As part of the 61st Precinct’s pledge to increase communication with the community, the precinct has started sending out occasional crime prevention tip bulletins to local stakeholders.
The tips focus on preventing common crimes that are trending in the neighborhood to keep residents and their property safe.
Below are the latest tips from the precinct, covering identity theft, personal safety, and protecting your property from theft or vandalism.
IDENTITY THEFT CRIME PREVENTION TIPS
How to prevent becoming a Identity Theft victim:
- Shred all bills, credit card charge receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, bank statements, expired charge cards, and pre-approved credit offers before throwing them into the garbage.
- Do not provide personal information simply because someone asks for it or because it is asked for on a form, questionnaire or product registration card.
- Do not give out your social security number freely.
- Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If going on vacation, make arrangements for someone to take the mail for you or call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 and request a vacation hold for your mail.
- Never give personal information over the telephone, such as your social security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, credit card number or bank PIN number, unless you initiated the call. Don’t carry extra credit cards in your wallet or pocketbook. Cancel the ones you no longer use.
- Order credit bureau credit reports once a year to check for fraudulent activity or other discrepancies.
- Sign all new credit cards upon receiving them in the mail.
- Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bill.
- Never leave receipts at an ATM, store counter, self-serve gas pump or in trash cans. Keep track of all paperwork and destroy those you no longer need.
- Memorize your social security number and passwords. Never write them down or carry them in your wallet or pocketbook.
- Never loan anyone your credit cards.
- If a credit card you applied for doesn’t arrive in a timely fashion, notify the issuing bank. Also keep track of expiration dates on your cards. If the new card doesn’t arrive notify the issuing bank.
- Notify all banks and credit card companies of any change of address.
- When disclosing credit card, checking account or other financial data online, use caution.
- Be cautious of e-mails and instant messages that are unsolicited and request you to confirm credit card numbers, passwords or other personal information.
The credit bureaus offer a toll-free number that enables you to “opt-out” of having pre-approved credit offers sent to you for two years. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT, (567-8688) for more information. Additionally, the federal government has created the National Do Not Call Registry. To register, or get information, visit www.donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register.
What to do if you become a victim:
- Contact all creditors, by telephone and in writing, to inform them of the situation.
- Notify the police.
- Alert all banks to flag your accounts and to contact you for unusual activity. Change all passwords and PIN numbers.
- Document all contacts and keep copies of all correspondences.
- Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to have a new license number issued in your name.
- Call the nearest U.S. Postal Inspection Office.
- Call the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft hotline at 1-877-438-4338 and file a complaint.
If you are the victim of identity theft, call each credit bureau with a national database and ask to have a “Fraud Alert/Victim Impact” statement placed in your credit files. Also request that all creditors contact you before they open any new accounts in your name. The following contact information is provided to assist identity theft victims:
- Equifax www.equifax.com 1-800-685-1111
- Experian www.experian.com 1-888-397-3742
- Trans-Union www.tuc.com 1-800-916-8800
If you are a victim of check fraud, you should contact the following:
- Telecheck 1-800-710-9898
- Equifax 1-800-437-5120
SAFEGUARD YOUR VEHICLE WHILE AT THE PUMP
When you get out of your vehicle to get gas, even if paying at the pump, lock your doors, roll up your windows, and make sure you remove your keys from the ignition. While you are paying with your credit/debit card at the pump a thief can run up to the passenger side of your car, open the door, and remove your property. Thieves prey on victims who are distracted and turn their backs to the vehicle to pay at the pump. The victim does not even realize that anything is missing until they have left the gas station.
PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS
Carry purses, portfolios or briefcases in a manner that will allow you to let go. Straps placed across your shoulder, around your neck or wrapped around your waist have caused injuries because women could not free themselves during a purse snatch.
Always be aware of your surroundings and carry your pocketbook clasp toward you, close to your body, tucked in the bend of your elbow as if it were a football. If there is a long strap, wrap it around the bag.
If someone attempts to snatch your pocket book, let go of it, especially if there is a weapon involved. When dining out, the only place for your purse should be your lap. The back of a chair is an easy target for a thief. Never carry a wallet in a rear pocket; use a front trouser or an inside coat pocket.
Be particularly aware of your purse/wallet in crowded situations, such as rush-hour trains and buses. Beware of arguments or commotions designed to distract you while your pocket or purse is being picked.
Minimize the amount of money, credit cards and valuables you carry by only taking items that are necessary for the day. Divide money between your purse/wallet and pockets. Carry your keys on your person separate from your identification.
Walking – Be Street Smart
Use well-populated and well-lit streets. If you suspect you’re being followed, stay away from deserted blocks and head for an area where there are people, or to the nearest open store. If you’re driven home, ask the driver to wait until you are safely inside. Should a motorist bother you while you are walking, reverse your direction. If you are still followed, seek a safe location and yell for help, if possible.
Upon approaching your car, look to make sure no one is hiding in or around the vehicle, especially in the back seat. Check your tires for flats. Keep windows rolled up, except for a small opening for ventilation and keep the doors locked at all times.
Keep valuables secured in the trunk, not lying on the seat next to you. Put your purse on the floor of your car. Plan your route before you leave.
When stopped in traffic, always leave enough space between your car and the one in front of you. This will allow you to pass easily, if necessary. Keep your car well maintained and the gas tank at least half full to avoid getting stranded.
Should you suspect that you are being followed, make several turns down active streets. If the vehicle continues to follow, head for the nearest police station, firehouse, or open store. Avoid driving to your home. If someone attempts to force you off the road, remain calm and blow your horn continuously to attract attention. If forced off the road, stop, put your car in reverse and back away.
When Parking Your Vehicle
Park in a well-lit area to discourage a personal attack and reduce the risk of your car being stolen. Look around before exiting your car. Close all windows and lock the doors. Take any valuables with you.
Have your keys ready before you get to the door. Make sure your entrance area is well lit. If you live in an apartment, close the lobby door behind you, especially if a stranger is approaching. Make all visitors and delivery persons use the door bell. Place your name on the inside of the mailbox where only the mail carrier will see it. If a name must be on the outside, use only the last name, e.g., the Smiths.
If a stranger asks to use the phone, keep your door locked and tell them you will place the call for them. If there is an emergency, call 9-1-1. Keep him/her out of your home. Should you arrive home and find signs of a burglary, STAY OUT. Call 9-1-1 and wait for the police to arrive.
Subways and Buses
Use only entrances marked by a green indicator, where there is a clerk present 24 hours a day. Have your money or Metrocard available. Use designated waiting areas during off-peak hours. Ride in the conductor’s car during off-peak hours. Sit in the center of the car, away from the door, to avoid a purse or chain snatch.
Cover jewelry; turn stone rings toward the palm side of your hand. Stay awake and aware and exit with the crowd. Wait and walk close to the wall. Wait for the bus on the sidewalk away from the curb. Sit near the front of the bus. Be aware of your wallet/purse to avoid a pickpocket.
Be aware of suspicious people near the entrance. Use well-lit, well-populated ATM’s. Avoid ATM’s that have unlocked doors or are directly out on the street. Block a bystander’s view when doing your transaction. Use mirrors, positioned at the ATM, to see behind you. Put your money away and take your card and receipt before exiting an ATM. Your card is exclusively for your entry only. Make sure the door closes behind you.
ATM SKIMMING DEVICES
There have been reports of unauthorized debit card skimmers installed on ATMs. As ATM customers swiped their cards into the ATM, the skimmer will read the information and relay the card numbers to an unauthorized person who will then be able to make fraudulent purchases using the card information.
ATM users are advised to tug on the card reader to ensure that no unauthorized devices are installed on the machine before they swipe their cards.