Category: Safety Tips

Category: Safety Tips

Tips to prevent being a victim of fraud at an ATM

ATMs are the most convenient way for people to access their cash, and it is not unusual for the industry to experience peaked ATM usages during periods such as these. Unfortunately, our experience is that it is also around these busy periods when criminal elements increase their attempts to defraud unsuspecting bank clients. While all the banks in South Africa have plans in place to ensure a safe banking environment for everyone throughout this tournament, the banking industry also realises the need for their clients and foreign visitors to appreciate the implications of the World Cup festivities from a bank crime safety point of view. The industry is creating this awareness in order to prevent any post event inconveniences that may result from preventable crime.

Card skimming around ATMs remains a concern to the banks. Card skimming occurs when information stored on the magnetic strip of a legitimately issued card is stolen with a card reader. The information stolen in this manner is then used to manufacture counterfeit cards, or encoded on lost and stolen card. The most prevalent way in which bank clients’ cards are being skimmed in South Africa is through handheld skimming devices, and this usually happens after a client has allowed interruptions, or asked for help, from strangers while performing their ATM transactions.

The banking industry is also experiencing an emerging trend that involves the skimming of bank clients’ cards with sophisticated high-technology skimming devices that are attached to ATMs. Some of these devices are fitted with miniature cameras that capture clients’ PIN’s while the card is skimmed when it passes through a card reader attached to the ATM slot. While this trend is not at all prevalent in South Africa, we advise bank clients to be cautious and look out for any foreign objects attached to ATMs. Users of ATMs should also get into the practice of shielding the ATM key pad with their spare hand when keying in the card PINs, as this is one of the ways of ensuring that the PIN is not captured by cameras or prying eyes.

ATM users are advised to be vigilant and be on the lookout for people loitering around the vicinity of ATMs. It is also important to ensure that the ATM that you use is located in a well lit area.
ATM users should be sensible about the amounts of cash that they withdraw, especially if they are going to be carrying that money on their person. As a measure to prevent falling victim to cash robberies, you should never flash the amount of cash you withdrew from an ATM for all to see.

TIPS to ATM users:

ATM

– Remain aware of your surroundings without allowing anything or anyone to distract you while doing your ATM banking

– Approach an ATM only under the right conditions for your own security, be alert and conscious of your surroundings

– Choose a familiar and well-lit ATM where you are more visible and safe

– Scan the area for suspicious-looking characters before you approach the ATM

– Cancel the transaction IMMEDIATELY if you think the ATM is faulty; report the fault to your bank and try another ATM to transact

– Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM to avoid opening your purse, bag or wallet while in the queue

– Be cautious of strangers offering to help as they could be trying to distract you in order to get your card or PIN details

– Report suspicious items or people around ATMs, even faults

– Do not ask anyone to assist you with your ATM transaction, not even the security guard at the ATM or a bank official. Rather go inside the bank for help

– Never accept any form of goodwill from strangers at the ATM

 

CARRYING CASH SAFELY

– Do not openly count money after making an ATM withdrawal

– Consider the convenience of electronic banking instead of carrying large sums of cash with you. Use the account transfer facility of the ATM

– Be observant of your surroundings when carrying large sums of cash. If you believe you are being followed, report to the police immediately

– Do not allow anyone to distract you and avoid social conversations with strangers when carrying large sums of cash

– Avoid informing people (even close associates) that you are going to draw or deposit money at a bank

– The amount of money you have on you should be your secret. Boasting about it may put you at risk

– Do not carry cash in bank bags, briefcases or in any manner that will make it obvious to strangers as this may make you a target of attacks

– Don’t carry more cash on you than you actually need

Personal Security and Safety in Hotels & Guesthouses

traveling might be exciting and sometimes you get carried away in such a manner that you start discussing your traveling details with anyone, which may leave you in danger. minimize your discussions, only share with few people who might be family or close friends.

Hotel Selection

Larger, brand name hotels usually have processes in place to protect guests and they have hotel security staff on site. They train staff and regularly prepare for emergencies. Sticking to larger chains may help you avoid some issues.

Room Selection

Avoid rooms on the ground floor or second floor when possible. These rooms may be more vulnerable to thieves because their windows are more easily accessible. Safer rooms tend to be in the mid-rise section of the hotel—floors 4 to 10. They’re high enough off the ground to minimize exterior access but not so high that you would have difficulty in the case of fire or other emergencies. Do not entertain strangers in your hotel room. Be alert to overly friendly locals who may have criminal intentions. They may offer to take you to a “special” restaurant. Their use may be to offer drugged refreshments. 

  • Use the door chain or bolt lock whenever you are in your room.
  • Use the door viewer (peephole) before opening the door to visitors
  • Do not discuss your room number while standing in the lobby or leave your room key on restaurant or bar tables
  • Keep your room neat so you will notice disturbed or missing items quickly.

Privacy

Do not share your last name or room number with anyone. Often, hotels will only write the room number down on a sleeve that accompanies your room key. If the desk clerk says your name or room number out loud, ask to be checked into a different room. Most hotels train the desk staff to be “welcoming.” That can sometimes translate into unnecessarily chatty. The desk clerk isn’t the risk, it’s someone who is overhearing your conversation. Even innocuous questions like, “Where are you traveling in from today?” can give away information that could be used to target you. Be polite, but don’t give up personal information.

  • Be alert to overly friendly locals who may have criminal intentions. They may offer to take you to a “special” restaurant. Their ruse may be to offer drugged refreshments.

Identification

Most hotels require identification to check in, but not all IDs are equal. Driver’s licenses contain personal information, including your home address…where you aren’t located right now. In the past, theft rings have shared information about people traveling. The less personal information you give out, the better. Use a business address for billing purposes and check in with your passport. If you’re attending a conference or event at a hotel, don’t wear your name badge through common areas. Badges often include your name, company, and city, which may be enough information for a thief to impersonate you and claim they have lost their key.

Awareness

Upon arrival, check the lobby area and floor layouts. Make sure you know at least three different ways out of the building and at least two different ways off of your floor—usually the elevator and at least one set of stairs.

  • Familiarize yourself with escape routes in case of fire or other catastrophes.

Assurance

Always lock your door while you’re in the room. Never open your room door for housekeeping, security or room service unless you can clearly identify them as a staff member. When in doubt, call the front desk.

Valuables

Most business-class hotels have in-room safes for valuables. How safe these are is anyone’s guess. If you’ve ever discovered that you’ve left valuables in a hotel safe after checking out, you know how easily (and quickly) the staff can retrieve them. Just remember that. If you have something truly valuable (jewelry, lots of cash, etc.), it’s best to keep it on your person or leave it at home in the first place. However, for minor valuables, the hotel room safe will stop most opportunistic thefts.

  • Never leave valuables in your hotel room exposed or unattended, even in a locked suitcase.

Domestic Violence: Avoid Being part of the statistics

The tragedy and numerous reports of domestic violence situation is impossible to quantify. There is both a sordid history and an ongoing crisis; a crisis that has become normalized. Since 2000, approximately more than 20,000 women have been murdered by domestic partners, or “family terrorists”. Some of these abuses were reported earlier and some were not.

Does your partner …

  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals?
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly — grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets?
  • Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
  • Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want, like spending time with your friends or family?
  • Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson?”

Do you …

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

Without help, the abuse will continue. Seeking for help or getting out of the abusive relationship does not mean you are weak but it’s the means of saving yourself and the ones around you.

10 Tips to Keep Your Home Secure from Burglars This Holiday Season

Christmas season is the best time of the year. It’s a time for family, friends, and lots of merriment. Sadly, statistics also indicate that burglaries around this time of the year spike exponentially. This has a lot to do with the fact that burglars are aware that there are lots of gifts in the house and probably extra money lying around. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over 400,000 burglaries take place during the holiday season.

Keeping all of that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips for you to protect your home and keep it secure during the holidays.

1. Put Your Lights on a Timer

Another quirk that burglars are known for is getting down the perfect time to break into a home. They do this by waiting for signs of inactivity or absence of occupants. One tell-tale sign that broadcasts that no one is home is when the lights are off.

That’s why you should put your Christmas lights, as well as some lights on the interior and exterior of your home on a timer. With these lights on, a burglar won’t feel so sure about the fact that your house is empty.

2. Create the Illusion of Someone Home

Beyond setting your lights on a timer, you can also set the television and radio on a timer to create the typical noise and flickering lights of an average family home at night. But wait, that’s not all! Leave a car in the driveway. Arrange for someone to mow at least once a week (an unruly lawn is as bad as a pile of mail). During the winter, arrange for snow removal in case of a storm (neighborhood kids are great for this, if you get their parents’ word that they’ll remember). If you normally leave toys outside, or keep a hose unrolled, or do anything that shows signs of a home being lived in, don’t tidy up too much before you leave.

3. Unplug

Unplug all unnecessary appliances (except those on timers, of course) to protect your home from an electrical fire or power surge. This goes for the big stuff, like TVs, but also for your toaster, your coffee maker, and other small appliances.

4. Hide the Hide-a-Key

It’s impossible to forget your key if you’re not even home, so go ahead and take any hidden spare keys out of commission. Just don’t forget to re-hide them when you return!

5. Make Use of Motion Sensors

Motion sensors trip when they detect movement around a certain perimeter. They can activate lights, or an alarm. Setting up motion sensors on your property is a good way to effectively deter anyone from breaking into your home.

6. Secure Your Home

Last but not least, make sure your home is secure during the holiday season. Check your windows and doors to make sure all locks are intact. If you don’t have one already, invest in a home security system which will protect your home and your family.

Christmas season is a merry and busy time. Unfortunately, burglars and thieves try to cash in on the spoils of the season by burglarizing homes. For this reason, you should take proper steps to ensure that your home is secure from all possible threats. By taking these steps, you can effectively reduce the chances of becoming a victim to a burglary.

7. Be Careful About Disposing of Packaging

If you’ve gotten gifts during the holiday season, you may get so caught up with enjoying them that you don’t pay attention to disposing of the packaging. If you put the packaging out in the trash, which will then be sitting by the curb waiting to be picked up, you’re basically telling the whole world what sort of gifts are inside.

Burglars are always on the lookout for such garbage items.  That’s why you need to be very careful about disposing the packaging.

8. Keep Your Cool

Turn down (or up) the thermostat to save on electricity while you’re gone. In the winter, set the heat to about 55° – warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing, but cool enough to save – and during the summer, set your air-conditioning to 85°. You can also lower the temperature on your water heater.

9. Safe-Keep Your Valuables

Lock up jewelry, the deed to your home, wills, and any other valuables or sensitive documents in a fire-proof safe.

10. Make Sure Gifts Aren’t Visible From Outside

It’s such a common sight during this time of the year – a frosted window from which you can see a beautiful Christmas tree all lit up, with dozens of gifts underneath it. This sight is enough to make a potential burglar size up your house. With all those gifts in plain sight, how are they supposed to resist?

That’s why you need to make sure that your tree and the gifts underneath it are not visible from outside.  Remove temptation and you reduce the chances of becoming a burglary victim.

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