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Prevention Zone

Today’s Tech-Savvy Thief

Statistics show that a thief will take the “path of least resistance.” The more secure the situation, the less likely they will be to target it. With all the electronic gadgets available today, it’s likely you use at least one or two of them (if not more!). Here are some simple steps you can take to try and make things more difficult for a thief (i.e., more secure) so they may be less likely to target you or your home.

“Open, Says ME!” If your garage door opener is removable, and you keep your registration in your car (or other items with your home address), you’ve just told your thief where you live and given them a way to get in. And imagine that the thief located this information in your car while it’s in long-term parking at the airport – now you’ve also provided information that you’ll be gone for a long time. TIP: Take your remote garage door opener with you when leaving your car (even for a few hours).

“GPS, Take Me Home”: Was “Home” one of the first locations you programmed into your GPS? This, in combination with having a garage door opener creates a situation similar to the first scenario. The thief now has a way in to your house and can just have your GPS direct him straight to your house. TIP: Keep the “Home” setting, but change it so it directs you to a nearby location (e.g., store or gas station) so you can still find your way home.

“Hubby, Sweetie, Honey, Mom”: Take a look through your contacts list on your cell phone. Do you use nicknames for your loved ones, or do they use them for you? If you got a text from “Hubby” that said “In line at grocery store. Forgot PIN for debit card. Text it to me please.” Or from “Mom” that said “What’s our garage door keypad code again?” What would you do? More than likely you’d promptly text the necessary information. If the phone was in the hands of a thief, you have just given them access to your bank account or your home. TIP: Don’t assign nicknames in your contacts. In addition, if they are requesting sensitive information, confirm their identity by asking specific questions via text or, better yet, call and talk to them. Furthermore, if you DO confirm the identity and text the information, be sure to delete the text later, and make sure your “Hubby” (or Sweetie, or Mom) does too.

Don’t Get Gypped Using a Chip: Gotten a new credit card recently? Does it have the cool new “chip” technology? Well if it does, you may be at risk of revealing personal information because of the way it works. Chip technology uses a computer chip and radio antenna to transfer data – super convenient but they may be prone to the possibility transmitting when you don’t want them to do so (like when on a bus with your card in your wallet). They can actually be “read” through a pocket or purse using a relatively inexpensive reader. To help protect against this, purchase an RFID-blocking wallet or sleeve for your cards— they are not foolproof, but should help make it more difficult for a thief to “read” your cards.

Bottom Line: Take your time and think before acting, speaking, texting. If it doesn’t feel quite right, or if you’re revealing information that you would normally keep secure, pause and think it through before revealing it. As previously mentioned, thieves use their smarts and can be tricky. They will rely on the element of surprise, count on “typical” human responses, smile and be charming, look you straight in the eye and speak with confidence—all while getting you to reveal information or behave in a way that works to their advantage.

Visit Allstate Be Aware and Prepare and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety for more, helpful information.

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