Editor's Note: In this weekly column, I am going to write about what I've learned each week at the academy. Some of the topics that will be covered in this column and at the Citizen's Academy is identity theft, homicide investigation, self defense, and there will also be ridealongs with officers, a taser demo and an opportunity to participate in a service weapons shoot. The Citizen's Academy is held every Thursday at the Eagan Police Department from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
This past week's class was very interesting. We learned about Internet safety and identity theft, which is increasingly more common in our society today.
Detective Doug Matteson of the Eagan Police Department talked to the class about how to protect kids online. Of some of the statistics he went through during his presentation (from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), two really caught my eye:
- 1 in 5 kids (ages 10-17) receive unwanted sexual solicitation
- 40 percent of imprisoned sex offenders' victims were under the age of 12
Children are victims because of several reasons, including being too trusting, their desire for attention/affection, their desire for material things, they're curious about sex, and in court, often times they're not viewed as a credible source.
Matteson said parents want to know when they should allow their children to have a Facebook page and so on. He said that parents know their children best: can the child handle having a Facebook page? Are they responsible enough?
"Talk with your kids about the Internet," Matteson said.
For more information or tips on Internet safety, among other topics, visit: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PageServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=4307
He also discussed online shopping. There is still a huge chunk of our society that is fearful to put credit card information online or use online banking. Matteson is a fan of both.
"Use online shopping sites [like Macys.com or Amazon.com]," he said.
The sites are encrypted so many times, that he said it makes it extremely safe and your credit or debit card number doesn't get printed anywhere.
Matteson also likes using online banking. He said he checks his own account online up to three times a day, that way if something unusual pops up he'll catch it right away instead of having to wait three weeks or so for a bank statement in the mail.
In addition, Detective Paul Maier of the Eagan Police Department, gave his presentation of identity theft, fraud and forgery.
Some of the largest ways identity theft happens is by crooks stealing mail, wallets, purses, pulling people's credit report off the Internet or dumpster diving to find discarded mail or information.
A large crime the Eagan Police Department is dealing with, according to Maier, is stolen mail.
Using a mailbox flag is an open invitation to identity thieves, Maier said. "Do not mail bills from your mailbox!" He said.
Make sure you drop your bills off at the post office. Also, he advised to think about purchasing a lockable mailbox for incoming mail use. He said the price runs about $75 and this way only the mail carrier can open the mailbox.
He said it will more than likely deter criminals from getting inside, however, it doesn't make it impossible.
Concerning identity theft and checks, Maier said to make sure these items are not located anywhere on your checks:
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Driver's license number
- Phone number
- Full legal name
Make merchants ask you for more identification. He suggests on the back of your credit or debit card to put "See I.D. and sign your name."
Maier also reminded people to have their checks sent to their banks and not their homes.
Information on the department's drug task force and DUIs will be the topic of next Saturday's column. Stay tuned...