Friday, March 15, 2019, the Marengo Women’s Club hosted a presentation on personal safety given by Chief Richard Solarz, of the Marengo Police Department and Leslie Pace, of First National Bank.
Both presenters discussed the many ways we can be robbed in this digital age. From old-fashioned purse snatching to new cyber-threats, our belongings, our money and even our identities can be snatched by nefarious predators.
“One of the most important things I tell people is to ‘be alert,’” Solarz stated. “Hold on to your purse or keep it in view while you shop. Keep your car doors locked—lock them as soon as you enter your car. Notice if anyone is watching you or looking over your shoulder, especially when you are typing any card or id numbers.”
Solarz spoke with even more concern about the increase in scams—in person, on the phone or by e-mail—that aim at duping people, especially the elderly. Pace agreed that these are of special concern. “Customers have come in to get large amounts of money from their accounts to send to a family member in need or to participate in a very good deal. We are alert to things like this, so we have diverted several people from sending money to people who are scamming them.”
The concern is the number of people who fall for the scams and send their money. “Once that money is gone; it’s gone,” Solarz stated. However he urges anyone who has fallen victim to such a scam or suspects they have, to report it to the police.
“Don’t be embarrassed to come to us. Your report can add to the information about the scam and might lead to catching a theft ring,’ said the Chief.
The question was raised about the plethora of scam phone calls and robo-calls in recent months. Solarz commented that it doesn’t work to put yourself on a no-call list. “The best thing to do is hang up,” he said. “And if you have caller id and can see it’s a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer it at all.”
Identity theft can happen by misuse of a credit card of social security number. Guard the use or your card carefully. Always check your bank and credit card statements as soon as you get them and report any false charge to hour bank or credit card company immediately. Solarz also warned the group to destroy any mail that has your address or any id numbers on it. “Dumpster diving is real common,” he remarked. Thieves take numbers from documents and even junk mail and use them to steal identities. Solarz suggests purchasing an inexpensive paper shredder.
Chief Solarz distributed a copy of a very useful pamphlet made available from the Police Department. It is titled, “Identity Theft: Protect yourself and Know What to Do.” The pamphlet includes many topics there wasn’t time to cover at this meeting. It is available for free from the Marengo Police Department, 142 E. Prairie St. Marengo. By Peg Bowman Personal Safety Presentation 18 April,