Don't Make Yourself A Target For Pandemic-Related Crime

Many businesses have closed due to Covid-19 and more people are home than ever. That’s why we want to remind you how important it is to protect yourself from becoming an easy target for a crime.

The good news is that at this point, crime rates are at their lowest—mostly because people can’t move around as freely. And, a lot of individuals, especially in states with more stringent stay at home orders, have developed a heightened interest in what's happening around them. Some are doing this to keep an eye out for their more vulnerable members in their community—like the elderly or homebound. Others are doing it because they’re bored. This makes people, including those who are already criminals, less inclined to commit crimes because they are under the impression that someone is always watching. Some criminals don’t care.  Some criminals are very bold, desperate, unafraid, and possibly dangerous.

We don’t recommend incorporating your neighbor’s routine into your list of pandemic distractions. Beware of people who are calling or approaching you to offer services, like home repairs, landscaping, or grocery shopping. They may be planning to scam you.

If you do need to enlist the services of someone outside of your immediate family for housework, repairs, or something else, keep yourself safe. Ask for their information, write it down, and verify it. For substantial work and expense, get a background check if possible. A professionally conducted check of their telephone number to verify the name of record to the number can shed some light. Many people, good and not-so good, have telephones that are not traced to them when searched. Using an online search may not be good enough.

Availing yourself of the services of a state-licensed private Investigator can be an exceptional choice. Using a licensed P.I. doesn’t have to cost a lot, but the level of information is well worth the expense. Use the right tool for the job. An experienced investigator can give you valuable information in a no-cost consultation – before you hire someone.

If you have a brick and mortar business, make sure that you have security measures in place. Remove or properly secure any valuables—especially if the business must remain closed for an extended time. Limit property access to employees as well, to ensure safety. “Smash and grab” crimes are more popular now, with small groups of typically 3 to 8 people, smashing through the door of a home or business and stealing everything in sight.

Be sure to lock your vehicles. Park in a garage if you have one. Don’t leave valuables in your car. An unlocked, unattended car is a perfect opportunity for people looking for a quick smash and grab. These are the warnings you see whenever you travel.

Even as you are sheltering in place, it’s important to lock your doors and keep your valuables hidden in a secure location, not to the level of being paranoid or scared, just properly cautious and aware. Many people are facing unemployment and restricted access to essential resources, like money and food.  

If you are working from home or have family members that are using the internet for school or just as a way to pass the time, be sure to be aware of cybercrimes. Disasters provide ample opportunity for opportunists of all types. Savvy online criminals will be looking to take advantage of people due to Covid-19. Watch out for hackers, scammers, and individuals out to exploit children and the elderly. Remember to never give out any personal information online.

When you see an email, or a link within an email, you can confirm the sender’s email address or hover over the link with your cursor to see what the true link or origin is. If you do not understand how you can do this, you can call or open a chat with your internet service provider (ISP) or email provider, and they can assist you.

When you receive an email from what you believe is your bank, credit card company, mortgage company, or other trusted contact, look closely at the URL (Uniform Source Locator) address in the sent-from area. The URL or sender’s email and or domain address you see there must be accurate. If it is off by only one character, such as an extra or missing letter, number, or symbol, you need to be careful as this may be a trick. Simply conduct a separate search online for the trusted entity and call them directly using a number from their website. Do not try to use any contact information in the initial email you received. While on the phone, you can discuss the email you received, and the tech can confirm whether their company sent it to you.

If you are the victim of a crime, the best thing that you can do is call the authorities and report it. Ignoring it or taking the law into your own hands solves nothing and can cause more trouble than it’s worth. Remember, most crooks are cunning and may be prepared for the occasional victim that fights back. Use the police or a licensed private investigator.

You are responsible to be prudent and protect your property and family. No one else cares as much as you do. The time to be responsible is before something can go wrong. As always, we want you to be safe and smart. If you need the services of a licensed private investigator, contact Linked Investigations. We are here to help and regularly perform background checks, asset checks, and several other investigative services. We have been offering services in California, the United States, and abroad since 1982.

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