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SCV Voices: Tips for avoiding theft

Posted: March 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Editor’s note: On March 19, The Signal published a story about a woman whose wallet was stolen by someone hiding beneath the racks of a clothing store while another person distracted the victim. Following is an edited version of readers’ postings on the online version of the story.


I am sorry this happened to this woman. I see open purses all of the time in shopping carts at the grocery store, contents displayed, car keys, wallets, cash.I carry a backpack purse which is on my back while I shop. Always have preferred that style of bag for convenience and security. Fashion is fine but when it comes to purses, utility and security are paramount if you don’t want to go through what this poor woman did. She did not deserve what happened to her.


I, too, really feel badly for this victim. She sounds like a nice person who was taken advantage of.Here are a few tips that seem to be working for me (so far):

If you put your purse in the seat portion of the grocery cart, run your arm through the handle.

Buy a purse with a zipper.

Take out all credit cards and gift cards you aren’t using that day.

If a stranger approaches you in a store, pick up your purse and hang on to it (hug it) like it was a baby.

Men, don’t be embarrassed to transfer your wallet from your back pocket to your front if you feel nervous of your surroundings.


For years now I have always carried my DL and Debit/Credit card and key to my car in my pocket — doesn’t matter if I have a purse or not.I constantly see older women (mostly) shopping and leaving purses unattended in their carts. I will always provide a friendly reminder of what could happen.

When filling up my car at the gas station, I always lock my doors when outside of the car. Usually women will park their purses on the passenger seat and it would be very easy to open the door on one side of the car while the driver is on the other.


One more comment ... don’t hang your purse on the chair in a restaurant or place on the floor. Unless you’re in a booth or against a wall, just keep it on your lap.


Even if eyes are wide open, sometimes you just never know. Our family went on a "family fill up" run at the gas station last year and all three of us got our cards jacked. Wells Fargo’s Fraud Department knew about it first and actually advised us.Since all three cards are tied to the same bank account number and purchases were made all across the country, they shut the cards down within 30 minutes of our original purchase of gas. Standard rule at our house these days is "No paying with a credit card at the pump."

When shopping and asked, "Will this purchase be debit or charge?" I always go with "credit" because with that type of purchase, ID is usually asked for. With the debit purchases, most merchants feel if you have the "pin" number, then the card must belong to you.


: I write checkID with a Sharpie on the back of any type of card I carry. I sign my name with a ballpoint over it, which you can hardly see at all but is part of the agreement terms.I got rid of my debit card years ago and only have an ATM card with no possibility of being used as a debit card. I got my credit card info stolen twice. Both times my credit card company notified me right away of suspicious charges and I wasn’t responsible for any of them. I now pay for gas only with cash; if I don’t have cash on me, I go inside to pay.


Also, destroy the three-digit security "code" on the back of all your cards. It’s nevertoo late to do this. ... If you have several credit cards, like we do, prepare a safeguarded list with the last four digits of the card account number with the three-digit security code.Keep this list in a safe place. When you go out to dinner and pay with any type of debit or credit card, the waitress cannot read any codes on the back of your card. This makes it extremely difficult for anybody to make online purchases fraudulently. You will always be asked for this three-digit code when ordering something online or over the phone. So, you’ll need to access this paperwork when you make an online purchase.

Also, for your added protection, get into the habit of memorizing that three-digit code on the card you use frequently because you never know when you’ll need it away from home.

We have several cards in our family, so it would be very difficult to memorize all codes and match it to that particular card. Again, scrape all digits off the back of the card.

And most certainly, use a Sharpie permanent marker for printing "See Driver’s License" on the back signature block.


Lots of great suggestions ... thanks for all the tips and support!


You’re all welcome! Together, we can make it much harder for the thieves to succeed. We can all imagine how much of a hassle it is to clean up our credit once it’s been hacked.


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