Safety at Home
Use these tips to stay safe and avoid becoming a victim when you are at home.
Inside Your Home
- Keep all doors and windows locked, even if you are at home or are just going out “for a minute.”
- Install dead-bolt locks on all doors.
- Don’t give maids, babysitters, or others working in your home access to your home keys or alarm codes.
- Re-key or change all locks when moving into a new home.
- List only your last name and initials on your mailbox or in a phone directory.
- Don’t give your name, phone number, or whereabouts on your answering machine message. Never say you aren’t home. Just ask the caller to leave a message.
- Consider installing a home alarm system that provides monitoring for burglary, fire, and medical emergencies.
- Leave outside lights on after dark or have outside lights controlled by a motion detector. Keep porches and all entrances well lighted. Check bulbs regularly.
- Keep drapes or blinds closed at night but leave some lights on.
- Leave drapes or blinds partially open during the day.
- Never dress in front of windows. Always close the drapes or blinds.
- Know your neighbors and keep their phone numbers handy.
- Have a friend or neighbor check on you daily if you are home alone.
- Try never to be alone in the laundry room or any other common area in an apartment building.
- Have government and other regular checks deposited directly in your bank.
- And ask about starting or joining a Neighborhood Watch program in your area.
- Call 911 if you hear or see something suspicious. Don’t take direct action yourself. An officer will be dispatched to your address even if you cannot speak or hang up.
- Plan an escape route from each room in your residence to use in a fire, break-in, or other emergency situation.
- Designate a safe room in your home that your family can retreat to and escape potential violence by home invasion robbers. Develop a home security plan for this contingency and make sure all family members know what to do.
- Arm your security system even when you are at home. And have panic alarm buttons installed around your home so they can be used in the event of a home invasion.
- Make sure your street address number is clearly visible from the street and is well lighted at night so the police and other emergency personnel can locate your home easily. Numbers should be at least 4 inches high must be used on individual dwellings and duplexes, and 12 inches high on multiple-unit residential buildings.
- Make sure your unit number (in a multifamily housing development) is clearly visible from paths in the development. A directory or map that shows paths and unit locations should be placed at the main entrance of the development.
Answering the Door
- Don’t open your door at the sound or a knock or bell. Know who’s at your door before opening it. Install a wide-angle peephole in your front door so you can look out without being seen yourself.
- Don’t rely on chain locks for security. They’re only good for privacy.
- Don’t open the door to a delivery or service person unless you are expecting a package or a call. Ask for the person’s name and the name and phone number of the company. Call it to confirm the visit. Keep the door closed and locked in the meantime.
- Check for solicitation permits before dealing with any solicitors, peddlers, interviewers, etc. These persons are required to obtain a card from the Berwick Codes Department and display it at all times. They are allowed to solicit only during certain hours. Call their agency to verify their identity.
- Call the Berwick PD if a solicitor does not have a registration card. Use the non-emergency number, (570)-752-3677 or (570)-784-6300. And provide the dispatcher with a good description of the person.
- Post a NO SOLICITING sign if you don’t want any solicitor to ring your door bell, knock on your door, or make any other sound to attract your attention.
- Ask for photo identification before letting in anyone you don’t know. Check out the identification with the company or agency if you are suspicious.
- Never let a stranger enter your home to use the telephone. Offer to make the call yourself in an emergency.
- Consider getting a dog that will bark when someone is at the door.
- Call 911 if the person at the door is aggressive in knocking or ringing the doorbell, or is otherwise threatening.
- If you don’t want to answer the door and don’t want the person there to think that no one is home, say something like “We can’t come to the door now,” or “We don’t open the door to strangers.”
Answering the Phone and Talking to Strangers
- Never give your name or number to a person making a wrong-number phone call or to anyone you don’t know.
- Hang up if you receive a threatening or harassing phone call. Call the BPD if these calls are repeated. Use the non-emergency numbers, (570)-752-3677 or (570)-784-6300.
- Don’t indicate you are home alone to anyone you don’t know.
- Be suspicious of all solicitors, especially if the caller says you have won a prize but asks you to send money first, says you have to act right away, fails to identify the sponsor, uses a variation of an official or nationally-recognized name, e.g., Salvation League instead of Salvation Army, offers to have someone pick up a cash payment from your home, says he or she is a law enforcement officer who will help you for a fee, requires you to attend a sales meeting, directs you to dial a pay-per-call 900 number, delays the delivery or a product or prize, etc.
- Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. Call (888) 382-1222 from the phones you want to register. If you have an e-mail address you can register online at www.donotcall.gov. Telemarketers check the registry every 31 days so it may take that long before your numbers are removed from their call lists. This should stop all but exempt calls from nonprofit groups, charities, political organizations, survey companies, and companies you have dealt with recently or signed a contract with that includes permission to call you. If telemarketers ignore the fact that your numbers are on the registry you can report them at the above number or website and sue them for violating your rights. For this you’ll need to keep a record of their names and the dates of the calls. If you receive non-exempt recorded telemarketing solicitations known as robo calls, now banned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you can file a complaint with the commission online at www.ftc.gov or by phone at (877) 382-4357.
- Never give your credit card, checking account, Social Security number, or any personal information to an unknown caller. Just say “no” and hang up on anyone who asks for personal information. Don’t ever assume a friendly voice belongs to a friend.
- Only give your personal information when you have initiated the call and are sure the other party is legitimate.
- Ask a charity to send written information about its finances and programs before making any commitments.
- Call the Better Business to check on any unsolicited offers.
- For additional information contact the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center at (877) 382-4357 and www.ftc.gov, Federal Communications Commission Consumer Center at (888) 225-5322 and www.fcc.gov/ccb/consumer_news/.
- Have the person driving you home wait until you are safely inside.
- Leave outside lights on if you’ll return after dark.
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages that obstruct your view and make it difficult to react in an emergency.
- Have your key in hand so you can open the door immediately.
- Don’t go in or call out if you suspect someone has broken into your home, e.g., if a window or screen is broken, a door is ajar, or a strange vehicle is parked in the driveway. Go to a neighbor’s home and call the police.
- Keep your headlights on until you are in your garage at night.
- Go to a neighbor’s house and call 911 if someone is following you on foot or in a vehicle. Or use your cell phone to call, but don’t go home while the threat exists.
- Be aware of any people around your home when you return. Go to a neighbor’s house if you have any concerns about your safety when opening the garage or other door.
- Close the garage door before getting out of your vehicle.
There are five main steps that you as the victim should take upon discovering that you are a victim of an identity crime. These steps are as follows:
1) File a Police Report. The victim is required to file a police report in order to dispute fraudulent accounts and /or transactions. On the day you file a police report, the Borough of Berwick Police Department will provide you with a one page report indicating the Borough of Berwick Police Department incident report number, the date and time that you made the report and your name and contact information. You will need to send a copy of the police report to each involved bank, creditor, other business, credit bureau, and debt collector in order to dispute fraudulent accounts or transactions.
2) Complete an “Identity Theft Affidavit” for each compromised or fraudulently opened account. The victim is required to prepare an affidavit stating you did not commit the fraud. A copy of an “Identity Theft Affidavit” that is accepted by most businesses, creditors, and debt collectors, can be obtained at the Federal Trade Commission Website:
www.consumer.gov/idtheft/. A copy of this affidavit must be coupled with a copy of the police report and sent to every creditor, business, and debt collector through which a fraudulent account or transaction has occurred.
3) Close all accounts believed to have been compromised or opened fraudulently. The victim should immediately contact the credit card companies, banking and other financial institutions and close all accounts that have been compromised. The victim can then work with the financial institutions to re-establish an alternate account to prevent further fraud.
4) Place a fraud alert. The victim must contact at least one credit bureau to place a fraud alert. You are entitled to receive one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus so that you may attempt to identify new fraudulent activity. The free credit reports can be obtained through www.annualcreditreport.com.
The three major credit bureaus are:
Equifax – www.equifax.com
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian – www.experian.com
P.O. Box 9530, Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union – www.transunion.com
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
5) File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The victim should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. This can be done two ways, on the “Identity Theft Hotline” at 1-877-438-4338 or on the internet at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.