Keeping Yourself Safe
Each of us is responsible for our own personal safety. The best defense is prevention; you can protect yourself by using common sense, as well as thinking and acting wisely and responsibly. Be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts and always have a plan.
Personal Safety Checklist
- Carry a cell phone and make sure it’s charged.
- Tell people where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Wear reflective clothing while exercising outdoors.
- Lock your car doors.
- Stay on well-lighted, well-traveled streets.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Try to use automated teller machines in the daylight, and have your card in hand.
- Carry your purse or bag close to your body.
- If you leave work after dark, ask someone (a coworker or security guard) to walk you to your car.
- If you need help, yell and call 911 on your cell phone.
- Be alert to your surroundings when getting in and out of your car.
- Keep your car in good running condition.
- When driving, keep your doors locked.
- If you think someone is following you, don’t head home. Drive to the nearest open business, police or fire station and call 911. Tell the dispatcher where you are located and where you are headed.
- Avoid parking in isolated areas with little traffic and be alert in parking garages.
- Don’t leave packages or other valuables on the seats of your car.
- Have your keys in hand before you approach your vehicle.
Running and Walking Safety
- Run with a partner or a dog.
- Don’t wear headphones.
- Run where the light is good, know your route and avoid isolated areas.
- Carry your cell phone and make sure it’s charged.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Shopping Safety Tips
Criminals are also "shopping" when you are; be sure to stay alert when rushing from store to store. Boise Police urge shoppers to follow these safety tips, regardless of where you shop, to keep your shopping trip a safe one
- Park in well-lit areas close to your destination.
- Be mindful of your surroundings and the things you're carrying. Don't overload yourself with packages or become distracted by your cell phone.
- If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other. Select a central meeting place and teach them to ask store personnel or security for help if they need it.
- Pick restrooms in well-lit and well-trafficked areas. Always accompany children to the restroom.
- Always know where the closest exit is located in case of fire or another emergency.
- Carry you purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front pocket.
- Carry only the cash or credit cards you will need on a particular day. Don’t display large amounts of cash.
- Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat before getting in.
- Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or take them directly home.
Online Shopping Safety
Convenience, good deals and a variety of products are all benefits of shopping online. Before you start making purchases, be cyber smart and make your online sales experience a safe one.
- Shop with companies you know: If you are using a new website for purchases, read reviews and see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the site. Be sure to also read return and other polices so you know what to expect if the purchase doesn’t go as planned.
- Do not respond to unsolicited/phishing emails: Links in emails, posts and texts are often the ways cyber criminals try to steal your information or infect your devices with viruses. When in doubt, delete.
- Public WiFi: Remember, public WiFi isn’t secure; limit the type of business you conduct over open public WiFi connections, including logging on to key accounts, such as email and banking.
- Keep personal information private: When making a purchase online, be alert to the kinds of information being collected to complete the transaction. Make sure you think it is necessary for the vendor to request that information. Remember, you only need to fill out required (usually indicated by "*") fields at checkout.
- Use safe payment options: Credit cards are generally the safest option; your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them.
- Protect your money: Make sure to use security enabled websites. Look for web addresses with “https” or the lock icon in the address line, indicating extra measures to help secure your information.
- Different account, different passwords: Having separate passwords for every account helps to keep your accounts safe. Use strong passwords with a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and other characters. Avoid using a birthday or portions of your Social Security number.
- Secure your computer: Make sure you have anti-virus software and use your computer’s firewalls to prevent viruses and intrusions.
- Save all transaction information: Be sure to save information exchanged in the sale, including e-mails and records of any phone conversations.
Gym and Locker Room Safety
Leaving personal items unsecured while we visit the gym or any fitness facility is never a good idea, and can lead to being a victim of theft. Unlocked personal items like clothing may disappear, but other more serious ramifications may follow such as loss of car keys, loss of cash, loss of irreplaceable items, and worst of all, loss of identity. Identity theft is one of the most devastating scams you can fall victim to.
Practice good safety habits while visiting the gym and utilize the best prevention tool by always using a good solid lock on any locker; even when stepping away for just a moment, lock it up and stay safe!
Always lock your vehicle, keep valuables out of plain view or take valuables with you. No parking lot is exempt from criminals trying to break into cars, and especially at athletic facilities where we tend to leave more valuables in our car than take them with us into the gym. Don’t’ give the criminal an easy opportunity.
When a disaster strikes, the scam artists will not be too far behind. Playing off of our desire to help others in need, scammers will call representing bogus charities asking for donations. Unfortunately, the money you give will never go to those who need it.
If you are donating money to a charity:
- Donate to a charity you know and trust
- Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau
- Never send cash
- Don’t give out financial information unless you know the charity is reputable.
You answer your phone. The voice on the line says, “Grandma”. You attempt to recognize the voice. “Billy? Is that you?”
This is how a typical Grandparents call scam would start. The scammer will use the phone book or other resources that publish land lines to pick phone numbers to call. Once you answer with a name of a grandchild, they will give you a story ranging from being broken down on a trip and needing money for car repairs, to having been arrested and needing money to bail out of jail. Sometimes they will hand the phone to another person posing as a repair person or attorney, to avoid having you realize you are not talking to your grandchild. They will request you not tell their mom or dad for fear of additional trouble. They will then ask you to wire money.
To avoid being a victim, hang up the phone and always confirm with other family members if “Billy” really is in trouble.
IRS and Tax Scams
Scammers will call you up and claim to be with the IRS. They will give you a fake name and IRS badge number. The caller may even be able to provide some of your personal information. They will claim you are entitled to a large refund or you owe money immediately. They may even threaten that law enforcement will be at your house within the hour if you do not agree to pay.
The IRS will always send notification in writing of any taxes due. They will never request payment information, such as credit card, debit card, or pre-paid card numbers over the telephone.
Per the IRS, if you think you may owe taxes, call 1-800-829-1040 and an IRS employee can help you.
In a lottery scam you will receive a call saying you’ve won the grand prize, usually hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. All you have to do is pay a small processing fee or tax amount to claim your prize. The caller will often tell you to wire the fee or provide them with a pre-paid credit card. They advise you that once they receive payment, they will send you your lottery winnings. But the check will never arrive and the victim will be out the money.
To avoid falling victim, remember if you didn’t play, you can’t win. Also remember that if you’re told you have to pay a fee to collect a prize, you haven’t won anything.
Tech Support Scams
Scam artists will call you and try to break into your computer. The caller will state they are with a well-known company like Microsoft, claiming they have detected viruses or other malware on your computer. They ask you to give them remote access to your computer, or request sensitive information, like passwords. Once access is obtained they will download malicious software to your computer that steals sensitive data, like your financial data and other personal information. They may also ask for credit card information to bill you for the phony services.
Microsoft and other companies will not call you to charge you for computer security or software fixes. To avoid being a victim, hang up and call the company yourself. Never reveal your passwords, pin numbers, or other sensitive information over the phone.
Utilities and Services Scams
You receive a phone call from someone stating they are with the power company. They claim you are behind on your bill. You must pay immediately or they will shut off your power. They then ask you to go to the store and purchase a prepaid credit card. They will call back later to obtain the number. Instead of demanding a prepaid card, they may also ask for personal information and credit card numbers.
Be skeptical of those calling and demanding payment without being able to provide you with information only the utility company would know, your account number for example. To avoid being a victim, the utility company and verify. Use official company sites to pay your bill on-line.
Warrants and Fines Scam
In a warrant or fine scam, the scammer will call up and claim to be with local law enforcement. They will demand immediate payment for traffic tickets or for an existing warrant in lieu of being arrested. The person will be directed to purchase a pre-paid credit card. The scammer will then call back to get the payment information.
To avoid being a victim, hang up immediately and contact law enforcement. A legitimate law enforcement agency would not call and demand money to avoid arrest or for any other circumstances.
Phishing on Email and Social Networks
Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individual to a fraudulent website or message that appears legitimate; however, any personal information you provide, such as account number and personal identification number (PIN), will be stolen.
Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed website. A spoofed website is a fake site or copy of a real website that is designed to mislead the recipient into providing personal information.
Consumers are encouraged to beware of bargain e-mails advertising one day only promotions for recognized brands or websites. Fraudsters often use the hot items of the season to lure bargain hunters into providing credit card information. The old adage, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," is a good barometer to use to legitimize e-mails.
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