Child Safety Tips
What Parents Can Do To Prevent Child Abduction and Exploitation
Most of the more than 350,000 children abducted in America each year are taken by relatives. Random abductions by strangers are rare but terrifying; experts offer the following tips to parents for trying to avoid them:
* Teach your children in whose car they may ride. Children should be cautioned never to approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless accompanied by a parent or trusted adult. If a stranger asks for directions or assistance, the child should tell them to ask an adult.
* Create an atmosphere in your own home where your children feel safe confiding information about uncomfortable experiences. Ensure a sense of confidence in your children that you will believe them and be responsive to them if they need your help.
* Tell your child not to go out alone — always take a friend, sister, or brother. Teach them always to tell an adult where they are going, and never to take a ride with someone they don’t know.
* Discuss with your children whose homes in the neighborhood they can visit, and the boundaries of where they can and can’t go in the neighborhood.
* Make sure your children know their address and telephone numbers, and how to use the telephone. Be sure they know what to do in an emergency, and, if appropriate, how to reach you using cell phones or pagers. Make certain they do not tell anyone who calls that they are home alone.
* Don’t drop children off alone at malls, movies, video arcades or parks.
* Know where your children are at all times. Be familiar with their friends and daily activities.
* Be sensitive to changes in your children’s behavior; they are a signal that you should sit down and talk to your children about what caused the changes.
* Be alert to a teenager or adult who is paying an unusual amount of attention to your children or giving them inappropriate or expensive gifts.
* Teach your children to trust their own feelings, and assure them that they have the right to say NO to what they feel is wrong.
* Listen carefully to your children’s fears, and be supportive in all your discussions with them.
* Teach your children that no one should approach them or touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If someone does, they should tell you immediately.
* Be careful about babysitters and any other individuals who have custody of your children.
What Children Can Do To Avoid Abduction and Exploitation
As soon as your children can talk, they can begin the process of learning how to protect themselves against abduction and exploitation. Children should be taught:
* Never tell someone that you are home alone. If a caller asks for mom or dad, tell them that they can’t come to the phone right now and take a message.
* If you are in a public place, and you get separated from your parents, don’t wander around looking for them. Find a clerk, security officer, or other store employee and tell them that you have lost your mom and dad and need help in finding them.
* Do not get into a car or go anywhere with any person unless your parents have told you that it is okay.
* If someone follows you on foot or in a car, stay away from them. You don’t need to go near the car to talk to the people inside.
* Grown-ups and other older people who need help should not be asking children for help, they should be asking other grown-ups. If a stranger asks you for directions or assistance with a “lost puppy”, tell them to ask an adult.
* If someone tries to take you somewhere, quickly get away from them and yell or scream. “This man is trying to take me away” or “You’re not my father (or mother).” If you are riding on your bike and someone tries to grab you, hug the bike so that they have to pick up both you and the bike.
* You should always try to use a “buddy system” and never go places alone.
* Always ask your parents’ permission to leave the yard or play area or to go into someone’s home.
* Never hitchhike or try to get a ride home with anyone unless your parents have told you it is okay to ride with him or her.
* No one should ask you to keep a special secret. If someone does, tell your parents or teacher.
* If someone wants to take your picture, tell them NO and tell your parents or teacher.
* You have the right to say NO to anyone who tries to take you somewhere, touches you, or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.
10 Tips For Spotting A Scam
Be Suspicious If…
1) The caller claims to represent something that has the same as, or is similar to, a government agency or a well-known company. Scammers will try to gain your trust quickly. They will try to sound as legitimate as possible.
2) The caller will demand that you act on their “offer” right away or you will lose out; or you must act right away or suffer some penalty such as jail time or legal fees. Pressure tactics are common.
3) The caller may act like he or she has done business with you before. You know they have not.
4) The caller is unwilling to send you any written information or to give you any references. They want you to act only on what they tell you.
5) The caller asks for your credit card, calling card, or other number to “verify” your identification. Never give personal information to someone who calls you or comes to your door.
6) A caller may ask for your credit card, calling card, or other number to “qualify” you for a prize. Never give personal information to a stranger who calls you or comes to your door.
7) A caller asks for your Social Security number so you can “purchase products” or “qualify for prizes.” We can’t say this too many times: Never give personal information to a stranger who calls you or comes to your door.
8) You may notice persons lingering nearby while you are making a call from a public or pay phone. Scammers will try to spot calling card and other numbers of people using a phone.
9) A caller may claim that you have won a prize and you know that you have not entered such a contest. Callers who promise “something for nothing” is another common tactic.
10) They may as you to pay a “fee” before you can receive a prize or other “free” goods or services. If it’s free, then why are they asking for money…
What is identity theft?
There is a new face for fraud in the information age and it’s called identity theft. Identity theft is when someone steals your identity to obtain credit, loans and mortgages, establish utility accounts, and so on. The impostor uses these accounts to defraud you out of thousands upon thousands of dollars.
Here are some ways that identity thieves work:
* They open new credit card accounts, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
* They call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there’s a problem.
* They establish cellular phone service in your name.
* They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
Thieves commonly look for social security numbers, driver license numbers, and mother’s maiden names. While there are many ways these thieves can obtain this information, the following is a listing of the most common.
* Stealing a victim’s purse, wallet, or mail to obtain personal information.
* “Dumpster diving” is the practice of digging through someone’s garbage to find discarded personal information such as credit card bills or offers for new credit cards.
* Dishonest employees tap into customer and employee files to steal social security numbers along with other information.
* Retail employees who double swipe a consumer’s credit card to use the second magnetic swipe to create a new purchase.
* “Shoulder surfing” at an ATM to get PIN codes.
* Using phony Internet sites to entice consumers to provide them with their personal information.
What is being done to combat this epidemic? Recently the House of Representatives passed a bill, 84-0, that would require anyone found guilty of identity theft to face up to 5 years in prison as well as fines which could total up to $100,000 depending on the severity of the theft. While this legislation is currently pending, many believe that the bill will pass and become law.
How do you prevent identity theft?
Perhaps the most important step is to get a copy of your credit report each year and review it for any discrepancies. (Some credit reporting agencies will give you a FREE copy once a year, but if you check your report more than this, they may charge you.) Other steps you can take include:
* Carefully select to whom you supply personal information.
* Buy a shredder and destroy all material that has your personal information on it before you throw it out.
* Visit the US Government Identity Theft website at
While you may try your best to counter this growing crime, the thieves may be one step ahead of you. If you fall victim to identity theft, you may want to take the following actions:
* Contact the major credit bureaus and ask them to put a fraud alert on your credit reports and inform them that you wish to be called by creditors before any new accounts are established.
* File a police report. If they are reluctant to take a report, (sometimes police consider the creditors as the victims because they are losing the funds charged), insist that they take one. If they still refuse, ask to speak to the head of the fraud unit, and if all else fails, write a letter to the Chief of Police.
* Change your remaining account passwords.
* In extreme cases, you may wish to get a new social security number.