Holiday Shopping Precautions

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November 23, 2011

Tallahassee police officers say this is the time of the year when they get the most reports of cars and homes getting broken into, mostly because people leave things in plain site.

Officer David Northway, a spokesperson with the Tallahassee Police Department says, "Don't leave them in the front or back seat. Because someone looking to break into a car is lazy by nature, and if they see something they can just grab and take and go, that's the one they're going to hit."

Officer Northway shares a few tips from the Tallahassee Police Department on keeping your items and money safe this holiday season.

Holiday Fraud Prevention Tips:

Check your wallet or purse before you go shopping. Avoid carrying your Social Security cards, birth certificates or passports unless necessary. Don't carry extra credit cards unless you plan to use them. Secure wallets, purses and valuables in the trunk if you leave them in the car.

Don’t leave your wallet or purse unattended. It only takes a moment for someone to take it or remove it while you are shopping. Secure checks or credit cards and do not leave them in open view and easily obtainable.

Create a list of all your credit card and bank account information and keep in a secure place. If your card is stolen, refer to this list and immediately notify your card provider. Include on the list: account numbers and telephone numbers/emails of customer service and fraud departments.

Keep all of your receipts from your credit/debit card purchases, at least until you have verified your next statement. This may help identify how or who compromised your card if it happens.

Protect your Passwords and PINs. When creating passwords and PINs, combine letters and numbers. Don't use: the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, mother's maiden name, birth date, middle name, pet's name, consecutive numbers, or anything that could easily be discovered by thieves. Cover your PIN when entering it during transactions and do not give it to anyone to enter for you.

Avoid e-mailing personal and financial information. Even if your computer is well protected, that doesn't mean the individual or the company receiving your payment has similar security. Always confirm with on-line retailers that they have proper security before responding to any e-mail request.

Don't reply and delete any suspicious e-mail requests. Don't click links or buttons in the messages. Instead, type the URL of the company into your browser, log on as you normally do, and review your account information.

Never give confidential information over the phone to someone claiming they represent a financial institution or creditor. If you receive an unsolicited call and are asked to provide information, get their name, location, telephone number and reason they are calling. Call them back on the phone number on your billing statements to verify their identification.

Don’t let your credit card out of you sight. Thieves can use a palm sized device called a “Skimmer” to capture your credit card information without physically stealing your card. Although keeping continuous sight of your card may not be possible during the holiday shopping season, check your credit card/bank statements routinely and report any fraudulent charges immediately.

If you can answer “YES” to any of the following questions you could be involved in a Fraud Scheme or about to be scammed!

The CHECK or MONEY ORDER you received from an item you sold on the Internet, such as a car, boat, jewelry, etc. . . . . .

Is the amount of the CHECK/MONEY ORDER more than the item(s) selling price?

Did you receive the CHECK/MONEY order via an overnight delivery service?

Is the CHECK/MONEY ORDER connected to communicating with someone by email?

Is the CHECK/MONEY ORDER drawn on a business or individual account that is different from the person buying your item(s)?

Have you been informed that you were the winner of a LOTTERY or your GRANT was approved, such as the Canadian, Jamaican or Nigerian or another that you did not enter?

Have you been instructed to “WIRE”, “SEND” or “SHIP” MONEY as soon as possible, to a large U.S. city or another country, such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?

Have you been asked to PAY MONEY to receive a deposit from another country such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?

Are you receiving PAY or COMMISSION for facilitating money transfers through your account?

Are you receiving PAY or ITEMS in exchange for having items shipped to your address that you then reship to another address?

Did you respond to an email requesting you to CONFIRM, UPDATE or PROVIDE your account information?

Did you receive a phone call from someone saying they were a relative and requesting that money be sent immediately to another country or state for medical or legal bills?

Have you been told your relative has been incarcerated and passport taken, until he pays fines for damages or property damage, he will remain in another country?

If you answered YES to any of the questions, DO NOT send the funds, you may be the victim of a Fraud Scheme and may potentially suffer a financial loss. Please contact the Tallahassee Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit with any questions or concerns regarding one of these or another scenario.

The Tallahassee Police Department wishes everyone a safe and happy Holiday Season.