BY ANGELA MATUA
With identity theft on the rise, a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) representative came to Wednesday night’s 112th Precinct Community Council meeting in Forest Hills to educate residents on the issues and solutions related to the problem.
Robin Eichen, a lawyer with the FTC, distinguished between different types of fraud that exceedingly affect senior citizens, including healthcare fraud, work-at-home fraud, phishing, grandparent family fraud, and romance, lottery and sweepstakes scams.
In advising residents on how to avoid becoming a victim, Eichen suggested that they shred all financial documents and paperwork with personal information before discarding them in the trash.
Eichen also stressed that residents should avoid providing their personal information —including credit card numbers or their Social Security number — or any kind of payment to unfamiliar people. She said people or organizations who ask for money through the phone, email or mail should be properly vetted.
She also suggested that residents carry only what they need in their wallets. Items such as Social Security or Medicare cards do not need to be carried at all times.
Computer users should also regularly update anti-virus software and avoid clicking on unsolicited emails, according to Eichen. She also said that passwords should be made difficult for anyone to guess.
Victims of identity theft should report the crime to ftc.gov, the state attorney general’s office and a consumer reporting agency like Experian. Victims of identity theft can also call 877-438-4338.
Regarding local crime, the 112th Precinct’s commanding officer — Deputy Inspector Judith Harrison — reported a 1.8 percent decrease in major felonies this month. Though officers have been able to stem the rash of commercial burglaries near Queens Boulevard, she noted, the number of residential burglaries have spiked.
Most of the burglaries occur from the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the area bounded by Jewel Avenue to 65th Avenue and 68th Drive and 68th Road.
This area is problematic, Harrison said, because Forest Hills High School is located near the confines. She said one witness to a burglary said the two suspects involved looked like teenagers.
Harrison urged homeowners to get alarms for their homes, install security devices such as sensors or cameras and to always lock their windows when they are away.
The commander also outlined the precinct’s plan to prevent quality-of-life problems related to the summer concert series at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which begins on May 28.
“From a police department standpoint were going to do pretty much the same thing we did last year during the concerts,” Harrison said. “We have a contingency plan … my specialty units, Anti-Crime Units in plain clothes, my Conditions Unit will be around to make sure that people who have been drinking or maybe urinating in places other than a bathroom, that they’re appropriately dealt with and we’re going to continue to do that to make everything safe.”