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Crime Prevention

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Crime Prevention Safety Tips

Many people are victims of crime. Often times, there are steps that people can take to protect themselves and reduce the risk that they will become victimized. The following are crime prevention tips for residents and visitors to adopt to protect themselves and their property from theft or damage.

ATM Precautions

Because of the variety of ATMs, the unique characteristics of each installation, and crime considerations at each location, no single formula can guarantee the security of ATM customers. Therefore, it is necessary for ATM customers to consider the environment around each ATM and various procedures for remaining safe when using an ATM.

Criminals select their victims and targets, focusing on the unaware or unprepared. Criminals are also drawn to environmental conditions that enhance the opportunity to successfully complete their crime. The attitude and demeanor you convey can have a tremendous effect on potential assailants. There are a number of things you can do to increase your personal security and reduce your risk of becoming an ATM crime victim.

The following crime prevention tips can help make the use of ATM’s safer for everyone:
Walk purposefully and with confidence. Give the appearance that you are totally aware of your surroundings.

  • Be aware of your environment and what is going on around you. Criminals tend to avoid people who have this type of demeanor.
  • Perform mental exercises and plan out what you would do in different crime or personal security situations.
  • Follow your instincts. If you feel you are in danger, respond immediately. Remember that your personal safety is the top priority.
Cyber Safety
Craigslist Rentals

Are you in the market for a new place to live and dealing with a realtor seems to be out of the question? Where do you turn? A lot of people think that Craigslist holds many great opportunities for low cost rental properties. But before you begin your search or sign on the dotted line, be aware that there are many unscrupulous people using Craigslist, posing as rental agents, just to get your personal and financial information. The number of fake rental scams on Craigslist and other online classifieds continues to grow, with new aliases appearing daily. But while the names may change, the methods are always the same. Don’t believe these ads appear only on Craigslist. They could show up anywhere! These thieves, mainly based in Nigeria, the U.K. and the U.S., are out to steal your money and your identity. However, the scammers could be in your own back yard.

The Better Business Bureau advises to be on the lookout for the following for avoiding Craigslist apartment rental scams:

  • The email addresses they use usually are from yahoo, ymail, rocketmail, fastermail, live, hotmail and gmail, and they also post ads under anonymous craigslist addresses. They frequently change their aliases.
  • The deal sounds too good to be true. Scammers will often list a rental for a very low price to lure in victims. Find out how comparable listings are priced, and if the rental comes in suspiciously low, walk away.
  • They use photos stolen from other property advertisements or from home furnishing catalogues or hotel websites.
  • They use fake names, often stolen from Facebook profiles or networking sites. Often they assume the identities of previous victims.
  • What they all have in common is that sooner or later you get a request to transfer funds via Western Union, Moneygram or some other wire service. 
  • Never under any circumstances, wire money at the request of any prospective “landlord” via Western Union, Money Gram or any other wire service. Even if they tell you to wire the funds to a friend or relative’s name “to be safe,” it’s a trap!
  • Always check bbb.org to see if the “company” has any complaints.

 

Using Public Computers
  • Be careful using the internet for private communication (including shopping) on computers that are in public locations or used by other people.
  • On a public computer, other people might be able to view what you've been browsing or even retrieve your personal details after you have finished.
  • People you don't know could simply be watching over your shoulder (very dangerous if you are shopping online).
  • The computer could have a keystroke logger, which is a program that records what you type.
  • Use a combination of words, letters and symbols in your passwords - try to use at least 16 characters in a 'pass phrase', ie. a sentence rather than a word, to make it hard for someone to 'crack' your password with the help of a computer program.
 Chat Sites
  • Chat sites or forums are OK if they are about sharing information about an everyday hobby or interest. It's best to avoid chats or forums which deal with people's personal issues or problems.
  • Always remember that you do not know most of the people, and they can be someone completely different online.
  • Never get into 'flaming' someone else on an online forum (ie. insulting them or getting into heated arguments) – you might find that it escalates into more serious harassment.
  • Be very careful if you want to meet someone you have met online. The person might not be who they say they are.
  • Plan to meet in a neutral place, like a cafe. Don't give out your full name or home address.
Cyber Safety for Parents 
  • Keep the computer in a common area, such as the family or living room. This helps you monitor your child's computer use.
  • Spend time with your child online, and talk to them about their Internet use. Ask to see their profile page(s). Many children have more than one profile. Google your child's name.
  • Know your child's screen names and passwords. Ask your child to add you as a "friend" on his/her profile page.
  • Limit the information allowed in online profiles and make sure profiles are set to private.
  • Control access to chat rooms and Instant Messaging. Monitor the sites they are visiting by clicking the internet browser's History button.
  • Teach children to avoid risky behavior, such as maintaining buddy lists that include strangers, flirting or discussing sex online with people they do not know in person, posting sexually suggestive material or being rude or mean to someone online.
  • Teach children to Stop, Block and Tell if they are bullied or made to feel uncomfortable online. (source Wired Safety)
  • Remind children that computer use is not confidential.
    Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Some basic safety rules you should include in your agreement:

    • Never give out personal information (name, age, address, phone) or use a credit card online without permission.
    • Never share passwords with anyone, including friends. Never arrange to meet in person someone they met online unless you agree and go with them.
    • Never reply to a bully or any other uncomfortable messages they receive online. Agree upon the consequences for not following the rules or breaking the agreement. It can be helpful to write down the rules and agreements in the form of a contract.
Cyber Safety for Kids
  • Don't share your password - even with your best friend.
  • Know who your friends are! Make sure you know someone in person before you add them to your "friends" list.
  • Don't post anything you wouldn't want your grandmother to see.
  • What you post online stays online--forever--so think before you post.
  • Pay attention to how you are communicating. Don't say anything online you wouldn't say in person.
  • Don't be rude online.
  • Protect your privacy and your friends' privacy too...get their permission before posting something about them.
  • Check what your friends are posting or saying about you. Even if you are careful, they may be putting you at risk.
  • Don't take, keep, or send nude or partial nude pictures of yourself or others. You could be prosecuted for creating or distributing child pornography if you possess or send nude or partial nude pictures of someone under the age of 18. One teen from Florida was prosecuted and had to register as a sex offender after forwarding a nude picture of his exgirlfriend to her family and friends.
  • Don’t hang around online places where people could treat you badly.
  • That cute 16-year old boy may not be cute, may not be 16, and may not be a boy! You never know!
  • Tell a trusted adult if someone does or says something online that makes you feel uncomfortable. 
    and, unless you’re prepared to attach your Facebook page to your college/job/internship/scholarship or sports team application, don’t post it publicly!
  • Don’t become an addict. The key to becoming the well-rounded and interesting person you.
Online Shopping
  • Don't give your personal information unless you are absolutely sure that it is safe. This means where possible, not giving out your full name, your address, your phone number, your credit card number, your tax file number, or information on your family and friends.
  • If you have to give a name to register or login to a forum or for some other online purpose, use a nickname or alias where possible.
  • Sometimes you'll want to give personal details, including your credit card number, for shopping on the net. This is OK, as long as the online seller is reputable and has secure shopping facilities.
  • Secure shopping means that they use secure servers which receive and store your personal information in encrypted form, so that if anyone intercepts your transaction, they won't be able to decode the data and get your details.
  • Secure site pages will have addresses starting with 'https' rather than 'http' (eg. you might browse around their site on unsecured pages, and then when you are ready to make a purchase, you'll be switched to secured pages).
Fraud Considerations
  • Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not write it down or keep it in your wallet or purse. Do not tell anyone else your PIN NUMBER!! (including bank employees, the police, etc.)
  • Shield the ATM keypad from anyone who may be standing or parked nearby or anyone crowding you in an attempt to view your PIN and/or transaction. Use your body as a shield if necessary while you enter your access code. 
  • Make sure you retain your transaction receipt. Do not throw the receipt away at the ATM site
    The National Consumers League has opened a toll-free number to provide information on ATM frauds and scams.
  • The National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060 employs counselors who will refer consumers to the proper agency for reporting a fraud or scam. 
  • Immediately report any stolen or lost ATM card to the proper entities.
Fraud Prevention Checklist
Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime where a criminal assumes someone else's identity for profit. It is becoming increasingly common in developed countries, especially the U.S. There is a multitude of ways your identity can be stolen. Identity Theft Checklist. A few are listed below:

  • Bank Statements
  • Discarded Credit Card & ATM Receipts
  • Falsely Obtained Credit Reports 
  • Pre-approved Credit Card Applications
  • Stolen Mail
  • Theft of a Wallet or Purse, Credit Cards, Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Passport
  • Internet Websites
Tips to Help Prevent Identity Theft
  • Shred sensitive documents with a personal shredder. Shredders with diamond cuts are best 
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone
  • Do not routinely carry your social security card or birth certificate in your wallet or purse.
  • Disclose your social security number ONLY when absolutely necessary.
  • Change your driver’s license number to a randomly assigned “S” number.
  • Contact card carriers (such as health insurance) who use your social security number as identification and ask if they can use a different identification number.
  • Carry ONLY those credit cards you use regularly, and cancel all unused credit cards.
  • Keep an accurate list of all credit cards and bank accounts including name, mailing address and telephone number of creditor, the account number, and expiration date. Update the list regularly and keep it in a secure place.
  • Closely review all credit card statements each month to detect unusual activity or unauthorized charges.
  • Destroy pre-approved credit card solicitations, contact all three major credit-reporting bureaus in writing and “opt-out” of pre-screening lists.
  • As a South Carolina resident, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year. Exercise this right, and check your credit report closely for accuracy.
  • Do not use your year of birth or other easily identifiable code as a password or PIN for credit cards or ATM machines.
  • Do not allow others to closely view you as you enter your password or PIN.
  • Destroy all credit card and ATM receipts, do not discard them in banks or retail establishments. 
    If you suspect that your mail is being stolen or tampered with, contact your local post office or postal inspector.
  • Never give your PIN number out to someone over the telephone, even if they say that they work for the bank or financial company in question.
  • Use encryption software when transferring personal identifying information over the Internet. 
    Be very cautious about sending personal identifying information over the Internet.

 

Larceny Prevention

People often leave their belongings unattended and realize they have been stolen as they are leaving establishments. Cambridge Police are encouraging residents and students to take the following precautions to protect their belongings to avoid becoming victims of larcenies:

  • While dining out, do not place your purse or jacket over the back of your chair. Keep your purse on your lap or between your feet with the handle around the leg of your chair or your foot.
  • Do not leave a cell phone, laptop, or tablet unattended on your table.
  • When shopping, do not leave your purse or wallet unattended.
  • At work, put your purse or wallet in a drawer. Do not leave it on or under a desk.
  • Always keep your purse closed.
  • Do not keep your Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) in your purse or wallet.
    Keep a list of all credit and ID cards at home along with the card number and customer service phone number in the event you need to close the account due to theft.

Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention

Prevent Thefts from Your Motor Vehicle:

  • Roll up windows and lock all doors.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Always be aware of the area you are parking in.
  • Hide all valuables out of view. If you can see them from outside the vehicle, so can thieves.
    The trunk of your car is a great spot to place valuables.

Street Awareness
Situation Awareness
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.
  • When parking, walking or returning to your car, travel in well-lit and populated areas.
  • Wear sneakers or shoes that allow for added mobility.
  • Be watchful and aware. Keep your head up. Make quick eye contact with those around you and be observant of passing vehicles. Don’t become distracted by talking on a cell phone or listening to an iPod/similar device.
  • Avoid walking alone late at night. Walk with friends and people you know.
  • Keep a whistle within reach. If threatened, use the whistle to signal residents for help. Yelling “Fire!” “Help!” or “Rape!” are ways of drawing attention and alerting people of your situation.
  • Hold your car keys in your hand to use as a weapon against an attacker.
  • Carry a cell phone and call ahead to your destination to alert them that you’re on the way. Make sure you’re expected at a certain time, so in the event you fail to show up, those expecting you will know enough to begin looking for you.
  • Walk with confidence. Don’t let anyone violate your space. Trust your instincts. Anyone at anytime can be a victim of crime so never assume, “IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME.”
  • If an unarmed attacker confronts you, believe in your ability to defend, distract, or even incapacitate the attacker enough to escape.
  • If you think that someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk towards an open store, restaurant or residence.
If you are being followed:
  • Show you are suspicious and turn to look at the person. It sends a clear message that you will not be taken by surprise.
  • Change directions. If someone is following you on foot, cross the street and vary your pace. If the person following you is in a car, turn and walk in the opposite direction.
  • Go into the nearest store or public place. If the person follows you, ask to use (or find) a phone and call for help. If there isn't a store or public area nearby, keep moving. If you have to scream (or blow your whistle) to draw attention to your situation, do it.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts. If you think you are in an area you should not be, you probably are.
  • Know where you're going and the safest way to get there, particularly when moving about the city during hours of darkness. Walk/run in well-traveled, well-lit areas avoiding short cuts through alleys and parking lots.
  • Have a plan of action in mind. Decide where you would go and what you would do should some dangerous situation occur. Know where the nearest police/fire station is located, how to contact the police in the event of an emergency, what establishments are open late where you could seek refuge if needed, etc.
  • Walk with confidence on the street and at a good, steady pace. Keep your head up, observe your surroundings, and don't look down at the ground.
  • Carry a whistle or similar type of noisemaker. In the event of an emergency, the sound may scare off a would-be attacker.
  • Take special care when jogging or biking. Vary your route, go with a friend, and avoid isolated areas.
  • Do NOT wear headphones or listen to music. These can distract you from being aware of your surroundings and who may be approaching you.
  • Keep purses and packages tucked securely between your arms and body. Don't overload yourself with packages and bags – it is distracting and it can make you look defenseless.
  • Carry only what you need. Don't carry a large amount of cash or numerous credit cards and avoid wearing flashy and excessive amounts of jewelry.
  • Exercise caution when using ATM machines. Only use ATMs located in well lit, well trafficked areas those physically located in stores are the safest.
  • If using a transportation network company (Uber, Lift and etc.) before you ride, please make sure you're getting in the right vehicle with the correct driver by opening the app and completing 3 safety pickup tips.
  • Match the license plate number.
  • Match the car make and model.
  • Check the drivers photo. 
Taxi Safety

In order to protect yourself when using or hailing taxi cabs or livery service vehicles, North Augusta Public Safety encourages you to follow the tips below:

  • Do not get into unmarked taxi or livery cars
  • Use only licensed cabs or clearly identifiable livery service vehicles that are called to your location.
  • Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you’re headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.
  • Request your ride inside. Avoid spending unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.
  • Get in the right car. Before you get in the car, check that license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match what’s listed in the app. Most rides can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car with a driver who claims to be with livery service and offers a ride.
  • Be a backseat rider. If you’re riding alone, sit in the backseat. This ensures you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space.
  • Buckle up. The Centers for Disease Control reports that seatbelt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries related to car accidents.
  • Share your trip details with a friend. Some carriers have a sharing feature inside the app, tap “Share status” in the app to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate, and location with a friend or family member. They can track your trip and see your ETA without downloading the the available app.
  • Protect your personal information. There’s no need to share your phone number or other contact information with your driver. If a rider and driver need to contact each other, most carrier app's automatically anonymizes both phone numbers to protect everyone’s privacy.
  • Follow your intuition. Trust your instincts and use your best judgement when riding with a carrier and if you ever feel you’re in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
  • Be kind and respectful. As outlined in our community guidelines, please respect your driver and his or her car.