Police stress heightened awareness of ID theft

Published 7:03pm Saturday, November 24, 2012

With Black Friday come and gone, the shopping season for Christmas is now in full swing, and with every holiday gift shoppers buy they run the risk of thieves stealing not only their purchases, but their identity as well. Shoppers need to be aware of their surrounds and use common sense during this season of increased shopping.

“You’ve got to be careful of protecting your home, your identification, your credit cards and your debit cards,” Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said. “[There are] things that we have to do to protect our credit, to protect our welfare and our financial wellbeing; it’s all a part of being safe.”

Riley said during this time of year there are people who watch both shopping center parking lots as well as neighborhoods.

“Thieves are out there now, looking to see who’s bring home what,” Riley said. “It is so easy to open up a trunk or break the windows of a car. People out there looking for things of that nature, so that’s why you want to be aware of your surroundings.”

Riley said to put purchases in the trunk and once they are home, if they are placed under the tree, to make sure they are not visible to anyone who could walk by the window. He also encouraged people — especially women while shopping to be aware of the location of their wallet.

“Look at — is it necessary to carry a large purse with you or would it be beneficial to carry whatever money you have in your front pocket and any credit cards you may use in your front pockets as well, instead of tugging a large purse, which is going to be cumbersome,” he asked. “A lot of times we lose sight of what’s going on. You may set [your purse] down, somebody may walk up and either snatch the purse completely or reach inside and grab something, so that’s why you’ve got to be real aware of your surroundings, it is very important.”

Another thing shoppers can do to protect themselves this season is to hold on to receipts, Riley said.

“Make sure that you are given your receipts when you purchase something. That is hugely important,” he said. “Say you spent $200 at Belk, and you go home and your [statement] says you spent $300. Something happened along the line. So check your receipt. Especially when you are shopping with your credit card and debit card, go online and check your purchases. Make sure you’re keeping a good eye on your transactions.”

Riley also suggested shoppers use caution when entering their pin numbers and said to never give anyone personal information including a pin number, credit card information or social security number over the phone, especially if they don’t know the person who’s asking for your personal information.

“You’ve got to be careful. Even when you’re purchasing online,” Riley said. “Sometimes it may be best to call that retailer and get that exact email to make a purchase online, because you’ve got a lot of these dummy websites that can make a website look exactly like a brand name website. And you don’t even know it. You’ve got to be very careful with that. The technology now … people do a lot of things to try and get your information.”

Riley said shoppers should never be afraid to call the police if they see suspicious people or suspicious vehicles.

“That is key,” he said. “When you get out and you’re going into a parking lot, if you see some people standing around, pick up and call us. Dial our dispatch and say you see a suspicious person hanging around. We want people to … that is just so important.”

The non-emergency number for the police department is 874-6611.

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