Security dangers and tips

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By Philip S. Chua

Credit card/identity fraud

Did your credit card data just got stolen, while your card was in your purse or wallet? Yes, today’s technology in the hands of thieves makes it very easy for them to steal your personal data, even your identity, without opening your purse or wallet, all by simply coming close to you, within an inch or less. Their tool: a card reader, similar to what stores use, where you swipe or insert your credit card to pay. The reader is in a gadget like an iPad or tablet, hidden in a thin case, which thieves hold close to you or bump onto you to “read” your card or passport data, any item with a bard code. Identity theft causes a devastating nightmare and a severe emotional trauma, besides potential financial ruin.

TIP: Instead of paying for RFID pockets to protect your cards, you can simply use regular aluminum foil in your kitchen. Fold it about 4 layers, the same size of your cards or passport, and place one on either side, sandwiching the cards, or make an aluminum pouch for them.

Your Car Remote: Unsafe?

Criminals are now able to easily open your car doors you closed using your remote car key. When you click your remote key fob to open or close your car doors, there is a distinct electronic sound frequency – RF signal – between 315 to 390 MHz – that is transmitted from your remote to your car security system to turn on or turn off the door (and truck) lock. High tech criminals are now able to find the correct frequency through their “code grabbers” that could record and re-transmit a signal to open your vehicle door. A friend of mine, whose is a security freak, lost all the gifts she bought and stored in the trunk of her car while she did more shopping. Apparently, a thief nearby in the parking lot used a code grabber to gain entry into her Mercedes.

TIP: For decades, about 5 years since car remote was introduced, when my research about electronic fraud and scams revealed the vulnerability of RF signals for lock systems, my wife and I have been opening and locking our car doors manually…the safer old fashion way. This has been a habit, a second nature for us to this day. And the painful experience of our friend reinforced our practice.

Garage doors also a target!

Thieves are also utilizing the same modern technology – code grabber – RF signal copier – to open garage doors. In spite of the 12 DIP pins system that gives each garage opener unit a unique code, somehow, these high-tech robbers are still able to outsmart this security system.

TIP: It is impractical and inconvenient to always turn OFF the main electric switch of the garage door system after driving the car outside and then exiting through the front door, and doing the exact opposite routine (going thru the front door and switching ON the garage opener upon return, etc.). Connecting your garage door opener to a wireless (cellular) Smart Switch Outlet and control the opener with your smart phone is an alternative. The other option is to include your garage in your monitored home security system. A regular key or keypad mounted outside the garage door does not prevent any thief with a code grabber from opening your garage door.

Gifts stolen at your front door

This holiday season alone, news about stolen Christmas gifts, parcels just left by the delivery man at the front door or by the gate are common. Some of  these instances were even caught on security cameras. Many thieves are unthinking and stupid, and come to think of it, they are stupid and crooked the reason they steal in the first place. Surveillance cameras are now widely used. And they are now reasonably priced, countless wireless versions and brands (used with your phone Apps for monitoring even while you are in another country) costing less than $100.

TIP: Many online store and shipping companies now accept preferences for delivery options for security. For one, I instruct Amazon.com, UPS, USPS, FEDEX personnel to go through our gate and place packages by our front door, which has an active WiFi security camera plus Ring doorbell, both of which video-tape all motion detected and send me notification instantly on my cell phone 24/7. Amazon, for one, provides the option (if you request it) for its delivery staff to enter your front door to place the parcels inside your home, with your special “extra” code to your security alarm and keyless door entry). Privacy is, of course, a concern. One other option is to have a large mail chute by your garage door, or for someone to be home to receive the packages, which is the safest.

Shooting a home intruder?

When an intruder breaks into your home or threatens your life, do you have a legal right to shoot? Here’s what legal experts at Wikipedia say:

 “A stand-your-ground law(sometimes called ‘line in the sand’ or ‘no duty to retreat’ law) establishes a right by which a person may defend one’s self or others (right of self-defense) against threats or perceived threats, even to the point of applying lethal force, regardless of whether safely retreating from the situation might have been possible. Such a law typically states that an individual has no duty to retreatfrom any place where they have a lawful right to be (though this varies from state to state) and that they may use any level of force if they reasonably believe the threat rises to the level of being an imminent and immediate threat of serious bodily harm and/or death.

The castle doctrineis a common law doctrine stating that persons have no “duty to retreat in their home, or “castle”, and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend their property, person, or another. Outside of the abode, however, a person has a duty to retreat, if possible, before using deadly force. Castle doctrine and “stand-your-ground” laws are acceptable defenses for people who have been charged with criminal homicide.

At common law, self-defense claims are not valid if the defendant could have safely retreated from danger (duty to retreat). The castle doctrine is an exception to this. It gives immunity from liability to individuals who acted in self-defense in the home even if they could have safely retreated from the threat and failed to do so. The duty to retreat is a legal requirement in some jurisdictions that a threatened person cannot stand one’s ground and apply lethal force in self-defense, but must retreat to a place of safety instead. Deadly force or lethal force is force with the intent of serious bodily injury or death to another person. In most jurisdictions it is only accepted under conditions of extreme necessity and last resort.”

TIP: As we usher in the new year, let’s all stand our ground for world peace and shoot for global understanding, love, and compassion among all nations and our fellow earthlings.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites:  philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com   Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

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