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‘Tis season to be hit by thieves

‘Tis season to be hit by thieves

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You could say ‘tis the season – for thieves that is. The holiday season brings out the best in so many people but there are always those around to put a damper on things.

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Most often in this day and time, people are being advised of the dangers they face online. Just in time for the holidays, the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs warned people about scammers, advising that a fraudster will often:

• Ask you to pay in prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire or bank transfer.

• Ask you to verify your valuable personal information.

• Ask for donations to a charity.

• Make an offer that seems “too good to be true.”

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The message is don’t be victimized and report what you believe are scams to the SCDSCA Identity Theft Unit at 1(844) TELL DCA (835-5322) or visit consumer.sc.gov and click the Identity Theft Unit tab.

But the risk to you and your money and merchandise does not stop when you leave cyberspace or the phone.

A new study by Security.org shows nearly 40% of consumers have been victims of package theft.

Online shopping from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 is projected to increase to $136 billion, a 13% jump from 2018. Driven by Amazon, the package-delivery industry is expected to reach $107 billion. This has created a new avenue for criminals and a new term: “Porch Pirate.”

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Key findings of the study that used the most recent FBI data on larceny thefts from buildings, as well as survey results from more than 1,000 consumers across the country, are:

• South Carolina ranks No. 5 with 2,289.10 larceny thefts per 100,000 residents.

• Larceny from buildings is the third most common type accounting for 10.6% of all cases.

• Larceny from vehicles in No. 1 at 34.2% and shoplifting is No. 2 at 20.8%.

Take note that theft from vehicles tops the risk list. Not surprising in that far too many people load their vehicles with gifts and other valuables in plain view – and leave them there. And incredibly often, vehicles are left unlocked, giving thieves a great opportunity.

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The crime problem, whether online or with your car and home, is not unique to the holidays but can grow worse during this season. That is exactly what no one but those committing the crimes wants.

Thieves don’t need extra help. Make things as difficult for them as possible. Secure homes and vehicles – and be willing to report suspicious activity. And watch out for your neighbors’ places and property.

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