Take steps to avoid identity theft safety

Take steps to avoid identity theft safety


11/14/2006 – Q. With the holiday season approaching, what are some fraud prevention tips consumers should keep in mind?

A. “Use cash,” says Detective Glenn Finley of Westminster’s property-crimes unit.

He’s kidding. Well, sort of.

Finley uses cash for most of his purchases after years of watching thieves become increasingly sophisticated about stealing identities.

The catch? Someone steals your wallet and there goes your cash.

In the real world, most of us would rather swipe our card anyway.

The best thing you can do is use a credit card, instead of a debit card, Finley said. You’re more likely to be protected from fraudulent purchases made on credit, rather than debit, cards.

“The reality is everyone’s identity is out there for the taking,” Finley said.

Still, there are a few steps you can take to minimize your exposure.

“It’s like catching a cold,” Finley explained.

While none of the following is foolproof, here are a few “vitamins” for the taking:

•Check your statements online or by phone often to make sure everything is in order.

•Don’t let go of your card unless you can see it from where you are at the cash register.

•Use trusted ATMs. Avoid using ATMs at generic machines, located at malls or convenience stores.

•Yank at the ATM to make sure it’s not a molded front that clips to the machine. The façade could contain a skimmer to read your account and PIN number.

•Use three fingers to type in your number so that someone can’t figure out your number through the movement of your hand.

Q. What are some things I can do to help prevent a beehive from forming on my house?

A. Removing a beehive from your home can cost up to about $200 and that doesn’t include the price of repairing the damage to the home, said Sam Bonderov, owner of Bee Emergency Response Team.

“They always say prevention is better than the cure,” said Bonderov, a certified Africanized Honeybee expert who services all of Southern California.

Here are a few prevention tips.

• Inspect your home at least once a month, checking for bees and examining cracks in dark, dry and warm areas, such as chimneys and bathroom vents.

•Avoid planting vegetation, such as vines and trees near your home which can be magnets for bees.

•Have a professional set out traps or spray your home, which can cost $25 to $35 a month.

CONTACT US: Got a question? Contact Cindy Carcamo at ccarcamo@ocregister.com or 714-796-7829.

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