As 2020 winds down and our holiday celebrations may feel different this year, but it’s no time to let down our guard because criminals don’t take a holiday.
In fact, during this time of year it’s more important than ever to stay alert to your surroundings and take time to prevent becoming a victim. Here are some important reminders to help you stay safe:
- Holiday Shopping:
• Ideally, go shopping with a friend or family member, during the day if possible. Specifically, avoid driving alone or after dark.
• Park in a well-lighted area or as close to the store as possible.
• Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
• Be aware of your surroundings, when walking in a parking lot or observing who is parked next to you. Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or vehicles with tinted windows.
• Have your keys firmly in hand before approaching your car.
• Hold on tight to your purse, wallet, and packages and don’t put them down or on top of your vehicle as you enter your car.
• If you have a safety concern, ask a mall security officer to escort you to your vehicle.
- Using An Automatic Teller Machine (ATM):
• If you must use an ATM to withdraw money, use a drive-up machine during the day. Or choose one located inside a mall or a well-lit location.
• At a walkup ATM: Protect your personal identification number (PIN) by shielding the ATM keypad.
• Don’t throw away your ATM receipt at the ATM location.
- Parking Your Vehicle:
• Never, ever leave your car unoccupied with the motor running, just for a minute or with children inside.
• Always lock your vehicle doors and windows when you’re in or out of your car.
• Never leave packages or valuables in your car—whether shopping or parked at home.
- Staying Safe At Home:
• If someone approaches your home and rings your doorbell and you do not know them, do not open the door.
• Keep windows and doors locked when you’re inside your home. Remember to trim hedges and other landscaping so people are easily seen around your doors and windows. Keep outside lights on at night to make your home less inviting.
• Park your vehicles in well-lit areas near your home or in a garage. Always remove valuables and lock the doors, take keys.
• It’s also important to know your neighbors and the vehicles that belong there. If you see someone or a vehicle that seems suspicious, call the Volusia Sheriff’s Office (non-emergency: 386.248.1777 (or 911 in an emergency) and we’ll check it out.
- Prevent Cyber Crime, Identity Theft:
• Never give your personal information or computer access to anyone who calls, e-mails, or texts you that you don’t know. Remember: Banks, government, and law enforcement officials, and medical facilities won’t call seeking your personal information, or demand you pay them money. Scam artists will—usually they want you to go purchase gift cards to pay them—that’s a sure sign of a scam.
• If you believe you have fallen victim to identity theft, visit our website, https://www.volusiasheriff.org/resources
• Under Safety Center/Victim Assistance, click on Florida’s Identity Theft Victim Kit to guide you to report what happened.
• Be on guard for other types of electronic scams: Opportunists may use fake charities and other harmless-sounding tricks to target seniors. Or they’ll call you claiming your family member is in jail and needs you to bail them out. Don’t fall for it.
In Volusia County, we have a Seniors versus Crime team also known as Sleuths. This group is made up of senior volunteers as part of a special project of the Florida Attorney General. It can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407.537.9509.
The Volusia Sheriff’s Office remains committed to protecting everyone in the beautiful place we live. Let’s all take care of ourselves and each other.