Safety first for the holidays
RICHMOND, VA. - While Virginians are preparing for the upcoming holidays – making lists, shopping the malls and quaint out-of the-way boutiques, or heading
out to visit relatives – thieves and fraudsters are making their own special holiday plans to take advantage of preoccupied shoppers and travelers during the hustle and-bustle of the season.
Virginians can avoid falling victim to these criminals by being observant and taking
a few extra precautions while enjoying the season’s festivities. H.E.A.T. and the IFP
offer the following safety tips to protect you and your family from the grinches who
want to steal more than your holiday.
- Always lock your car and take your keys with you. Don’t leave your car
unlocked and running even if you think you’re only going to be a few
minutes. Twenty percent of the vehicles stolen have the keys left in them,
and half of the stolen vehicles are left unlocked.
- Park your vehicle in a well lighted area – preferably in an attended lot.
Always lock it, make sure the windows are up and take the keys. Don’t make
your car an easy target for thieves.
- Don’t leave any packages or valuables in your car in plain view (including any
gps devices). Always lock them in your trunk or cover them so they are not
readily visible. Thieves know cars are loaded with packages this time of year
and are on the lookout for them.
- Always approach your car with keys in hand and check the back seat of your
car. If you see suspicious activity or someone is loitering near your car, don’t
approach it, and if possible, notify the police.
- Be wary of people who offer you the right-of-way out of a parking space or
indicate that it’s okay to proceed. Scammers will motion to you that it’s okay
to pull out of a parking space, only to have their accomplice run into you with
their vehicle, which may lead to your insurance company having to foot the
bill for vehicle repair and possible bogus bodily injury claims.
- When driving, don’t follow too closely. You may be setting yourself up to be
the victim of a staged crash if the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly.
- If you are in a vehicle crash, be wary of individuals who don’t want to notify
the police or get a police report. Also make note of the number, ages, sex
and race of the occupants of the other vehicle along with the license plate
- Use your cell phone camera to document both vehicles’ damages, even if
there doesn’t appear to be any. A helpful mobile application, developed by
the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, is WreckCheck. It’s
free for both Android® and iPhone® users. It takes users through a step-bystep
process following an accident and includes other useful tips.
- Be mindful of people who approach your vehicle to ask for directions or
change, or to hand out flyers.
- Winter cold can be stressful on your vehicle. Avoid being stranded by making
sure your vehicle’s maintenance is up-to-date and your gas doesn’t fall below
a quarter of a tank.
- Carry a cellular phone and know your emergency numbers: #77 for Virginia
State Police and 911 for local police.
If you have knowledge of a fraudulent insurance scheme or suspect you may have
been the victim of insurance fraud, report the activity to IFP on the insurance fraud
hotline at 1-877-62FRAUD (1-877-623-7283) or visit www.StampOutFraud.com.
You may also be eligible to receive a reward of up to $25,000.