Bracing for Economic Turbulence and How to Defend Against Theft

The following is a guest post by Joseph Hall.

Bracing for Economic Turbulence and How to Defend Against Theft

During the last two gas crises of 2008 & 2011, the price of gas rose dramatically, and so did theft. Stealing gas, as a black market item, creates wealth for the thief and potential devastation for the average citizen.

For example, in Memphis, Tennessee, gas theft rings were prevalent in 2008, millions of dollars worth of gas was stolen when thieves stole ATM cards and swiped the card at the pump. It took on average, ten minutes for gang members to pump large amounts of gas, prior to the card being deactivated by the owner.

Knowing how to defend against the new crime wave is essential to your financial and emotional health.

First, keep your bank card on your person at all times. A friend of mine was pumping gas in broad daylight when a thief reached through an open window, on the opposite side of the car, and snatched her purse. (See: Gas Theft at Convenience Stores, NACS Online)

She was mortified. Her children were buckled into their seats, and he reached over one child to grab the purse and struck the child in the process. She asked the gas station for access to view the video tape and they refused he access. There is a warrant requirement for access to video surveillance systems.

Second, lock your locker at the gym. One of my friends is a member of an up-scale fitness club and did not lock the locker because of the internal honor code. When he returned, his clothes were still neatly folded as he recalled, and his wallet was still in his pocket.

An hour later, he discovered he was missing his cash and credit cards. Before he could report the card stolen, several thousands of dollars had been charged to his personal and corporate accounts. Police told him that it is common for this type of theft to occur. If your clothes look undisturbed, you won’t notice the crime until the accounts are drained.

Third, monitor your bank accounts. I helped a friend solve a very puzzling banking problem with some sleuthing and knowledge of money laundering. My friend checked his account one morning, only to find his account was suspended, and there was an extra $2700 in his account. The bank noticed suspicious ATM transactions and froze the account. (See: “ATMs Become Handy Tool For Laundering Dirty Cash”, WSJ)

He was shocked to learn that his account had been pirated online. His account information had been stolen and the account was shifted from San Francisco to Miami, and an ATM card issued to the new address.  When a check made payable to him for $3000 was deposited in Miami, the ATM card then was used to withdraw $300 before the bank froze the account.

A gas stealing gang was filtering money through his account. Let’s just call it small scale money laundering. My advice was for him to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They provide information on how to prevent identity theft situations from occurring (www.ftc.com), See Identity Theft or Identity Fraud & Safety.

If you suspect fraud, call your bank for advice.

Ask your bank if you can add special security requirements to ATM card usage at pumps and other retail locations. I have a stop order on any transaction that will lead to an overdraft situation. (See: “Debit card thieves get around PIN obstacle,” MSNBC.coM)

Additionally, visit the FBI website (www.fbi.gov) and file a complaint concerning online theft.

Fourth, use Internet protection software. Turn on your firewall protection. One second of access can cost you time and money.

Watch Fox News video: “Gas Thefts Rise as the Price at the Pump Soars”

Don’t be a victim. Be prepared for the masters of identity theft.

Submitted by: Joseph Hall, Daymar Institute, Health Care, Law, General Studies