Of course, an attitude of constant fear is counter productive, so a wise balance of awareness and trust has to be kept at all times. Below are some of the ways you can ensure your own safety and be aware of the dangers around you.
Vital tips to help you stay safe
Stay safe in the car
- At night, keep your car keys in your hands to prevent hanging around to search for them in the bottom of your bag or pockets.
- Fight back and run away if someone tries to attack you. Many abductors won't bother running after you. Your likelihood of escape is quite high in random attacks.
- Park in well-lit areas. If you arrive in daylight and know that you're going to leave when it's dark, park next to an office block with lights and a guard, or under a lamppost when possible. Don't be afraid to ask someone you trust to accompany you to your car if necessary.
- Keep an eye out for cars parked next to yours before you open your door. If there are people inside the car next to yours, treat this as suspicious.
- Reverse in your parking space if you know you'll leave when it's dark.
- Needless to say, don't pick up strangers in the street at night.
- Don't throw away the forms credit companies send to you, inviting you to borrow money from them. Remember that your name and address are on these. All a fraudster has to do is apply for the loan in your name with the ready-made form.
- When moving house, make sure your bills/bank statements etc, go to your new address. Again, fraudsters can steal your identity and access your important details to set up bank accounts. Here's a book I recommend. It's about protecting your identity .
- When you shop online, check that the web address changes from http to https before typing any details in. This tells you the site is secure. Look at the top (or sometimes the bottom) of your browser window. You should also see a padlock there.
- Don't respond to, or click on any email which says there is an irregularity in your bank account. These are always fraudulent. Go to your bank and speak to someone over the counter. If you can't do this, call your bank on the number you see on your bank statements.
- Make sure waiters give you the portable card unit. Don't give them your debit card to take behind the counter. It's very easy to make a copy of your details.
- Shop online with your credit, not your debit card. Keep the money you have in the bank safe.
- Never click on any link that says there is a discrepancy with your PayPal account. These are usually false. Always log in from a different window you have opened yourself.
Stay safe when going out
- Book all taxis in advance from a company with which you're familiar. Keep this number in your mobile phone so you can use it if you need to on the spur of the moment. Wait for a few minutes for a valid taxi rather than jump into one that might not be safe. Pool with friends if possible.
- Remember it's very easy for hackers to hack into taxi companies' radios. When you call for a taxi from a company you haven't used before, ask for the make and model of the car they're sending for you.
- Never programme your home address into your sat-nav. If it gets stolen it will lead criminals straight to your home. If you have to keep your home address in your sat-nav, save it by a different name.
- When in a taxi, sit directly behind the driver so he can't reach you easily. Make a phone call and tell someone (so he can hear you) where you are, the make, model and number of his car. If he knows he's been identified like this, there is no point harming you in any way.
- If you find yourself on a dark street alone, call someone you trust telling them (in a loud voice) where you are and what you can see around you. Keep the phone on while being aware of who's near to you. Knowing you have 'back-up' will make potential attackers think twice about harming you.
Stay safe at home
- If you have a safety chain, keep this on your door when you open it to talk to a strange caller.
- Always check the identity of work-men and engineers calling to 'check up' on various things in the home. It's okay lock your door and call their office to verify their identity. They wouldn't mind if they're genuine. They expect this.
- Be wary of young people (you don't know) calling to say their ball is in your back garden. It's okay to close and lock your door before going off to look for it. Let them wait outside no matter how cold or wet it is.
- Don't give information about yourself on the phone without first verifying that the caller is who he says he is. Ask for a land line if possible, then call them back if the call is important to you.