SafetySpeakBlog

This blog is part of the City's Let's Talk Public Safety Program

Nov 01

Holiday Shopping Season Is Here ... Take Steps to Keep Your Information Safe While Shopping Online

Posted on November 1, 2018 at 5:18 PM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Holiday shopping season is here, and we’ll be deciding if we visit a store or hop online to buy gifts and essentials for our family gatherings.

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If you think you’ll be choosing the virtual cart over the store cart to make your holiday purchases, it’s important you take preventive measures to protect yourself from identity theft.

There are four simple yet very important steps you can take to prevent your personal and financial information from getting into the wrong hands.

First, choose a credit card or prepaid gift card over a debit card. Credit cards offer protection from identity theft that debit cards don’t. When you use your debit card, you allow someone to instantly gain access to your personal banking account; a credit card on the other hand is not linked to your checking account. Also, when it comes to disputing a charge, the process is a lot easier with a credit card and requires less effort on the consumer’s part. An even better option is to use a prepaid gift card.

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Second, verify the website security. Before you settle on a website to make purchases, check to make sure it has security features in place. Without a strong security platform in place, your personal details and credit card information are more vulnerable to hackers, spanners, and identity thieves. One quick way to check a website’s security is to make sure its URL starts with “https” rather than “http,” and that there is a closed padlock icon located in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Third, avoid making online purchases on public Wi-Fi. Shopping at home using your secure Internet is best. If you shop using a public Wi-Fi, you’ll have no control over who might be using the network, which increases the odds your personal information can be stolen by a savvy criminal. You also don’t have any control over what kind of spyware or malware might be stored in a public computer.

Fourth, do not leave your information stored online. It may be easier and quicker to get through the checkout process; however, data breaches are very common. Even large, well-established businesses such as Target, Home Depot, Ebay, and Equifax have all found themselves victims of hackers with their customer’s personal and payment card information exposed to cyber-criminals.

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I hope these tips will help you have a safe holiday shopping season. As always, thanks for subscribing to Safety Speak. Leaflets with safety tips, including one about holiday shopping, can be found on the City website. I encourage you to check them out and share them with family members and friends.

Also, if you have any public safety-related questions or concerns or if you have suggestions for topics to cover future blog posts, let me know using the Ask a Deputy feature.
Nov 01

Prevent Package Theft ... Do not Leave Deliveries Sitting on Your Doorstep

Posted on November 1, 2018 at 5:09 PM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Take a quick look around you and the items that you own – it can be clothing, furniture, electronics, toiletries, or even groceries. If you were to do an online search for any of these items, chances are you would find more than one vendor that sells them and can have been delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days. The convenience of shopping on the internet means more individuals are inclined to elect online ordering over in-store buying, particularly before and during the busy holiday season. The problem lies in the delivered packages left sitting on doorsteps for hours at a time and visible to thieves who act on impulse and view those shipping boxes as opportunities too tempting to pass up.

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Sep 26

Preventing and Reporting Mail Theft ... Eliminate the Opportunity, Report it to Authorities

Posted on September 26, 2018 at 8:27 AM by Deputy Aaron Scheller

Here’s a scenario: you arrive at your mailbox with the expectations of finding mail you had been waiting for only to see the mailbox door open and nothing inside. You stand confused wondering if the mailman had passed you by or if the mailbox door had fallen open on its own. That’s the first question the Sheriff’s deputy will ask you when you call to report stolen mail, “How do you know it has been stolen?”
Mail boxes or receptacles have been a feature of American homes and businesses for many decades. They serve an important functional purpose - to hold mail delivered daily by the United States Postal Service until their owners are able to collect. Beyond seeing them as a trusted and official conduit for communication, we regard our mailbox as our private property which is why it is a jarring experience to find it empty when we are expecting mail or, even worse, vandalized.

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