keep this is a safe, secure place.
- Shred unused pre-approved credit card offers and applications, all receipts, bills, statements and other financial records. Secure records in a locked location.
- Do not leave bill payments or checks in your home mailbox for the postal carrier to pick up, especially with the little red flag up. This is an invitation to a thief. Mail bills and checks only at a post office.
- If you are missing a credit card or other bill, or it appears overdue, a thief may have filed a change of address with the post office or the creditor. Call the creditor to verify your address with them. Ask the creditor to check if additional cards were requested. Call the post office to check on any change of address request.
- Cancel your unused credit cards. Limit the number of open credit accounts you have.
- Never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and have a trusted business relationship with the person.
- Never reply to email messages or Internet Web sites linked from an email asking you for account, personal or credit card information.
- Delete unsolicited email "spam" as many are scams to get a reply or to get your info and IP address. Do not click "unsubscribe;" just delete it. Many Internet services now provide email filters that block spam mail. Make sure these filters are installed.
- If you shop online, only use a secure browser connection (look for https in the browser address) or place your order by phone or mail.
- Check your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to confirm no one else is using your number.
- Consider getting an unlisted home phone number and, if listed, avoid using professional titles which make you a target (e.g., Dr., M.D., Atty., Ph.D., etc.).
- When making new passwords, avoid using easily guessed ones, like your birthday or social security number or your name. Never carry a list of passwords with you.
- When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank instead of having them mailed to your home.
- Shield the keypad when at an ATM, POS terminal or when using a phone calling card.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF ID THEFT
You must act quickly after learning you are a victim of identity theft or fraud. Even if there is no direct loss, fraudulent use of your information can devastate your credit file. This can prevent your use of your own credit or access to bank funds and accounts. Take steps to reduce future loss.
- Keep a log or chronology of the date, time and substance of all correspondence, people, companies and telephone conversations related to your identity theft or financial fraud.
- File a police report. Keep the report number and obtain a copy of the report. You may need both to verify the crime for creditors.
CREDIT BUREAUS AND OTHER RESOURCES
Only one call is needed to report fraud to all three bureaus. However, it's best to call all three and ask that your file be flagged with a fraud alert and add a victim's or consumer statement to your report. You can get one free report per year.
- Ask the credit bureaus for the names of credit grantors where fraudulent accounts are opened. Ask that the related inquires be removed due to the fraudulent access.
- Ask the credit bureaus to notify anyone that has received your credit report in the last six months and alert them to any disputed or fraudulent information.
- Opt out of pre-approved credit offers by contacting www.the-dma.org or calling 888.567.8688. You can request to be removed from offer mailing and calling lists.
Contact all creditors immediately where your name has been fraudulently used and accounts opened. Dispute any charges in writing. You may need to fill out a fraud affidavit and other forms.
If your checks or account information have been stolen or your bank account information used fraudulently, report it to the bank. Put a stop on the checks in question and have the bank close your accounts and open new ones. Have the bank set up a password for the new accounts.
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
Call SSA and report the fraudulent use. Only as a last resort have your SSN number changed. Log on at www.ssa.gov or call 800.772.1213.
If someone uses your driver license info to write fraudulent checks you may need to change your number. Contact the DMV and put an alert on your number (www.dmv.ca.gov). You may need to go to your local DMV office and file a complaint form so an investigation can be authorized.
POSTAL FRAUD OR CHANGE OF ADDRESS
One method of identity theft is to send your mail to another address. This allows the thief to intercept your personal information as it arrives in the mail. If this happens call the local Postmaster. Find where your mail is going and notify Postal Inspectors of the related office. Visit the Web for more info www.usps.com/postalinspectors.
ONLINE CONTACTS & RESOURCES
CA Dept. of Consumer Affairs - www.privacy.ca.gov
CA Atty General - www.caag.state.ca.us/idtheft/index.htm
Federal Trade Commission - www.ftc.gov