The Holidays Bring Out the Best and Worst in People

We often read about the generous things some people do for complete strangers during the Christmas Season. But the opposite is also true. This is the time of the year when crooks come out of the woodwork.

As of October 22, 2014, though our economy is improving we are still dealing with what some call a "down economy". There are many people hurting and thus committing crimes they might not have performed if they had a job. We are all at risk and today I am meeting today with a prospective client who assures me was notified by a bank in Spain that he has inherited $9.5 Million from a relative he does not know. I told him at first blush I was afraid this was a scam. We will see.

Merchants are more at risk when the stores are crowded making it easier for crooks to "do their thing" unnoticed. One trick is the Booster Box. This large box or bag has a false spring loaded bottom. The crook sets it down over a slightly smaller shopping bag, purse or product.

The Booster Box is hollow and when it is placed over another item, the spring loaded bottom secures the item about to be stolen. It is easier for the thief to walk away when the stores are very crowded and people are bumping into one another.

It is during this holiday season that you see more customers placing their purse or other purchases on the ground or counter while they are shopping. The Booster box can also be placed over an item like a Gucci purse or shoes on a sales table. Like David Copperfield, all of a sudden ....poof.....the purse disappears. So now that you know there is such a device hopefully you will think twice about where you set your purse or bag down in an airport, hotel, coffee shop, department store or anywhere else a thief might be lurking.

Some thieves don't need any equipment to steal. While shoppers are in stores a car can be stolen without obtaining the owner's keys or hot wiring the car. The thief looks on the left front windshield for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) number. They write the VIN number down and either call an accomplice waiting at a dealership or go themselves to the car dealership's parts department and explain they own the car with that VIN number and they lost their keys. A new device to open the car will be provided to the thief... and then the rest is history.

Cell Phones are another popular target for thieves because they have private emails, bank account records, personal codes and passwords. Obtaining these items makes it easy to steal your money or ID. Often there are two crooks that work together with one bumping and distracting you and the other "picking your pocket."

Credit card information can also be stolen without taking the physical credit card. These sophisticated thieves have a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) which is half the size of a small laptop and costs less than $100. This card reading device, steals your personal info off your credit card. The Radio Frequency Identification is a tiny chip in our credit and debit cards. If your card has the symbol of 4 waves )))) or says Pay Pass, Pay Wave or Blink it has RFID.

The bad guys can instantaneously transfer your personal information from the RFID onto a hotel credit card sized room key. That room key becomes a "credit card" which can be used to swipe and charge things against your account. To avoid this put your credit cards into a protective sleeve that has an aluminum lining which can be purchased locally at "It's in the Bag". This type of theft can also occur with your passport at an airport so you should buy protective sleeves for both.

With respect to credit cards when you receive them in the mail write "ASK FOR PHOTO ID" on the back, instead of signing your name. That gives you one more level of insulation against the bad guys when they try to use your card.

Thieves are also known to wait in the parking lot at movie theaters and when you leave your car they break in and steal your registration and get the address of your home off of it or your home destination on your navigator. They can then burglarize your home while you are watching the movie.


A car loaded with wrapped gifts is very tempting to someone down on their luck or just plain crooked. Never keep your purchases in plain sight. Always use your trunk.

Another theft is stealing Library cards and checking out and charging DVD's that are then sold on the internet. If that happens you must contact the library to put a "hold" on your card.

Report lost or stolen checks asap so the bank can block payment on them. You should also notify your banker of suspicious phones inquiries such as asking for account information to verify a statement or award a prize. it is important to guard your ATM PIN and ATM receipts. Shred financial solicitations for credit cards as well as bank statements before disposing of them.

Creditors or businesses must provide copies of business records or fraudulent accounts or transactions related to them. This information can assist the victim in proving that they are in fact victims. However the first thing to do when you think you have been a victim is to contact the Riverside County Sheriffs Department so you have a report to provide to insurance companies or credit agencies.

Consumers will be allowed to report accounts affected by ID theft directly to creditors in addition to credit reporting agencies to prevent the spread of erroneous information. To obtain a free credit report you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com or 877 322 8228.

IF your credit card is stolen report the theft to the major reporting agencies below. Here is some helpful information to assist you in doing so:

Equifax 1-800 525 6285: to place a fraud alert 888 766 0008. To order a credit report call 800 685 1111

Experian (formerly TRW 1-888 397 3742 to place fraud alert. To order a credit report call 888 397 3742

Trans Union 1-800 680 7289 to place a Fraud alert. To order a credit report call 800 888 4213

Social Security Administration (fraud line) 1-800 269 0271

They say "Forewarned is forearmed!!!!" and "People Don't Plan to Fail, They Fail to Plan". So now Plan Ahead and be aware of your surroundings.

Dale Gribow, selected every year as "TOP LAWYER" by Palm Springs LIFE, is also AVVO PEER rated SUPERB by fellow attorneys. Gribow has been Man of the Year 7 times including The City of Hope and the City of Palm Desert.

For more than 30 years Dale Gribow Attorney at Law has been committed to protecting client's civil and constitutional rights. Regardless of whether the matter of concern is due to a Serious Accident, DUI, Business, Real Estate or Estate Planning matter, every case is treated with dignity and diligence. The Gribow firm offers a respected legacy of experience and success to all they serve thus making Gribow the attorney of choice for thousands of clients.

If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at his NEW number 760 837 7500 and or his new email.