December 19, 2020

Happy Holidays

 As 2020 finally draws to a close, we wanted to thank you for supporting the Virginia-Highland Security Patrol, and to wish you happy holidays!



We also wanted to remind everyone that the VHSP is a 501c3 non-profit. So if you’re thinking about making some end-of-the-year charitable donations, please keep us in mind! We’re working toward adding more patrols, and every little bit helps. Unlike VHSP dues, all one-off donations are tax deductible.

Thanks for your time and consideration. We hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe 2021.





or send a check to: Virginia-Highland Security Patrol P.O. Box 8032, Atlanta, GA 31106

November 30, 2020

Report for the Virginia-Highland Security Patrol for December 2020

October 25, 2020 through November 22, 2020

The Activity Report is a summary of what our FBAC Patrol Officers do on their shifts

Directed Patrols:  30

Drop ins/Park and Walks:  29

Suspicious person:  5

Alarm Response:  3

Suspicious Vehicle:  3

Parking Complaints: 0

Noise Complaints:  0

Out of town Checks:  9

Abandoned Auto:  0

VAHI Patrol Member Contact: 4

Lost Person:  0

Street Obstruction:  0

Wanted Persons:  0

Intoxicated Persons:  4

Found Property:  0

Criminal Trespass:  0

Info for Officers:  3

Shots Fired:  0

Calls for service (cell Phone):  4

 

 

 

News and Notes

 

NO SIGNIFICANT INCIDENTS THIS REPORTING PERIOD THRU 11/22/2020

Cyber Shopping Tips

Don’t open email attachments from retailers and shippers

A common scam hackers use is introducing malware via email attachments, and during the holiday sale season, they’ll often send malware under the guise of offer emails and shipping notifications. Know that retailers and shipping companies won’t send things like offers, promo codes, and tracking numbers in attachments. They’ll clearly call those things out in the body of an email instead.

Carefully review links and email addresses

A classic scammer move is to “typosquat” phony email addresses and URLs that look awfully close to legitimate addresses of legitimate companies and retailers. They often appear in phishing emails and instead of leading you to a great deal, these can in fact link you to scam sites that can then lift your login credentials, payment info, or even funds should you try to place an order through them.

Watch out for copycat deals and sites

A related scammer trick that also uses typosquatting tactics is to set up sites that look like they could be run by a trusted retailer or brand but are not. These sits may tout a special offer, a great deal on a hot holiday item or whatnot, yet such sites are one more way cybercriminals harvest personal and financial information. A common way for these sites to spread is by social media, email, and other messaging platforms. Be skeptical of any links you see there—it’s best to go to the site directly and look for the deal there.

Use protection while you shop

Using a complete security software suite can offer layers of extra protection while you shop, such as web browser protection that will block malicious and suspicious links that could lead you down the road to malware or a financial scam.

Diversify and protect your passwords

Using the same narrow set of passwords only helps hackers. If they hack one account, they can then hack others—simply because that same password is in use over and over. Use a password manager that can create strong passwords and store them securely as well. That’ll save you some hassle and keep you safer in the process.

Use two-factor authentication on your accounts

Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of defense on top of your username and password. It adds in the use of a special one-time-use code to access your account, usually sent to you via email or to your phone by text or a phone call. In all, it combines something you know, like your password, with something you have, like your smartphone. Together, that makes it tougher for a crook to hack your account. If any of your accounts support two-factor authentication, put it into place.

Use a VPN if you’re shopping on public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi in coffee shops and other public locations can expose your private surfing to prying eyes because those networks are open to all. Using a virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your browsing, shopping, and other internet traffic, thus making it secure from attempts at intercepting your data on public Wi-Fi and harvesting information like your passwords and credit card numbers.

Use a credit card instead of your debit card

Specific to the U.S., the Fair Credit Billing Act offers the public protection against fraudulent charges on credit cards, where citizens can dispute charges over $50 for goods and services that were never delivered or otherwise billed incorrectly. Note that many credit card companies have their own policies that improve upon the Fair Credit Billing Act as well. However, debit cards aren’t afforded the same protection under the Act. Avoid using those while shopping online and use your credit card instead.

Consider getting a virtual credit card

Another alternative is to set up a virtual credit card, which is a proxy for your actual credit card. With each purchase you make, that proxy changes, which then makes it much more difficult for hackers to exploit. You’ll want to research virtual credit cards further, as there are some possible cons that go along with the pros, such as in the case of returns where a retailer will want to use the same proxy to reimburse a purchase.

Keep a close eye on your credit reports

With all the passwords and accounts we keep, this is important. Checking your credit will uncover any inconsistencies or outright instances of fraud. From there, you can then take steps to straighten out any errors or bad charges that you find. In the U.S., you can run a free credit report once a year with the major credit reporting agencies. Just drop by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website for details on your free credit report.

Shop happy! (Don’t give in to stress and scarcity.)

One aspect of cybercrime that deserves a fair share of attention is the human element. Crooks have always played on our feelings, fears, and misplaced senses of trust. It’s no different online, particularly during the holidays. We all know it can be a stressful time and that we sometimes give into the pressure of finding that hard-to-get gift that’s so hot this year. Crooks do too, and they’ll tailor their attacks around those.

So, while you’re shopping online this year, take a deep breath before you dive in. Double-check those deals that may look almost too good to be true. They may be a scam waiting to spring—and indeed be too good to be true after all.

If you see someone or something suspicious, please report it to the police.  When driving or out walking keep an eye out in the neighborhood, what you see and report just might prevent a crime.

Reminder:  All members call 911 first if you see a crime in progress or a suspicious person or activity, and then call the Virginia Highland Security Patrol Phone.

 

October 31, 2020

Report for the Virginia-Highland Security Patrol for November 2020

 CRIME STATS

Virginia Highland Security Patrol

September 21, 2020 through October 24, 2020

                                The Activity Report is a summary of what our FBAC Patrol Officers do on their shifts

Directed Patrols:  29

Drop ins/Park and Walks:  26

Suspicious person:  7

Alarm Response:  2

Suspicious Vehicle:  0

Parking Complaints: 0

Noise Complaints:  0

Out of town Checks:  12

Abandoned Auto:  0

VAHI Patrol Member Contact: 6

Lost Person:  0

Street Obstruction:  0

Wanted Persons:  0

Intoxicated Persons:  0

Found Property:  0

Criminal Trespass:  0

Info for Officers:  4

Shots Fired:  0

Calls for service (cell Phone):  3

 

 

 

News and Notes

 

NO SIGNIFICANT INCIDENTS THIS REPORTING PERIOD THRU 10/24/2020

Holiday Safety Tips:

For Your Car:

  • Be mindful of your parking spot and park as close as possible to the store. Try to shop during the day, but if you must shop at night, park in well-lit, high-traffic areas
  • Try to avoid parking near cars with dark tinted windows, or cars that obstruct your view
  • Do not leave car doors unlocked or the windows down /sunroof open, even if you’re just making a quick stop. Thieves are good – and fast – at what they do
  • Avoid a smash and grab – don’t leave anything in plain view in your car that could perceived as valuable (criminals don’t know that your duffle bag only contains gym clothes)
  • Prior to arriving at the mall, lock all valuables in the trunk of your vehicle. When at the mall, do not take packages to your car and then return to the store. Packages should be secured in the vehicle trunk only before leaving to go home or to another shopping center
  • Don’t fumble for your keys when you arrive at your car. Have them ready to use before leaving your home, job or the mall
  • Don’t electronically unlock your vehicle until you are within distance of your car door. And only unlock the driver’s door, unless others are riding with you
  • If you are ready to leave the mall and feel uneasy about entering the parking lot or garage by yourself, stay in the mall and ask for a security escort
  • Do not leave your vehicle unlocked at a gas station, even while pumping gas
  • When banking, be aware of your surroundings in drive-up ATMs and when returning to the parking lot from a walk-up ATM or inside the bank
  • At home, park your vehicle in your garage or lock your door when taking packages into and out of your house. Do not leave your keys, garage door opener, valuables (such as laptop computers, tablets, backpacks or purses) or items with personal information in plain view

While Shopping:

  • Shop with a friend. There’s safety in numbers
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash
  • Carry only the credit cards you intend to use
  • Do not carry a wallet in your back pocket. It should be in your front pants pocket
  • If you carry a purse, wear the straps across your body instead of around your arms or shoulders. Consider using a fanny pack instead
  • Don’t buy more than you can safely carry. Ask a friend or store employee to help you carry your purchases to your vehicle
  • Thieves or robbers often look for “high value” shopping bags with your purchases. When possible, slip bags/purchases in a plain bag
  • Use ATMs and credit card readers wisely. Have your card ready before approaching the machine and use ATMs in high traffic areas. Test them for skimming devices
  • Shopping with children?
    • Teach them how to ask mall personnel or store security employees for help
    • Make a plan, and identify

Personal Safety:

  • Dress casually and comfortably
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry
  • Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you
  • Be aware of your environment. Don't walk or park in poorly lit areas
  • Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by your devices – it’s easy to be caught off-guard while talking on a cell phone or posting an update on your tablet. Smartphone theft is a year-round problem, and the last thing you want is for your phone (and packages) to end up under someone else's tree!
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings
  • Consider having a chemical agent or loud audible alarm in your possession
  • If you believe someone is following you, cross the street, switch directions, walk into a store or restaurant. If you're really scared, yell to attract attention and scare off the thief
  • Keep a record of all of credit card numbers (and issuer information) in a safe place at home. Notify your credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused

 

If you see someone or something suspicious, please report it to the police.  When driving or out walking, keep an eye out in the neighborhood, what you see and report just might prevent a crime.

 

Reminder:  All members call 911 first if you see a crime in progress or a suspicious person or activity, and then call the Virginia Highland Security Patrol Phone.