Financial Security

Return to the Crime Prevention Tips Page

BankThe world is full of people who make a living off of stealing from others. They do this by stealing money and valuables from homes, or by stealing money and valuables from people using illegal con games or scams.

Keep valuables in a secure place

What is the best alternative for keeping your valuables safe? Home safes are not a realistic substitute for a bank safety deposit box for the storage of important, irreplaceable papers or small valuables. They do have limited value, however, because they are usually fire resistant.

If a home safe is to be used for security, it should be heavy (at least 250 pounds), highly fire and water resistant and imbedded in a concrete wall or floor. You should realize, however, even a mediocre safe cracker, given sufficient motivation and time, will be able to crack it. Safe

A much better solution to the storage of valuables is the rental of a safety deposit box usually located in a bank, credit union or similar institution. What should be kept in a safety deposit box? All irreplaceable or hard to replace documents, such as wills, birth, divorce and death certificates, adoption, military service or citizenship papers, investment certificates and other corporate, government or court recorded documents should be kept in the bank box along with irreplaceable photographs or negatives.

Also, keep proof of ownership papers for house, automobile, boat, or airplane in the box, along with documents relating to current leases, contracts, patents and copyrights.

It is also a good idea to keep an inventory list of all your valuable property in your deposit box. To keep an effective inventory, you should participate in Operation Identification (see form on page 52). This involves marking your valuables with your Florida Driver’s License number using an engraving tool, or an invisible marker, available free of charge from the Sheriff’s Office. Then filling out the Personal Property Inventory List in this booklet, including the property’s substantial value.

Avoid cluttering the deposit box with outdated insurance policies, canceled checks, old income tax records, education and employment records, and canceled or outdated bank passbooks and passports. These items should be stored safely at home.

Telephone solicitation and fraud

Telemarketing fraud costs American consumers more than $1 billion a year and victims stand little chance of recovering their money. You should be alert until you are convinced you are dealing with a reputable firm.

Some other advice on dealing with phone sales:

Beware of unfamiliar individuals or firms calling from out of state offering fantastic or irresistible bargains.

Watch out for products, services or investments accompanied by come-ons like super valuable prizes or free cruise trips.

Be suspicious of no-risk claims or iron clad promises of huge financial rewards.

Always resist pressure to act immediately before it’s too late. Telephone hustlers often insist money be sent right away or you will lose out on the deal of a lifetime.

Make it a rule to ask advice of a knowledgeable relative, friend, financial advisor or attorney before investing your money.

NEVER give out your credit card number over the phone to unsolicited callers from unfamiliar firms.

Don’t fall for fancy mailing addresses or testimonials from hundreds of satisfied customers. This is no guarantee of reliability.

Remember, when dealing with telemarketing solicitations, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Financial solicitation requests over the phone are also something to watch out for. A large number of requests for financial contributions are legitimate. Without financial assistance, many organizations would be unable to help people who are in need. There are, however, groups who falsely represent themselves as charitable organizations. Anyone legitimately soliciting funds by phone should be able to answer six basic questions to show they are legitimate:

Are they registered with the Secretary of State Division of Licensing?

Who benefits from this solicitation?

How much of the money goes to overhead, administrative costs, etc.?

How does the community benefit from the money I give?

Are you calling locally, and is there a local number where I can call you back?

Is there someone locally that I can call to verify this is a legitimate organization and request?

If the person calling can’t answer these questions to your satisfaction, then don’t send them a contribution.

Con artists and scams

There are a great number of common scams used by criminals and con artists to take your money and give nothing in return. Many victims of such scams are elderly people, but remember, anyone can become a victim of such a crime.

One popular criminal operation is for a person to approach a homeowner offering to do home repairs. The criminal than either asks for payment in advance for the work, or does a small amount of work, then takes payment before the homeowner realizes all the work was not done, or was done poorly. When someone like this comes to your door, ask for identification, local references, and a license or other proof of his legitimacy before agreeing to the work.

If someone offers to sell you something at an unbelievably low price, don’t believe it! Many criminals sell stolen property in this manner, and you can get into trouble for buying such stolen property. Again, ask the person for identification, a license to sell the property, local references or papers which would prove the legitimacy of the property before considering a purchase.

Investment schemes are also popular. If a person offers to invest your money for you, don’t give him your money until you have investigated him and his investment ideas thoroughly.

If you think someone is trying to con you, call the Sheriff’s Office immediately and a deputy will respond and investigate.