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Ramona's Crime Prevention Specialist Gives Tips on Preventing Fraud

Barbara Wallace says there are many things you can do to make sure you aren't a victim of fraud.

Each week, Ramona sees a handful of reported fraud in the San Diego County Sheriff's Station Crime Log, and Patch talked with Crime Prevention Specialist Barbara Wallace, who works out of the Ramona Sheriff's Substation, to find out how residents can take measures to prevent the crime.

While fraud is becoming increasingly easier for crooks thanks to the Internet, Wallace said it still affects all types of residents.

"It probably hits people more of computer age," Wallace said. "Potentially, someone who's 80 probably won't have that unless someone steals their bank statement."

Cash is always an easy answer, but the local crime prevention specialist knows it's not the be-all, end-all solution. She gives Ramona residents six ways to help reduce the risk of fraud in their lives.

List all of your credit cards, scan both sides and securely file away for your records.

"If something happens, you have all the information on your card–front and back," Wallace said.

Only buy from trusted sources.

"Only buy from places you could walk to," Wallace said. "If it's someplace on the web you haven't bought before, you should probable research them. Only buy from places you'd actually go into."

Use credit cards over debit cards when possible

"Your credit cards are covered a lot better than a debit card," Wallace said. "The safest way, even though it's not feasible, is cash."

Be aware of ATMs.

"Be aware of people standing behind you," Wallace warned. "And check for devices that read credit card numbers. See if the slot for the card physically moves—if it does, don't put your card in it."

Make sure you shred documents, like bank statements.

"Some people buy something and put their invoice in their trash can," Wallace said, noting the need for shredding.

Don't give away information over the phone.

"Only give information to someone if you make the call," Wallace warned. "The phone is where you'll see seniors getting taken advantage of."

Ramona Reader April 04, 2013 at 02:02 PM
There's a brief comment in the above article about local ATMs and devices that read credit card numbers. This technology is sadly making its way to Ramona. I know of at least 1 person who had her card skimmed and didn't even realize it until the bank notified her of fraudulent activity. These card skimmers are getting more and more sophisticated. Here's an interesting collection of articles on the technology. Be aware! Check your gas pump or local ATM for suspicious-looking bumps, loose parts, or misspelled wording. http://krebsonsecurity.com/all-about-skimmers/ It's an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse between the legit card reader manufacturers and the crooks who are trying to pick up on this information. By scanning your debit or credit card without paying attention to the machine scanner you may be putting yourself right in the middle. Another common method of skimming has happened at restaurants or other retail establishments when the employee takes your card out of your physical presence to scan it into a handheld reader. However, I have never heard of this in our little town.

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