Category: Tips

4 risky places to swipe your debit card

Debit cards are different

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Would you give a thief direct access to your checking account?

No? Unfortunately, you may be doing just that by regularly using your debit card. Debit cards may look identical to credit cards, but there’s one key difference. With credit cards, users who spot fraudulent charges on their bill can simply decline the charges and not pay the bill. On the other hand, debit cards draw money directly from your checking account, rather than from an intermediary such as a credit card company.

Because of that, even clear-cut cases of fraud where victims are protected from liability by consumer protection laws can cause significant hardship, says Frank Abagnale, a secure-document consultant in Washington, D.C.

He cites the example of the The TJX Companies Inc.’s T.J. Maxx data breach that exposed the payment information of thousands of customers in 2007. The incident resulted in $150 million in fraud losses, and much of it was pulled directly from customers’ bank accounts. While credit card users got their accounts straightened out and new cards in the mail within a few days, the case created major problems for debit card holders who waited an average of two to three months to get reimbursed, Abagnale says.

While debit card fraud is always a possibility, being careful where you use it can help keep your checking account balance out of the hands of criminals.

Read more: 4 Risky Places To Swipe Debit Card | Bankrate.com http://www.bankrate.com/finance/checking/risky-places-swipe-debit-card-1.aspx#ixzz20AEtVzsM

Safety Tips for Motorists in Emergencies

Safety Tips for Motorists in Emergencies

All of us suffer from it, the insatiable love affair with our automobiles. Everyday we drive the streets of America not realizing that disaster can strike at any time. But why think about an Earthquake, Hurricane, Flood, Tornado, Blizzard or the Hot Summer Heat when you are already to busy avoiding everybody else on the road with you and some how managing to talk on your cell phone, put on makeup, read the newspaper or shave. Too much to remember? What we are about to tell you is not an only needed, but if you plan on living long enough to make it to tomorrow, you not only need to remember it but you need to properly prepare yourself and your vehicle. I will be the first one to say that these disasters do not happen everyday, but when they do this following information can save your life. After almost every disaster, Search & rescue personnel find victims who might have survived if they had known whether to stay or leave their vehicles. The following tips are for drivers in various emergencies.

Rule #1

DO NOT PANIC! KEEP A COOL HEAD AND REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING:

EARTHQUAKES – Stay in your car!

Bring you vehicle to a stop as soon as safely possible. Then remain in your vehicle until the shaking has stopped. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, overpasses and utility wires. The vehicle’s suspension will absorb a majority of the shaking and will shake the vehicle violently. But this is one of the safer places to be. When the earthquake has stopped, continue cautiously, trying to avoid bridges, overpasses, elevated structures or anything that may have been damaged by the earthquake or the aftershocks that may follow.

HURRICANE – Evacuate Early!

Flooding can begin well before a hurricane nears land. Plan your evacuation early.
Keep a full tank of gas in your vehicle so you can leave when emergency personnel tell you to. Learn the best evacuation route from your home. Make arrangements with friends or relatives inland to stay at their houses during the hurricane. Never attempt to drive hurricane. Wait until the all clear is given after the storm has subsided. Flash flooding can occur after a hurricane has passed. Avoid driving on coastal and low-lying roads. Storm surge and hurricane caused flooding are erratic and may occur with little or no warning.

FLOOD – Get out of your car!

There is no way to tell how deep standing water can be so don’t drive in if you don’t know how deep the water is. Water can be much deeper than it appears, and water levels can rise quickly. Most vehicles will float dangerously for at least a short time. A car can be buoyed by floodwaters and then quickly swept downstream during a flood. If your car stalls in floodwater, get out and quickly move to higher ground. The floodwaters may still be rising, and the car could be swept away at any moment.

TORNADO – Get out of your car!

A car is the least safe place to be during a Tornado. When a warning is issued, do not attempt to leave the area by car. If you are in a car, leave it and find shelter in a building. If a tornado approaches and there is no safe structures nearby, lie flat in a ditch or other ground depression with your arms over your head.

BLIZZARD – Stay in the car!

Try to avoid driving in severe winter weather. If you are caught in a storm and your car becomes immobilized, stay in the vehicle and await rescue. Do not attempt to walk to shelter unless you can see a definite safe haven at a reasonable distance. Disorientation during a blizzard comes rapidly and being lost in the snow is exceedingly dangerous. Turn on the vehicle’s engine for brief periods to provide heat, but always leave a window open for ventilation. Carbon monoxide can be deadly. Stay warm by clapping your hands and moving around. But try to avoid overexertion and exposure from shoveling or trying too push the car. Leave the dome light on as a signal to rescuers. If you are trapped with a friend, sleep in shifts.

SUMMER HEAT – Stay out of a parked car!

During hot weather, heat build up in a closed or nearly closed vehicle can occur quickly and intensely. Children and pets can die from heat stroke in a matter of minutes when left in a closed vehicle. Never leave anyone in a parked vehicle during periods of high summer heat.

STAY INFORMED!

LISTEN to radio and television for the latest National Weather Service bulletins on severe weather for the are in which you will be driving. In the event of a disaster keep your radio or television on and await instructions. If evacuation is recommended, move quickly but calmly, following instructions as to route to be used, evacuation shelter to be sought and any other important directions.

EMERGENCY SUPPLIES

Keep them in you vehicle!

All vehicles should be equipped with emergency supplies. These supplies will vary depending on your location, climate, personal requirements and other variables. The supplies in your kit might include (but are not limited to) the following:

Blanket or Sleeping Bag
Bottled Water
Battery Booster Cables
Misc. Small Hand Tools
First Aid Kit
Flashlight
Matches – Candles
Shovel
Tire Chains
Raingear and extra clothing
Any necessary personal medications
Food: MRE’s, Canned foods, Camping Foods.

NEVER CARRY GASOLINE IN CONTAINERS OTHER THAN THE VEHICLES GAS TANK

Hopefully these items will help you to learn and understand the problems associated with disasters and disaster driving. Please contact your local Disaster Preparedness Associations for more information.

Just another reminder because it still happens…..

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Just another reminder because it still happens EVERY DAY…..

This morning our officers were dispatched to a vehicle theft. The victim left her car running in the driveway to warm up and she had her two kids in the back seat. According to a neighbor, a man in his 30’s walking by jumped in the car, backed it out of the driveway and started to drive off WITH THE TWO KIDS IN THE BACK SEAT. The suspect quickly realized there were kids in the car and luckily he abandoned the car down the street and ran off. The suspect soon found another car warming up in a driveway a few streets away and took that car which is still outstanding. This happens EVERY DAY, in EVERY CITY!

I know it’s cold in the mornings but a car with steam coming out the exhaust and no one inside is just what thieves look for. Thieves drive a stolen car for a day or two and then dump it for another one. They drive through neighborhoods in the morning looking for an easy car to steal. Doesn’t get much easier than finding a running car in the driveway or in front of a house. Sometimes it’s kids walking through a neighborhood and they find an easy ride to school. It happens EVERY DAY. I know people say “it won’t happen to me”. But keep doing this and I guarantee sooner or later it WILL happen to you. Purse or wallet in the car? Oooops. Laptop on the seat? Won’t be there when police find the car. Is the 4-5 minutes to have a warm interior worth the hour you lose calling the police and your insurance company? Maybe another hour or two renting a car? Not to mention what shape will your car be in when you get it back? Dented, scratched, cigarette burns in the seats, maybe trashed, might not ride or run as smooth as it used to. Maybe totaled. Oh Well…..

And the incident this morning with the kids left unattended in the car! Who leaves their kids unattended in a running car! Someone who thought “it won’t happen to me”. Luckily the thief didn’t want any part of kids being in the car. But what if he kept driving away? Could you imagine seeing your car drive away with your kids in the back seat? Then you call the police, we put out an Amber alert, put out a statewide BOLO for the car. What would have happened if an officer spotted the car and got into a chase with the suspect who wanted to avoid prison at any cost. Do you think he’s going to drive carefully cause kids are in the car? Nope, he’s going to drive as fast and as crazy as he can to get away. A major crash, innocent people hurt or killed including the kids in the back seat. Thank God that didn’t happen but the potential was there, simply because someone thought “it won’t happen to me”. Don’t people watch the news or read the papers? There’s been several high profile incidents involving cars being taken with kids in the back seat. And thieves don’t want to get caught in a stolen car so they rarely just pull over for the police, they usually engage in a dangerous high speed chase where officers and innocent people are endangered. And it usually ends up with tragic consequences. It’s like leaving a 4000 lb loaded gun laying around with a tragic accident just waiting to happen.    

The other morning I spotted steam coming from the exhaust of an unattended car warming up in a driveway. I waited until the owner came out of their house a few minutes later and told them they could have found their car missing when they came outside and they replied "this is a safe neighborhood, I just assume it will never happen to me".  A lot of people take chances sometimes because they feel “it won’t happen to me”. But eventually it will. You might have warmed up your unattended car 100 times without incident but the 101st time may not be so lucky. If I sound harsh it’s because this happens every day in every city during the cold and wet weather. There’s a huge increase in stolen vehicles in the wintertime from people warming up their unattended cars in the mornings. It doesn’t matter where you live, "safe neighborhood" or not, it can still happen. Thieves actually target "safe or nice neighborhoods" because they know people are careless and take chances. Then there are the people too lazy to turn off their cars at the convenience store. They go inside to buy cigarettes or beer and leave their car running in the parking lot, sometimes with kids in the car. At times I wish I could take their car and hide it for a few hours to get the point across.

I’m not one to say “I told you so” but it’s  frustrating knowing that people still do this  even after we constantly run stories about this. So if one of our readers writes in to tell us their car was stolen while it was warming up and now it’s wrecked after a police chase, don’t expect us to be very sympathetic. 

Just another reminder:

If you want to warm up your car, warm it up WITH YOU IN IT!

Cars heat up faster driving rather than idling, clear your windows and start driving slowly down the street. The car will heat up much faster. 

Never leave a car running unattended, sooner or later it WILL come up missing.

NEVER leave kids in an unattended car, running or not!

If you MUST warm up your car unattended, get a remote system installed where the car can be started with a key fob and if someone tries to take it without the key it dies.

Don’t leave keys, purses, wallets, laptops or other valuables in view in your car. Police waste a lot of time writing reports daily for crimes that could have been avoided.

Don’t take chances or you WILL become a victim of crime one day.

Lock it or Lose it!

Keep Safe,

Tis the Season

Tis the season to be cheerful, jolly and in the holiday spirit but it’s hard to be cheerful when you come home and find your home burglarized. Drawers emptied, missing electronics, jewelry, money, all your belongings gone and your house ransacked.

The poor economy has resulted in an increase of burglaries. Not a day goes by where we don’t have at least 5 or more victims calling in to report a burglary at their home. Sometimes we get dispatched to a burglary in progress but for every burglar we catch there are hundreds more roaming neighborhoods looking for a target. If you read the crime stats burglaries are on the rise and are a problem everywhere.

How they decide on a particular home is each burglar’s decision but most of the time they are not alone. One of them will ring a doorbell and if someone answers, they ask for a fictitious person or say they have the wrong house. If no one answers, they go into the yard looking for an open or unlocked window. Sometimes they will break a window to gain access but most of the time they find a window or door unlocked. Once inside they ransack your home looking for money, jewelry, laptops, guns and other easily concealable items. Sometimes they will take a pillowslip off your bed to carry their haul. If they find keys to a car in the garage they may help themselves to your televisions, computers and other larger items and simply drive off with their loot.

You come home to relax after a hard day at work only to find your home ransacked with your belongings scattered throughout the house and your personal property missing, some of it probably irreplaceable. Not a fun evening cleaning up the mess, trying to do an inventory of what’s missing for the police, and trying to get over the feeling of being violated knowing someone was roaming free in your home going through all your belongings.

There are a few things you can do to lessen your chances of becoming the victim of a burglary:

1) Get an alarm system. There are several companies that offer free or low cost installation of an alarm system by signing a 2-3 year contract for alarm monitoring. If an alarm activates, the monitoring service calls you or a designated person and then the police. You can get door and window sensors, motion detectors, smoke detectors, whatever you want. Alarm systems are great because a burglar won’t stick around long with loud alarms blaring drawing attention to your home. If you have an alarm system, USE IT! I’ve gone to alarm calls where a home was burglarized and when I ask about the alarm panel on the wall, the victim said they were only leaving for a short time and didn’t use it. It only takes the push of a button to arm the system, if you have it, use it!

2) Get a camera system. These are great! The cost has come way down on these systems. You can put small motion activated cameras inside or outside your home and when they sense movement they began recording to your PC or hard drive. They can even send pictures to your cell phone of what is being recorded. We’ve caught burglars in the act after homeowners called the police and gave a description of the suspects after their camera system sent pictures to their cell phone. Even if a burglar gets away, they are recorded and we know who to look for.

3) Dogs are great. Very few burglars will break into a home where a dog is going ballistic on the other side of the door. A timid miniature Chihuahua probably won’t deter a burglar but a larger dog certainly will.

4) Alert neighbors. If you have neighbors that are home during the day, ask them to keep an eye on things and to call you if they see something unusual. If a burglar sees someone watching them they are less likely to stick around.

5) Most importantly; DON’T leave windows or doors unlocked. If you must leave a window open for ventilation, get a window lock that will let you lock the window ajar a few inches. Burglars can squeeze through even small bathroom windows, don’t leave them open. If a burglar sees an open window it makes you a target. Lock the door leading from the garage into the house; if it has a lock, use it. If a door has a cheap lock on it get a good one with a deadbolt. It’s not a guarantee to prevent a burglary but make it as difficult as possible for a burglar to gain entry. It could make the difference between them getting into your home or giving up to find an easier target.

6) Lights. If you will be gone in the evening or during the night, light up your home. Leave porch lights on and a light or two inside. Burglars hate lights. You can get motion spotlights that come on when they sense movement. Get bright spotlights to light up your doors, windows or yard if someone comes on your property and when the motion stops, the lights go off. If your home is dark inside and outside, burglars can approach and get in undetected but if they walk up to a home and the night turns into day, they won’t stick around long.

7) Christmas time brings out even more thieves. Nothing looks more tempting than a ton of wrapped gifts under a Christmas tree. When you are gone, close the blinds or drapes and don’t give thieves a sneak peek of goodies inside. The same goes for your car; don’t leave bags from stores or wrapped presents in your car. We get numerous reports of gifts being stolen from cars while people are shopping or if items were left in a car overnight. Lock items in the trunk or at least cover them so they are not in view.

8 ) Report any suspicious activity. If someone unfamiliar to your neighborhood comes to your door asking for someone who doesn’t live there, make a note of their description(s) and vehicle and call the police to report a suspicious subject. You may end up preventing a burglary in your neighborhood or helping the police catch a burglar with a car full of stolen property.

There are other precautions you can take but these are some of the important ones. If you use some of the above listed tips, you will greatly reduce the chances of finding your home ransacked when you come home.