- Calling 911
- Bicycle Safety
- Bus Stop Safety
- Winter Weather Driving Tips
- Halloween Safety Tips
- Holiday Safety Tips
- Vacation Safety
- Safety Away from Home
- Talking to Kids about Drugs
- Fraud Against Seniors
- Parking Lot Safety
- Identity Theft
- Internet and Phone Scams
- Preventing Home Improvement Scams
Evansville Dispatch is the public safety answering point (PSAP) for all of Evansville and Vanderburgh County. In addition to handling those 9-1-1 calls, Central Dispatch also provides radio communications for local police, sheriff and fire departments.
There are many reasons a person may need to contact Central Dispatch via 9-1-1. Those include:
- When a crime is in progress
- When there is a perceived threat to yourself or another
- When there is a need for police, fire or ambulance services
- If in doubt as to whether or not you should call, do call
In contrast, there are times when a person should not call 9-1-1. Those include:
- When there is a power outage
- To determine if/why a person was arrested
- To check for time and temperature
- To ascertain general information (phone numbers, etc.)
- To determine why a police car was in your neighborhood
Sometimes, a person may call 9-1-1 by mistake. If that happens, stay on the line and inform dispatch of the mistake. A police car will continue to your location until dispatch can confirm there is no emergency.
If you have a cell phone, check your manual to determine how to lock your phone pad. This can help prevent false 9-1-1 calls being made.
When teaching a child how to call 9-1-1, instruct them to dial nine-one-one, not nine-eleven. There is no 11 button on the keypad, and this may create confusion.
Be prepared to answer a variety of questions from the 9-1-1 operators. These questions are necessary and do not delay the emergency personnel from being sent. The questions you may be asked to answer include:
- Suspect and victim descriptions (hair/eye color, height, weight, etc.)
- Involved vehicle make, model and color (for crimes and accidents)
- Direction of travel (for persons and vehicles)
- Stay on the line unless doing so puts yourself in harm’s way
- Remember the 6 W’s:
- Where is this occurring
- What is happening
- When is this occurring (now, previously)
- Who is involved
- Why is this happening
- Weapons-are any involved
For non-English speaking residents, there is a translation service available. The “Language Line” is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service involves a short pause before the 9-1-1 operator is connected with an interpreter. Via a conference call, the interpreter and 9-1-1 operators work together to communicate the caller’s emergency. The service handles over 170 different languages, and in most cases can connect the 9-1-1 operator with a translator in a matter of seconds. If the 9-1-1 operator is unsure of the caller’s nationality, they can request help from the Language Line service, and a representative there will assist in the language identification.
A bicycle is more than a means of basic transportation. Riding can be fun, exciting, and a great way to exercise. Remember though, when you ride, you’re not alone! You share the road with cars, trucks, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Accidents are the quickest way to turn a bicycle adventure into a bicycling tragedy. Here are some tips to help make your ride a safe and enjoyable one.
Protect Your Head – Wear a Helmet
Wear a helmet! Studies have shown that using a bicycle helmet can reduce the chance of head injuries by up to 85%. Select a helmet that has a snug, but comfortable fit. Look for the helmet labels that show they are recommended by either the American National Standards Institute (
See and Be Seen - Wear proper clothing
Wear proper clothing for riding. Clothing should be light in color so you are easily visible to others around you and close fitting to avoid being caught in the bicycle's moving parts. Also, be sure that books and other loose items are secured to the bike or are carried in a back pack.
The Safe Way is the Right Way
Go with the flow of traffic; ride on the right side of the road. You must obey the rules of the road when you ride. This includes traffic signs, signals, and road markings. The safe way to ride is single file. Don’t weave from lane to lane or tailgate to hitch rides on moving vehicles. Learn and use proper hand signals.
Be aware of traffic around you. 7 out of 10 car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways or other intersections. Check for traffic---always look left-right-left. Walk your bicycle across busy streets at corners; use crosswalks when possible.
Keep alert for obstacles in your path. Watch out for potholes, sewer gratings, cracks, railroad tracks, loose gravel, and broken glass. Before going around an object, look ahead and behind you for a gap in traffic. Plan your move, and signal your intentions. Be especially careful in wet weather; water can make you slide and make your brakes work improperly.
Beware of the Dark Side
Be cautious when biking at night. If you have to ride at night, display front and rear reflectors on your bicycle. Wear light colored clothing and reflective markings or materials, especially on your ankles, wrists, back, and helmet. Ride in areas that are familiar and on streets that are brightly lighted.
Follow designated bike routes where available. Bicycles routes are marked by special signs or lines, and are reserved for cyclists. Become familiar with such places in your area. Don’t forget, courtesy rules for the road apply to bike paths too!
Fix It Up
Make sure your bicycle is adjusted properly for you. Before using your bike, check to make sure that all parts are secured and working. The handlebars should be firmly in place and turn easily; the wheels should be straight and secured. You should always check all parts of your bicycle after a fall or after transporting it. Make sure the tires are properly inflated.
Check your brakes before riding. To maintain control apply the rear brake slightly before applying the front brake, Remember to ride slowly in wet weather; roadways may be slippery and your brakes will have less friction to stop the bicycle. It’s important to apply brakes earlier in wet weather since it takes more distance to stop.
Protect your bicycle from theft. A bicycle can be stolen from just about any place at any time. But simple precautions can deter would-be bike thieves. One thing that most stolen bikes have in common is that they were not secured by a lock to a fixed object. Always lock your bicycle securely, whether you're gone for a few minutes or a few hours. Use a U-lock, securing both wheels and the frame to a stationary object such as a post, fence, tree, or bike rack. For extra security, add a chain or cable with a good padlock. Record the serial number of your bicycle and keep it with the sales receipt and a photograph of the bike. Mark your bicycle with an engraver to deter thieves and to help the police in identifying and returning a stolen bike to the rightful owner. Use a unique number such as your social security number or driver's license number.
One of the most critical times of day involving the safety of our children is getting on and off the school bus. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 33 school-age children die in school bus-related accidents each year. Most of these are pedestrians who are hit at the bus stop by a passing car or the bus itself.
Not only do parents and children need to be cautious of traffic; this is a key time for predators to target children as well. Indecent exposures and suspicious adult runs are becoming more common. The Evansville Police Department has a few tips to keep our children safe from the time they leave for the bus stop until they arrive home safely at the end of the school day.
- Children should arrive five minutes before the bus arrives, so they don’t run for the bus.
- Children should wait for the bus off the road.
- Children should start for the bus after it stops completely and the stop arm comes out.
- Children should use the handrail to enter the bus and take one step at a time.
- Children should cross in front of a bus, far enough out so the driver can see them.
- Teach children to never trust that traffic is going to stop for them when getting on and off the bus. Have them make sure the traffic has stopped before crossing the street.
- Teach children that the bus stop is not a place to play or roughhouse. It doesn’t take much for a child to slip or fall into the path of a car.
- Teach your children to stay away from any vehicles or adults that approach them.
- Children should report any inappropriate or suspicious activity by an adult immediately. Call 911 if children report such an incident.
- If possible, an adult guardian should accompany children until they get on the bus or after they get off the bus.
By educating our children on bus stop safety, we can help them avoid becoming another statistic. Parents and children can both play a role to keep the bus stop a safe place for children to start and end their school day.
In Southern Indiana, winter weather can change in the blink of an eye. Your driving behavior should change as well so you can avoid being in or causing a traffic accident. Here are a few tips that should get you through the winter driving season safely.
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
- Try to keep informed about changing weather conditions by tuning in to local news channels
- Keep your car well maintained. Make sure your tires are in good shape with plenty of tread, the air pressure is at the proper level and are rotated regularly. Check the battery. Check the antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.
- Keep a small emergency kit in your vehicle with some of the following essentials: Flashlight, first aid kit, ice scraper, a small tool set and some sort of salt or cat litter
WHILE ON THE
- If driving on icy or snow covered roads, decrease your speed as your stopping time decreases tremendously
- Do not follow as closely as normal to give yourself more reaction time if cars in front of you stop or go out of control
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels lock up, ease off the brakes
- Turn on your lights to be more visible to other motorists
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads as they will freeze first. Even if temperatures are just above freezing, if the roads are wet, some areas may still have ice on them
- Don’t assume that your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four wheel drive vehicles can have trouble on icy and snow covered roads.
- If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels. Turn your wheels side to side as this will clear the snow away from your tires. Use a light touch on your gas to ease your car out.
- If you are still stuck use a shovel to clear the snow away from your tires and under your car. Pour sand, salt, gravel or cat litter in the path of the wheels to attempt to get traction.
- Keep emergency numbers on your cell phone in case you are stranded without help in remote areas such as interstate highways.
- Remember that rainy conditions are just as dangerous as ice and snow. Drivers should adjust for longer stopping distances in the rain also.
- Be alert in hazardous conditions and adjust your driving behaviors accordingly. These simple tips should help you have a safe winter driving season.
Halloween can be an enjoyable holiday for children and parents alike. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous time filled with accidents and criminal acts. The following safety tips can help to insure that you and your family have a safe and happy Halloween.
- Make sure that costumes and wigs are flame resistant.
- Choose light or brightly colored costumes making them more visible.
- Know that masks can block or severely limit your child’s vision. Consider costumes that do not require masks, using non-toxic make-up instead.
- Consider using reflective tape or striping of some type on your child’s costume and/or treat bag.
- Be sure that shoes are comfortable and fit properly.
- Have each child carry a flashlight with fresh batteries to use after it gets dark.
- Discuss proper and appropriate behavior that you expect from your child before leaving the house.
- Have a meeting point in case you and your child get separated.
- Set a time for older children to return home.
Safety while trick-or-treating
- Do not let your children eat any treats until you have checked them for safety.
- Plan your child’s route. Safer alternatives to neighborhood trick-or-treating are family parties, community sponsored events such as the Main St. trick-or-treat and the Mall, and Boo at the Zoo.
- Travel in groups to be more visible and less of a target for criminals. Have parents with younger children at all times.
- Leave all of your exterior lights on at your house.
- Never enter a stranger’s home.
- Be cautious of all vehicular traffic.
Have your child tell you of any suspicious acting people.
- Check all candy thoroughly before letting your child eat any. Check for loose wrappers and holes in any candy or wrapper.
- Do not eat homemade treats unless you know and trust the person who gave it to your child.
- While at home handing out treats, don’t open the door for anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable and never let strangers inside your home.
We hope that these few tips help you and your family enjoy a safe and happy Halloween. If you see any activity that you feel is suspicious, call 911 and report it to the police department.
The holiday season is one filled with joy and happiness. Accidents and being a victim of a crime can put a damper on this wonderful time. These tips can help keep you and your family safe during the holidays.
- Try to conduct all of your business during daylight hours, if not use well-lit areas such as malls and shopping centers
- Try to always shop with another person. Be mindful of your surroundings
- Keep a cell phone handy to use for emergency calls if necessary
- Keep your car doors locked and windows up. Once you reach your destination, make sure you lock your car doors and keep valuables out of sight.
- Place all bought items, bags and other valuables in the trunk or hidden out of view
- While walking to your car, have your keys in your hand and ready to unlock your car. Once again, be mindful of your surroundings.
- Keep your car in good repair. Check the fluid levels, tire pressure and battery
- Keep an emergency kit in your car at all times with some of the following items: Blanket, flares or reflectors, flashlight, cell phone, jumper cables, a few hand tools, first aid items
- Know how to access and use your spare tire and jack
- Know your trip route and alternate ways to your destination
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Try to use credit and debit cards and never let strangers know how much money you are carrying
- Let family or friends know your travel itinerary and plans
- Decorations should conform to local laws and standards. Decorations should never block entrances or exits to your house or yard
- Be sure to not block your address number, utility meters and outdoor outlets
- Inspect all older light sets for frayed or damaged wires.
- Only use lighting sets and extension cords that bear the Underwriter’s Laboratory safety label
- Do not use nails or tacks to hang light set wires
- Do not overload your electrical outlets
- Always buy age appropriate toys and follow all safety warnings
- Avoid buying toys with small removable parts for children under 3 years of age
- Use helmets and other safety gear for riding toys such as bicycles, skateboards, scooters and motorized cars
- Projectile toys such as air rockets, dart guns and sling shots are for older children and still need to be under supervision
- Toys with pull strings over 12 inches long are strangulation hazards for babies and should be avoided
Following these tips and using common sense will help to make your holiday season safe and enjoyable for you and your family.
Vacations should be the time that families enjoy each other, experience new things, leave their troubles behind and make wonderful memories together. Unfortunately, vacations can often be filled with stress and worry, especially when families fall victim to criminals who prey on the unsuspecting vacationers. There are many ways to avoid becoming a victim and to keep your vacation as a time to be filled with fun and creating lasting memories.
- Before Leaving Home
- On the Road
- Hotel and Motel Security
- On the town
- At the Beach
Before Leaving Home
- Inform your neighbors how long you expect to be away.
- Have a friend or neighbor pick up mail and deliveries. Make arrangements to have your lawn mowed and leaves raked.
- Have a neighbor place garbage cans at the curb on your normal pickup day and return then after the garbage pickup is made.
- Make your house looked lived-in, by using timers on lights and having an appearance that people are still home.
- Turn the ringer on your phone down low or off. If a burglar is around he won’t be alerted to your absence by a ringing telephone.
- Make sure your residence is secured with good locks on all doors and windows.
- Leave shades and blinds in a normal position.
- Ask a neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway.
On the Road
- Never carry large amounts of cash; use traveler’s checks and/or debit and credit cards. If you must carry large amounts of money, do not display it openly.
- Keep a record of your traveler’s check numbers in a safe place in case of loss or theft.
- Never store your PIN for your debit card in the same place as your card. Only take the cards that you plan on using on the trip.
- Be aware of your surroundings and never advertise your plans to strangers. This includes travel plans and the amount of cash you are carrying.
- Have a cell phone for emergency calls and keep all phone numbers for your credit cards and traveler’s checks if they are lost or stolen.
- Keep a flashlight, first aid kit and a small tool set with you for roadside emergencies.
Hotel and Motel Security
- Once at the motel, determine the most direct route to and from your room, fire escapes, elevators and stairwells.
- When inside your room, use all auxiliary locks on doors and windows.
- Identify anyone who comes to your door and open the door only if you are certain that person has a legitimate reason to enter your room. If in doubt, call the manager/front desk.
- Unpack your belongings and put them in the closet and dresser. Arrange things so you will notice if anything is missing.
- Never leave money, checks, credit cards or car keys in your room. Take them with you.
- Place any extra cash, expensive jewelry and any other
- valuables in the hotel safe.
- Report any lost or stolen items to the hotel management and
- the police.
- Avoid any unlit areas if at all possible, and try to always
- travel in pairs or groups.
On the Town
- Once again, never display large amounts of cash while making purchases. Use traveler’s checks or debit and credit cards.
- Carry wallets in an inside coat or trouser pocket.
- Women should carry their purse close to her side and over the neck, not just the shoulder. Be sure to carry the purse close to the body.
- If you are going out in an unfamiliar area, ask the hotel clerk if there are areas you should avoid.
- Don’t advertise you are a tourist. Don’t look lost or vulnerable. Walk with a purpose and stay alert to what’s happening around you. If you get lost, find an open business and ask for directions.
- DO NOT GIVE MONEY TO PANHANDLERS
- Be aware of your surroundings and those around you. Remember, thieves prey on vacationers and know the areas that you will be visiting.
At the Beach
- PersoNal safety in areas such as sunscreen, plenty of drinking water or fluids and proper floatation devices for children take precedence here.
- Try to only swim in areas designated for this activity and always follow warning and instructional signs such as unsafe tides and no swimming.
- If at all possible, only swim where lifeguards are posted and are present.
- Keep all valuables and cash out of view and try to keep someone with your belongings at all times. Do not make yourself and your group an easy target for a thief.
On the Street and Other Places
- Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Walk with a friend or family member.
- Walk with confidence and know where you are going. Be alert. Make eye contact with people you pass.
- Watch your surroundings. Leave any places in which you are uncomfortable. Be especially alert for suspicious persons around banks, ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), stores, your home, etc.
- Cross the street if you see someone suspicious following you.
- Walk into an open business and call 911 if you see anyone acting suspicious or following you. Don’t go home.
- Don’t go out alone at night, venture into unfamiliar or dark places, take shortcuts, talk to or accept rides with strangers, or hitch rides. Don’t walk in or near alleys, on deserted streets, near dark doorways or shrubbery.
- Don’t approach vehicles even if the occupants say they need directions or assistance.
- Consider your options in the event you are confronted, e.g., scream or blow a whistle to attract attention, flee to a safe area, etc. Decide what you plan to do and practice your responses so you can recall them in a real situation.
- Learn self-defense. Take classes only from licensed instructors. But don’t substitute self-defense training for common sense, alertness, and caution.
- Know where telephones are along your route.
- Carry cash and credit cards in a pocket.
- Carry change for emergency telephone and transportation. 911 calls are free.
- Carry identification, medical information, names and phone numbers of people to call in emergencies.
- Carry only necessities.
- Avoid verbal confrontations. They may lead to physical altercations.
- Don’t leave notes on your door when you are away from home.
- Don’t leave keys in mailboxes or planters, under doormats, or in other obvious hiding spots. Leave an extra key with a neighbor.
- Don’t carry a gun, knife, club, chemical spray, or other weapon. Some are illegal to carry and all could be used against you.
In general, follow the four As of self-defense:
- Be AWARE of your surroundings and who or what is nearby.
- ASSESSthe situation and possible threat.
- ACT quickly and decisively. Change your route, go into a store, use your voice, etc.
- Maintain a confident ATTITUDE. Don’t appear to be an easy target.
Don’t put off talking to your children about alcohol and other drugs. As early as fourth grade, kids worry about pressures to try drugs. School programs alone aren’t enough. Parents must become involved, but most parents aren’t sure how to tell their children about drugs. Open communication is one of the most effective tools you can use in helping your child avoid drug use. Talking freely and really listening show children that they mean a great deal to you.
What do you say?
- Tell them that you love them and you want them to be healthy and happy.
- Say you do not find alcohol and other illegal drugs acceptable.
- Many parents never state this simple principle. Explain how this use hurts people. Physical harm - for example, AIDS, slowed growth, impaired coordination, accidents. Emotional harm - sense of not belonging, isolation, paranoia. Educational harm - difficulties remembering and paying attention.
- Discuss the legal issues. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to time in prison or cost someone a job, driver’s license, or college loan.
- Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives, and how you can explore them together. Some ideas include sports, reading, movies, bike rides, hikes, camping, cooking, games, and concerts. Involve your kids’ friends.
How do you say it?
- Calmly and openly - don’t exaggerate. The facts speak for themselves.
- Face to face - exchange information and try to understand each other’s point of view. Be an active listener and let your child talk about fears and concerns. Don’t interrupt and don’t preach.
- Through "teachable moments" - in contrast to a formal lecture, use a variety of situations - television news, TV dramas, books, newspaper.
- Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech.
Remember that you set the example. Avoid contradictions between your words and your actions. Don’t use illegal drugs, period!
- Be creative! You and your child might act out various situation in which one person tries to pressure another to take a drug. Figure out two or three ways to handle each situation and talk about which works best. Exchange ideas with other parents.
How can I tell if a child is using drugs?
Identifying illegal drug use may help prevent further abuse. Possible signs include:
- Change in moods - more irritable, secretive, withdrawn, overly sensitive, inappropriately angry, euphoric. Less responsible - late coming home, late for school or class, dishonest.
- Changing friends or changing lifestyles - new interests, unexplained cash.
- Physical deterioration - difficulty in concentration, loss of coordination, loss of weight, unhealthy appearance.
Why do kids use drugs?
Young people say they turn to alcohol and other drugs for one or more of the following reasons:
- To do what their friends are doing
- To escape pain in their lives
- To fit in
- For fun
- To take risks
Take A Stand!
- Educate yourself about the facts surrounding alcohol and other drug use. You will lose credibility with your child if your information is not correct.
- Establish clear family rules against drug use and enforce them consistently.
- Develop your parenting skills through seminars, networking with other parents, reading, counseling, and support groups. Work with other parents to set community standards - you don’t raise a child alone.
- Volunteer at schools, youth centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, or other activities in your community.
For More Information
State and local government drug use prevention, intervention, and treatment agencies.
State and local law enforcement agencies. Private drug use treatment service listed in the telephone book Yellow Pages.
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)
P.O. Box 2345
Rockville, MD 20847-2345
Fraud is the deliberate deception of the victim(s) with the promise of goods or services that are never provided. These exist in several areas.
- Prizes and Sweepstakes-These include winning a prize or lump sum of money. The victim is usually required to send a payment to cover for taxes and shipping costs. There is never a prize rewarded.
- Investments-A lot of seniors live on fixed income and look for a way to increase the value of their real estate. Often the offender gets the seniors to invest in fake gemstones, uninhabitable property or fake shares or unprofitable companies.
- Charities-Offenders will try and get seniors to invest or donate to false charities.
- Home and Automobile Properties-Offenders go to senior’s homes making claims that the home is in need of emergency repairs and ask for advanced payments. The work is never finished or even started. There are a lot of these people that are transients that move to different neighborhoods and/or cities. There are a lot of dishonest car repairmen who will make unnecessary repairs or bill for repairs that were not made.
- Loans and Mortgages-Seniors sometimes experience some type of cash flow problem due to medical problems and or home repairs. Predatory lenders will sometimes give loans with high interest rates or hidden fees. There may be repayment fees beyond the victim’s means causing them to lose their homes which were listed as collateral.
- Health, Funeral and Life Insurance-Insurance agencies will sell policies that duplicate coverage, and/or they do not provide the coverage that is promised or the coverage is bogus.
- Health Remedies-A lot of seniors have health problems that require some type of treatment. Offenders will offer a number of ineffective remedies that promise miracle cures. In doing this seniors can delay much needed medical treatment causing their health to deteriorate further.
- Travel-Seniors will be offered low-cost travel packages. However most of these cost more than market rates, and they don’t provide proper accommodations or proper services.
Tips to help avoid being scammed
- Ask for a business card and some type of Identification. Write down the business name and contact the business by finding the number yourself. Don’t take a phone number from the suspect because a lot of times they will give you a phone number to a friend who is involved in the scam.
- Ask for their permit. They must have a permit from the city to solicit business.
- DO NOT let them come into your house. When you let them come in your house, if you choose to make a donation, they are taking an inventory of things in your house and may look to see where you keep your cash. This could lead to a burglary later.
- If still unsure call the Financial Crimes Unit of the Police Department. (812)-436-7991.
- You can also call the Better Business Bureau, Evansville office (812)-473-0202.
Arriving at the Parking Lot
- Have a planrehearsed in your head of what you will do in the event of an attack.
- When possible wear shoes and clothing that will not hinder an escape. Sneakers are best and shoes with low heels are your second best. Keep a pair in the car if you are going to be out on your way home from work. If you wear high heels and are pursued, kick them off and run barefoot.
- If you are unfamiliar with the parking lot, drive through it and check it first. If you don’t feel safe, go elsewhere and wait for someone else to arrive.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for suspicious people or activities.
- Park in highly visible, well lit areas. Avoid parking near shrubbery or the side of vans that has the slide open doors. Back in to the space if possible. (Near the elevator, if possible in a parking garage).
- Always carefully note where you parked so you don't spend unnecessary time walking around a parking lot.
Returning to your vehicle
- Do not present yourself as an easy target. Try not to carry a lot of packages.
- Walk confidently and with a purposeand observe those around you. If you notice someone hanging around your car or acting suspiciously return to the store. Assertive body language can help prevent an attack. Keep your head up.
- Have all of your attention and effort dedicated to your surroundings and walking to your vehicle.
- Turn offyour cell phone, have your keys in your hand so you are not searching for them while you walk. Keep vehicle key separate from other keys. Attach a whistle with the vehicle key.
- Walk to your vehicle in pairs or in a group.
- As you approach your car, look under and around it. Before getting in your car look in the back seat and on the floor.
- When you enter your vehicle, lock all the doors and turn on your headlights. This will allow you to see anyone outside in the dark.
- Start the vehicle and drive to another location; that is well lit before making any necessary phone calls. Limit the amount of time you spend idle in the car.
- If you feel that you are being followed, walk or run quickly to a lighted store or where crowds of people can offer help if needed. Know where to go for help-police station, fire house, etc. Donot go home.
- Do anything you canto draw attention. Don't be embarrassed. Scream, yell or blow your whistle. Honk the car horn.
- If you carry a purse, don't dangle it by your side so that a thief can run by you and grab it. Carry your purse close to your body, preferably in front.
- Keep your car in good mechanical condition to prevent car trouble. Keep the tank filled with sufficient gas.
- Avoid carrying large sums of money and unnecessary credit cards. Consider keeping ten or fifteen dollars in your wallet or purse to throw to the ground to initiate an escape.
There are steps that you can take to make it more difficult for these thieves to obtain your personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these tips can help identity theft from happening to you:
Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs) and even government agencies to get you to reveal your SSN, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information. Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. You can check the organization's web site as many companies post scam alerts when their name is used improperly, or you can call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book.
Do not carry your SSN card -- leave it in a secure place.
Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service work done in your home.
Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you are planning to be away from home and cannot pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.
To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you are discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail. If you do not use the pre-screened credit card offers you receive in the mail, you can opt out by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567- 8688). Please note that you will be asked for your Social Security number in order for the credit bureaus to identify your file so that they can remove you from their lists and you still may receive some credit offers because some companies use different lists.
Carry only the identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you will actually need.
Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Use a password instead.
Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect identifying information from you. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask if you can keep your information confidential.
Give your SSN only when necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your SSN as your account number.
Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.
Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work as well as any copies you may keep of administrative forms that contain your sensitive personal information.
Cancel all unused credit accounts.
When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank, rather than having them sent to your home mailbox.
The Federal Trade Commission webpage provides consumers with a vast array of information on this topic. Their page can be viewed by clicking the below links:
There are a few basics rules that should be applied when trying to protect yourself from phone and internet scams. Trust your instinct, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Get yourself on the “do not call list” www.donotcall.gov.
- Even if you do not wish to be on that list, you may tell a specific telemarketer that you no longer want to receive calls from them; and they have to honor that.
- Registered telemarketers will call between the hours of 8:00 am- 9:00 pm
- They must tell you it’s a sales call and who is doing the sale before they give you the pitch.
- If it is a prize promotion, they must state that no purchase is necessary to win. If you’re ever asked to pay for a prize- hang up. They must also tell your odds of winning.
- They cannot lie to get you to pay.
Tip-offs to Rip-offs
If you here these phrases or something similar, it’s time to end the phone call.
“You’ve been specially selected”
“You’ll get a free bonus if you buy”
“You’ve won 1 of 5 valuable prizes”
“You’ve won money in a foreign lottery”
“You must send the money right away”
“We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card”
- Don’t be pressured to make an immediate decision.
- Don’t give your credit card, checking account or social security number to any unknown caller or to confirm your identity.
- Get all information in writing before you agree to buy.
- Check out the charity before you give. Ask how much of your money actually goes to the charity, ask for that information in writing, and ask if it is tax deductible.
- If the offer is an investment, check with your state securities regulator to see if it is properly registered.
- Don’t ever send cash, this usually will eliminate your right to dispute fraudulent charges.
- Make sure you know the “per minute” charge of any 900 number call you make.
- Don’t agree to pay for something in order to receive a free gift.
- Check out unsolicited offers with the Better Business Bureau at (812)-473-0202.
- Beware of offers to help you recover money that you may have lost previously. Be wary if they say they are enforcement officers and require a fee to recover your money.
- Legitimate businesses should not have a problem supplying you information in writing.
Tip-offs to Rip-offs
If you here these phrases or something similar, it’s time to delete the e-mail:
“Forward this to 10 friends in the next 10 minutes”
“You will have bad luck if you don’t forward this to everyone in your address book”
“Help this dying child”
“Microsoft is offering cash for forwarding this e-mail”
“Sign this petition and then forward it to everyone you know”
- When sending e-mails to a number of people it is a good idea to BCC (blind carbon copy) so that you are not giving out addresses to everyone that receives the e-mail.
- Never open e-mail from an unknown recipient.
- If a chain letter has a message that you would like to pass on, cut and paste the info. Do not forward it.
- Do not click on highlighted links in emails. Type the actual address into your toolbar.
- Don’t forward a chain e-mail or any e-mail that offers a reward or prize money.
- If you plan on making a purchase on an Internet site, make sure it is a secured site and log off and back on before you make the transaction.
- The best protection is to immediately delete all questionable e-mails.
- You can report any suspicious activity to the Financial Crimes Unit (812)-436-7991 or your local police department.
Winter can be very harsh on homes. By the time Spring rolls around, many homes are in need of many repairs and improvements. Unfortunately, there is always a scam artist right around the corner, waiting to take advantage of these situations. Some scams can include local contractors who ask for a large up-front payment and then do little or no work. Other examples include contractors who quote a price and then charge a lot more as the job progresses; and of course the plain old scam artists who offer to do a job, get their money, and disappear. By following these tips, you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a home improvement scam.
- Be alert for the “knock-at-your-door” scam. Do not trust anyone who shows up out of the blue and offers to do work on your house.
- Make certain they have valid Identification and Business card.
- Do not take a phone number from the individual, they usually will give you a false number, or a friend’s number.
- Call the business yourself, look it up in the phone book, if you can not find the business, it probably is not valid.
- Ask them for a permit. They must have a permit from the city to solicit business.
- Do not let them come into your house. They maybe casing your house and trying to locate your valuables.
- You can contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if the business is valid and if the individual is a valid employee.
- Request local references-and check into them.
- Get several written estimates, choose the best, and get a contract IN WRITING. Do not let them try to give you a verbal agreement.
- Avoid paying a large sum of money in advance.
- You can report any suspicious activity to the EPD, Financial Crimes Unit (812)-436-7991 or your local police department.
- Better Business Bureau (812)-473-0202