If it has your name on it, don’t just toss it… shred it!

Learning how to avoid becoming a victim of a robbery or physical attack is very important. It can happen in your home, out on the street or when you’re traveling.

Handling documents

If a document has your name, address or an account number on it, shred it. Don’t just toss it in the trash. Identity theft begins with these valuable pieces of information. Also shred any junk mail that includes an application for credit in your name.

Handling travel

When visiting entertainment districts and other tourist spots, dress down. Flashy clothes and jewelry attract attention from street predators.

Park in an attended garage. When returning to your car, have the keys ready and in hand. Digging for keys at the door makes you a still target. Look inside the car at the back seat and floor before getting in.

Keep your head on a swivel. Watch your surroundings. Notice people. Make brief eye contact without staring. Look confident and walk with purpose. If you need directions, ask a store clerk or restaurant worker. Stay in well-lit areas.

Don’t flash money even when inside a store. Some robbers linger in stores to spot victims carrying lots of cash.

Use public transportation wisely. On buses, sit in the front near the driver but not too near the door. Ask the driver, not other passengers, for directions. On trains, choose a car with other passengers rather than an empty car.

Handling encounters

When answering the door, do not open it for someone you don’t know. Consider installing a telescopic peephole that lets you stand back from the door yet clearly see the caller.

Don’t consider a uniform proof of identity. It is a simple matter to find wardrobe resembling a utility company worker, overnight delivery driver or even police officer.

Street predators favor those who appear oblivious to their surroundings or are helpless. Walk with your head up and look around. Never walk and text or talk on the phone. Some think the phone signals a way to quickly call for help, but it really labels you as distracted and vulnerable.

Don’t have the look of a victim. Let your walk project confidence through organized movement and flowing motion.

Handling awareness

Vary your travel pattern. Come and go at different times. Change routes when taking walks or running errands. Bad guys casing your home will look for predictable times you won’t be there.

Look for patterns in your surroundings. Is that a different car parked on the street? Are those guys the regulars who always hang out on that corner? How long has that person been behind you? If you cross the street, do they follow? Get into a busy public place like a coffee shop or eatery. If they stop too, consider calling the police. The worst thing to do is continue walking until you are in a less populated area.

Handling fraud

You can say no immediately to any telephone sales pitch or hang up at any time. That is not being rude, it is protecting yourself.

Never give bank account or credit card numbers to people you did not call. Do not share it online unless you started the exchange.

Do not do business with repair people who come to the door unsolicited. Always get referrals from family, friends and neighbors who have had repairs done. Never pay for the whole job in advance.

When shopping online, use only trusted merchants. Keep your computer virus protection software current and consider installing a firewall to prevent unsolicited contact.


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