Q: I recently learned about scams involving personal checks. How can someone avoid becoming a victim of this crime?
A: The most effective steps are storing checks safely and destroying them properly.
When you receive an order of checks, review them to ensure they are correctly printed and that you received all of them. Store the checks in a safe, preferably locked, place.
If you find an error on your checks, fail to get an order for checks, lose checks or have them stolen, contact your bank immediately.
Voided checks, account statements and unused deposit slips should be shredded or torn into small pieces. Criminals search through trash to gain account numbers from these documents.
Don’t give telephone or door-to-door solicitors checking account information until you have checked out their company. There is no reason to provide this information unless you are authorizing a withdrawal from your account.
Review your account statements as soon as you get them. Tell your bank promptly about discrepancies.
Never put bill payments in your mailbox. When you put up the red flag for pickup, you tell everyone in the neighborhood there is mail to be picked up. Outgoing mail should be taken to the post office or placed in blue postal boxes. When using the postal boxes, check the pickup time. You don’t want to leave mail uncollected overnight.
Q: When I receive my bills and statements, I throw away the inserts. After talking with a neighbor, I realize some of those inserts might have been privacy notices. Is there anything I can do now?
A: From comments I have heard and read, you are not alone. The privacy notice inserts resemble “junk type” enclosures in bills and statements.
But all is not lost. Even if you threw away the notices, you can act any time to protect your personal information. Contact your bank or any other company and ask for a copy of their privacy notice and follow the instructions for protecting your privacy.
In the future, keep alert for notices when you open accounts and for notices companies send about changes in their privacy policies.
Always look over mail before you toss it out and remember that if there is personal information on it, shredding is the best disposal method.
Dec. 4: Thousand Oaks Council on Aging public meeting with program on “Independent Living — Aging in Place.” 1 p.m.; Civic Arts Plaza boardroom, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks.
Dec. 11: “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test?” seminar. 1:30-3 p.m.; Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley. For information and reservations, call 583-6363.
Representatives from the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program will help with questions about 2014 Medicare changes, Part D prescription drug plan changes, Senior Advantage Plans, new Medicare enrollment, supplemental insurance and Covered California. For information call 477-7310.
Monday through Dec. 6: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ventura County Area Agency on Aging Offices, 646 County Square Drive in Ventura.
Open enrollment will end Saturday.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my readers and wish them and their families a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362, or call 495-6250 or email betty@seniorconcerns.org . Please include your telephone number.

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