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7 Street-Smart Safety Strategies

07/16/2012 12:54 EDT | Updated 07/18/2012 10:42 EDT
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Being street smart nowadays calls for the same awareness and good judgment of the past, but it also requires acting wisely in new ways, given the digital age we live in. How to sharpen your senses so you can navigate everyday life safely and securely? Read on for a refresher on seven street-smart safety strategies.

7 Street-smart Safety Strategies

Select Secure Passwords And PINs

Between debit cards, online accounts and credit cards, it can be super tempting to choose simple passwords such as your birthday or address as your password so you can easily remember it, but these common choices are also what a thief will first attempt, too. Take the time to put some thought into choosing passwords that are relevant to you in some way, but aren’t obvious to anyone else.

Keep Your Home Secure

All too often, we make it simple for our home to get broken into. Lock doors and windows (and change the locks if you’ve just moved in). Keeping your keys by the door is convenient not only for you, but also anyone who quickly pops in to grab your keys and steal your car. If you have a habit of losing or forgetting your house keys, rather than hiding one under a rock or potted plant, give a spare key to a neighbour friend.

Stay Safe In Parking Lots

Don’t just pull into the first available spot you see. Choose to park in a spot that’s well lit, highly visible (where there are no structures such as dumpsters hiding you from view) and that has a clear path to the exit. When leaving and returning to your car, be alert and walk with keys in hand. If there’s someone handing out fliers or asking for directions or help, be wary and keep a safe distance.

Protect Your Identity

Before readily giving out your personal information such as a PIN or your social insurance number, if you were contacted via email or phone, consider taking the precaution of contacting the company yourself so you can ensure the phone call and request is a valid one with the company. When disposing of paperwork, such as credit card statements and insurance forms, be sure to shred them.

Online Date Wisely

Get to know someone first online before meeting in person. Protect your identity by using the tools the sites offer such as being able to talk on the phone without revealing your phone number and use your online dating profile name until you get to know someone better. Never reveal your home address even if they say it’s to send you flowers, and keep an eye out for red flags such as someone who’s asking for money or wants to immediately chat outside of the confines of the dating site.

Be Savvy When It Comes To Social Media

Be wise when selecting how much information and how public a profile you maintain on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. Sharing information about your family, birthday and more on such sites makes the job easier for identity thieves. Before adding apps, be clear on what access to personal information you’re giving to third parties. And much as you might enjoy announcing where you are using platforms such as FourSquare and Facebook Places, keep in mind this also lets the world know you are not at home.

Travel Sensibly

Keep a photocopy of your passport and other documents in a safe place when you travel in case yours gets stolen or misplaced. When you check into a hotel, ask for a general rundown of the safe and seedy areas. Try to blend in; this includes dressing as the locals do (this is not the time to flaunt your showy jewelry and clothes), keeping your camera tucked away, reading maps discreetly and carrying yourself as though you belong there.

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