Merchants are at risk with under-staffed stores that allow crooks to “do their thing”. With the “down economy” many people are hurting and committing crimes they might not have performed if they had a job. Many of our neighbors are drinking to stay “cool” and not using good common sense and commit uncharacteristic crimes.

One shoplifter trick is the little known Booster Box. This is a large box with a false bottom that is often spring loaded and when placed over a shopping bag, purse or product the spring secures the item inside the box.

Some thieves don’t need any equipment to steal. For instance a car can be stolen without obtaining the owner’s keys or hot wiring the car. The thief looks on the left front windshield for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) number. They write the VIN number down and then go to the car dealership’s parts department and explain they own the car with that VIN number and they lost their keys. A new device to open the car will be provided to the thief… and then the rest is history.

Cell Phones are another popular target for thieves because they have private emails, bank account records, personal codes and passwords. Obtaining these items makes it easy to steal your money or ID. Often there are two crooks that work together with one bumping and distracting you and the other “picking your pocket.”

Your credit card information can also be stolen without taking the physical credit card. These sophisticated thieves have an IPAD sized RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) costing less than $100. It automatically secures your card info from a tiny chip in your card as they walk by you in a restaurant, airport or department store. If your card has the symbol of 4 waves )))) or says Pay Pass, Pay Wave or Blink it has an RFID.

This RFIT info can be transferred onto a hotel credit card sized room key which now becomes a duplicate “credit card”. To avoid this place your credit cards or passport into a protective sleeve that has an aluminum lining.

I advise my family to write “ASK FOR PHOTO ID” on the back, instead of signing their name upon receipt of a new card. That gives you one more level of insulation against the bad guys.

Remember to report lost or stolen checks asap so the bank can block payment on them. You should also notify your banker of suspicious phone inquiries asking for account information to verify a statement or award a prize.

We all know that it is important to closely guard our ATM PIN and ATM receipts. You should shred any financial solicitations for credit cards as well as bank statements before disposing of them.

If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why. Credit reporting agencies must stop reporting alleged fraudulent account information when a consumer establishes that he or she has been the victim of an ID theft. Creditors or businesses must provide copies of business records or fraudulent accounts or transactions related to them. This information can assist the victim in proving that they are in fact victims. When you think you have been a victim contact the Riverside County Sheriffs Department so you have a report to provide to insurance companies or credit agencies.

Consumers will be allowed to report accounts affected by ID theft directly to creditors in addition to credit reporting agencies to prevent the spread of erroneous information. To obtain a free credit report you can go to or 877 322 8228.

IF your credit card is stolen report the theft to the major reporting agencies below. To make a fraud alert: Equifax 1-800 525 6285: 888 766 0008. Experian (formerly TRW 1-888 397 3742. Trans Union 1-800 680 7289. Social Security Administration (fraud line) 1-800 269 0271

I use to start my legal radio show saying “People Don’t Plan to Fail, They Fail to Plan” so being “Forewarned is forearmed