Issue 24

Combating Holiday Crime

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Tomorrow is "Black Friday" - supposedly the biggest shopping day of the year.  It is also the "opening day" for the criminal element to ramp up their efforts to separate you from your goods or cash.

Remember, the criminal efforts are not restricted to brick-and-mortar stores - the online criminals and identity thieves are especially busy this time of year.

What are the characteristics of a criminal?  In general, some of their traits are:
  • Constantly seeking low-risk criminal opportunities
  • Overconfidence in their ability to "scam" the system
  • Masking themselves with a facade of conformity (blending in to appear non-threatening and innocent)
Obviously, they have a plan.  Do you?

The following are just a few of the suggestions and techniques taught in our Refuse To Be A Victim and Defensive Sprays and Stunning Devices workshops -

Online Crime

If you only follow these three suggestions, you will eliminate the vast majority of online scam vulnerabilities:

Never provide personal information over the phone unless you called a phone number you are absolutely certain is a valid number.  No legitimate business will contact you asking for PINs, codes or passwords - they already have that information!

Don't click email links unless they're from vendors you authorized to send you online coupons or offers.

Never enter credit card numbers or other personal information online unless the website page you're entering the information is secure - https:// versus http://

Local Crime

When approaching your car in the parking lot, try to always have one hand free at all times.  Be sure to check the interior of your car before entering.  If you have any concerns whatsoever (i.e., it's dark or you feel uneasy), get an escort from store security.

Have your pepper spray on a lanyard on your wrist.  To most people, it will just look like a key ring, and won't draw undue attention.  It puts your defensive tool close-at-hand.

Don't shop alone.  Bring a friend!  There really is strength in numbers.

At ATMs or Debit card terminals in a store, be sure to shield the keypad as you're entering your PIN.  If someone is able to get your code, you now become a valuable target to have your wallet or purse stolen.

Don't enter your home if there is any indication that someone may have broken in.  Immediately exit the home, get back into your car, lock the doors, DRIVE AWAY and call the police.

When you leave your home, and when you go to bed, for goodness sake, lock your doors and windows, and set an alarm if you have one.  They're there for a reason!

Install outdoor lighting, preferably with motion sensors.  Criminals hate light!

If you've made purchases online, home deliveries can be a huge vulnerability.  Always use your peep hole to view the visitor and hopefully their delivery truck.

If not expecting packages, look through the peep hole and reply to the visitor by talking through the door.  Ask, "Who's there?"  This lets them know someone is home (making it a high-risk target).  Remember:  This is YOUR home - you get to set the rules about who is allowed to enter and how they are greeted.

Women are especially vulnerable to visitors.  Rightly or wrongly, women are perceived to be an easier target.  They may request to speak to your husband.  Never let them know you're alone - tell them he's taking a nap, and you're still not interested.  If they do not leave, call the police immediately.

By taking these very simple and practical steps, you can help ensure your Christmas or other holiday season is a happy one.

Next Issue:  Reality-based Training


Bison Risk Management Associates is a Northern California-based company providing Personal Safety and Emergency Preparedness training, workshops and consulting for individuals, businesses and organizations.

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