The Pratt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind you that YOU can help prevent crime. By taking some basic steps to protect your home, your car, your belongings and your family, you can help make our community safe and secure.
HOW TO PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, your social security number, your checking or credit card numbers and then poses as you. The thief then has complete access to your money and they can and will spend it as they wish.
It can take months or even years to undo the mess created by a thief in just days or even minutes. However, you can make it tougher for thieves to access your information. Below are some simple reminders of how to best protect yourself, your money, and your good name;
- Do not give out personal information. Credit card numbers, social security numbers and other identifying numbers are already on file with the financial institutions you do business with. Legitimate business will not call you and ask for that information. Remember, if someone has a right to this information they should already have it!
- Report lost or stolen checks. The numbers contained on your checks can give clear access to a thief. Always properly store cancelled checks and examine new checks to be sure none were stolen in shipment. Make sure you store them in a -safe and secure location.
- Destroy unused financial solicitations. Before discarding unwanted “junk” mail be sure to tear up or shred them since they may contain information that a thief could use to steal your identity. Remember to safely destroy any types of financial statements or receipts since they also contain sensitive information.
- Guard your Automated Teller Machine Card and PIN Number. While these types of cards can make life easier for you they can completely disrupt your life if they fall into the hands of a thief. Always guard your card and PIN and never leave receipts lying around. Also, never allow someone to stand behind you at a Teller machine. Thieves are trained at watching the key pad for PIN numbers.
- Make sure your mailbox is secure. Promptly remove mail when it has been delivered. Thieves often raid mailboxes to obtain credit card information or financial statements.
- Contact the -major credit reporting companies. These companies can tell you who or what company has access your credit report. A copy can be obtained for a small fee from the company. The three major companies are; Equifax 1-800- 685-1111, Experian 1-888-397-3742, TransUnion 1-800-916-8800.
A few common sense steps can help you avoid being a victim of the nation’s fastest growing property crime.
- Never leave your car running or unattended.
- Never leave your keys in the car or ignition.
- Always roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it is in front of your home.
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked, this is the number one reason cars are broken into. Put them in the trunk out of sight.
- Always park in busy, well lighted areas whenever possible.
- Carry your registration and insurance card with you. Don’t leave personal identification documents or credit cards in your vehicle.
- Copy your license plate and vehicle identification numbers on a card and keep them with your driver’s license. If your vehicle is stolen, police will need this information promptly.
Basic Home Security
Doors and Windows
- Security starts with properly locked doors and windows, since these are the most common entry points.
- Install dead bolts.
- Use a door brace of some sort for sliding glass doors.
- All locks should be changed when you move into a previously occupied house no matter who you’ve purchased the home from.
- Don’t hide keys anywhere. Keys hidden outside are easily found.
- Don’t encourage a burglar by displaying valuable items where they can be seen from a window. Purses and wallets left in plain sight are prime targets.
- Engrave all your property with unique identifiers.
- Make a list of all your valuables, including serial numbers.
While away from Home
- Leave on a radio or T.V. Many radios and TV’s have timers you can set to come on at specific times.
- Consider putting lights on a timer if you return home after dark regularly, including photo sensitive flood lights.
- If you will be away for a few days:
- Arrange for someone to cut the grass.
- Ask your neighbor to park in your driveway.
- Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on house and pick up your mail and newspapers.
Every crime must have three elements: an offender, a victim, and an opportunity. Remove any one element and no crime can occur.
By utilizing crime prevention techniques around your home, work place, and vehicles, you can decrease your chances of becoming a victim!