Crime

Happy New Year and stay safe from stray bullets, drunk drivers and thieves

Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

Let me start with wishing everyone a Happy New Year, that it may be filled with lots of good health and happiness. As my Mom use to say, with good health you have everything.

If you’re hosting a New Year’s party, watch out for your guests — make sure they don’t have too much to drink, that they locked their cars and didn’t leave valuables inside. Thieves love parties and will go around checking cars in the neighborhoods. And if a guest drank too much and plans to drive home, take their keys and make sure someone else drives them. We don’t want them killing anyone on the road because they are drunk.

As the holiday season comes to a close, let’s keep close tabs on our credit card bills.

With all the shopping that we did the past month, we need to make sure that our cards were not compromised. So when the bills start coming in, pay close attention to the charges. I hope you kept all the receipts so you can match them against the bills.

Once again, I want to provide you with information in case you feel that you have become a victim of identity theft. Here is what you need to do immediately:

▪ Immediately close accounts you know or believe have been tampered with.

▪ File a police report and submit it to your creditors and others who may require proof of the crime.

▪ Contact the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file.

▪ File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. You can also call the FTC hot line at 877-IDTHEFT.

▪ Order your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to get one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year. You can get their names at www.annualcreditreport.com/ or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

▪ Correct all mistakes on your credit report in writing. Send a letter to the credit reporting agency identifying the problems item by item. Include a copy of the credit report and send the letter with a return receipt requested.

▪ Make a copy of all your credit card account numbers and bank account numbers and keep it in a safe place.

This past year was truly challenging for many of us, but by working together, staying informed and being involved we can continue to meet the challenges before us in 2018. Therefore, I hope to continue providing you with the necessary information to help resolve issues that affect your area. No concern is too little, so feel free to reach out to your local law enforcement or to our office for guidance.

In closing, I urge and plead with you not to celebrate the New Year by shooting in the air. The bullet that goes up must come down, so if you hear gunfire, please call the police immediately. We have had so many deaths with stray bullets that we don’t need to start the year with any more.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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