By Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore County State’s Attorney
As much as our smart phones and GPS gadgets make life easier for all of us, they also can be a great resource for thieves and other criminals to help them steal from us. Below are some scams which are making the rounds. Don’t become a victim. Read on and protect yourself and your family.
WHILE YOU’RE AWAY
A family went on vacation and left their car in the long-term parking lot at the airport. Someone broke into the car. Using the information on the car’s registration, kept in the glove compartment, the thieves drove to the people’s home and burglarized it.
What should you do?
If you are going to leave your car in long-term parking, do not leave the registration/insurance cards or your remote garage door opener in the car.
Someone had their car broken into while they were at a football game. Things stolen from the car included a garage door opener, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard. When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked. The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house and then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game so they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and how much time they had to clean out the house.
What Should You Do?
DON’T put your home address in the GPS! Put a nearby location (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS is stolen.
A woman’s handbag, containing her cell phone, credit cards, wallet, etc., was stolen. Twenty minutes later when she called her husband from a pay phone telling him what had happened, he said, “I received your text asking about our PIN number and I replied a little while ago.” When they rushed to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘hubby’ in the contact list and got hold of the pin number.
What Should You Do?
Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list. Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Dad, Mom, etc. And very importantly, when sensitive information is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back. Or just don’t text sensitive information. Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them. If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet ‘family and friends who text you.