published Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Phillips: Protecting what you own from thieves

by Ellen Phillips

Last week I discussed simple methods to protect ourselves from thieves. Following up this week are six ways to stay safer that we might not think about when contemplating self-protection tactics.

  1. Maintain a financial inventory. I do this at least once a year for peace of mind. Take all your credit cards; list the account numbers, addresses and customer service/fraud phone numbers. Hide this info in a safe place in the event any of the cards become lost or stolen.

  2. Watch out for impostor fraud. The Federal Trade Commission alerts consumers about tricksters claiming to be a family member who needs money (grandchild in jail, cousin who's lost her billfold and needs money, and so forth). These creeps also claim to be IRS agents, bill collectors, bank representatives, and the like who are trying to defraud you of some hard-earned money or to gain access

to personal information.

  1. Change your PIN. Habitually change this secret code -- at least a few times a year -- which affords you security against both thieves and skimming practices.

  2. Parallel park your car. I chuckled when I noted this tip until I discovered the rationale behind it. Bandits are stealing new cars by putting them on a flatbed truck. Obviously, if you parallel park, you make it very tough for a truck of any kind to gain access to your vehicle.

  3. Create a new Wi-Fi password. If you have a home wireless network, choose the highest security options to protect yourself against problems with Web browsing and money transactions. Even better, create your own administrative password; don't reply upon a default password.

  4. Hide the goodies stored in your car. When visible, electronics, purses and other valuables scream "Take me, take me!" to a less-than-innocent onlooker. If you must leave anything in the car, place them in the trunk at a safe location.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at under Local Business.

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