IT CAN HAPPEN TO ‘ME’
I have written in these columns before: “What can I do to keep from being a crime victim?” In today’s world it’s a question we should ALL be asking ourselves.
I’ve been the victim of crimes. There was the assault caused by a drunk that didn’t want to go to jail. There was the burglary of my 4X4 that I left parked on the street. The only thing taken was the VIN tab off my dash. It’s surely occupying the same position in a stolen 4X4 somewhere. Then there was the identity theft and abuse of my debit card in a state far away. Thank you VISA for your assistance.
Family members have been the victims of crimes. My mother lost most of her jewelry when she checked her baggage onto an airline headed to Kansas City. My step-father was almost bilked out of his savings from a telephone scam. Another relative had her credit card abused to the tune of more than $700.00. Fortunately the good people at Columbia Bank and Capital One came to the rescue in the last two cases. We photographed and valuated the remainder of my mother’s jewelry, just a little late for most of it.
OK, there are a hundred different crimes and a hundred things to do that will help protect yourself. Let’s reduce it down to one or two three MOST important things.
1. I’m convinced that the single most important thing to do, to prevent you from being a crime victim, is to ABSOLUTELY positively convince yourself that you can be the victim of a crime. First you MUST understand and BELIEVE that it can happen to you before you will take positive steps to protect yourself. Until you believe that you are vulnerable to crime will you begin to protect yourself. Repeat after me: “It Can Happen to Me.”
2. Sign up or subscribe to the security services available to you through your bank or credit unions. Many are free for the asking. The more I hear of identity thefts, the more I hear that financial institutions are competitively trying to provide security for their customers. My bank sends me a text anytime their debit card is used without being swiped: Amazon, online purchases, etc. If your bank doesn’t offer such services, switch banks or subscribe to the security companies that sell such identity security. Expensive? The number one thing lost in a burglary or identity theft is not money or property, it’s the sense of loss of privacy and security that the violation causes.
3. Check your balances and transactions often, regardless of whatever financial security you have acquired or bought. No one cares more about your finances or credit history than you. Have the phone numbers to the fraud units inside your financial institutions saved on your cell phone. If you find an abuse, call them immediately.
4. Notify law enforcement of the abuse but don’t expect apprehension or prosecution. It’s likely that identity theft will happen in another state or country. None of the local prosecutors are going to send investigators to distant places for credit card abuse.
5. Form a communication link-up with your friends and relatives. Pass on information about phone scams or other abuse so they will be aware of the possibility of receiving similar scams.
6. Attend a crime prevention workshop offered by the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office to learn of other ways to protect yourself. The next one is on April 19th at 6:00 PM at the Naples Firehouse. Look forward to seeing you.