Jonathan Edewards

Warehouses, Factories, and Shipments face Higher Theft Risk during Holidays

Since most businesses are closed for extended periods over the holidays, and people are preoccupied with celebrations, businesses are especially vulnerable to theft over the Christmas weekend.

Protect your business by taking precautions beforehand.

Recommendations for Shipments via Truck:

Staging

  • Secure your lot.  High-value cargo should be staged in an extra secure compound (for example, the compound should have a chain link fence of 9-gauge material at least 8 feet high and topped with barbed wire, properly anchored).
  • Use a Security Patrol in your lot.
  • Secure trailers while they are being staged. King Pin Locks and landing gear locks are recommended, with high security locks on the cargo doors.

On the Road

  • Close truck doors before pulling out into open view in the lot so that surveillance efforts cannot see what has been loaded on to departing trucks.
  • Ensure your “Red Zone” is implemented.  A minimum “Red Zone” of 200 to 250 miles. (The Red Zone area is the distance wherein the driver does not stop after pick-up).
  • Encourage open internal communications and the reporting of any “out of norm” occurrences.
  • Drivers should remain vigilant and maintain communication with their dispatch during extended stops at high risk areas such as truck stops and rest areas.
  • Drivers and warehouse workers should not discuss any details regarding loads with anyone; specifically drop locations, routes, or contents.
  • Consider a no-drop policy, keeping the trailer married to the tractor so that the tractor and trailer can be secured.
  • Air Cuff® Locks  or other are recommended for securing tractors anytime the driver is away from the truck

Additional On-the-Road Security

  • For High Value / High Target Loads, consider using covert tracking devices which will enable geo-fencing during stops and tracking in the event of a theft. Employ theft prevention devices to disable fuel, hydraulic, and/or electrical systems.
  • Shippers that utilize covert tracking systems should geo-fence and route fence staged loads.
  • Consider installing a sensor to alarm the driver when the trailer door is breached.

Recommendations for Warehouses & Manufacturing/Distribution Facilities:

Warehouse Personnel

  • Instruct warehouse personnel never to divulge any proprietary codes, passwords or identification numbers to anyone, especially over the telephone. Send repeated communications regarding this policy and its enforcement.
  • Warehouse workers and drivers should not discuss any details regarding the warehouse contents.
  • Keep loading bay doors closed in order to prevent surveillance efforts from seeing what items might be on the loading docks.
  • Encourage open internal communications and the reporting of any “out of norm” occurrences.
  • Consider implementing a procedure to authorize employees to question any unfamiliar person on the property.
  • Review all physical security protocols as well as vendor/contractor access to the premises, particularly after normal business hours.

Basic Security

  • Connect with the security system provider and confirm the conversation with them. Request a representative come to the facility to conduct any resets and/or have a pre-designated password with the alarm company that they can use to verify sharing of information.
  • Review documentation and contracts in place with the contracted alarm company, paying particular attention to scheduled maintenance, system access and alarm response protocols. Obtain written confirmation from the alarm company that line security of all burglar alarms is in full service and will remain in service for the duration of the contract.
  • Confirm that alarm monitoring personnel have accurate contact lists and phone numbers for employees responsible for reacting to intrusion alarm signals. It is important that everyone know their duty in the event of an emergency.
  • Perform random security alarm tests each month. Update alarm call lists and require designated personnel to respond to ALL alarm calls, even if there is a suspected system malfunction. Never enter the building until police response has arrived.

Travelers Insurance Company has an especially good Specialty Investigations Group to investigate and recover stolen shipments, and their Loss Control department actively help business owners prevent theft losses.

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Identity Theft: Who’s on Your Side?

A Case Manager In Your Corner

Maybe I fret too much, but as a consumer who uses credit cards for all my purchases and buys online from eBay, Groupon, Amazon, etc, I worry a lot about Identity Theft.  It’s relatively easy these days for crooks to get ahold of account information and open up new lines of credit in a victim’s name.  Those false unpaid accounts can swiftly wreck years of solid credit history, and undoing the damage isn’t easy.  It can take hours and hours of phone calls and letter-writing to the three credit bureaus and to creditors to clear your record.

That’s why I often recommend Safeco Insurance to my clients. As part of a standard homeowners or renter’s insurance policy, Safeco (and almost all other insurance companies) offers Identity Theft Coverage, to reimburse you for losses related to Identity Theft.

Safeco, however, I think is special, because Safeco provides a case manager who will assist you in clearing your record, and save you valuable time.

Safeco’s Identity Theft Coverage features:

  • Case manager – At no additional charge, a dedicated case management company works directly with your customer to work through the claim process.
  • High annual limit – Expense reimbursement up to $25,000 annually for expenses incurred after identity theft.
  • Lost wages and child or elder care expenses – Up to $250 per day up to a limit of $5,000.
  • No adverse premium impact – Any claims made under this coverage option will have no impact on future premiums.
  • Just $12 a year or $1 a month

 

 

iPickpocket? Identity Theft, Credit Monitoring, and Insurance

Cash has always been king in my family.  At the store, my parents are always fumbling around with envelopes of dollar bills. My grandmother once carried around $30,000 of uncashed checks in her purse.  She was afraid of banks.  Me?  I whip out the plastic at every opportunity.

It’s hard to believe how fast and how drastically our world has changed in the last 20 years.  When Reagan and Bush the First were president (remember them?), we paid with actual currency, or we wrote a personal check.  Nowadays, many stores don’t accept checks, and for many of us, cash is now for emergencies only.  Our paychecks get automatically deposited in the bank.  Bills are paid EFT. Groceries, gas, clothes, toys, and all the other junk we buy is paid for with credit or debit card.

In the old days, when folks were walking around with cash, it was pretty easy to notice when you got robbed.  Wham! A blow to the head, you’re shoved to the ground, and some thuggish type is running off with your purse or wallet.  Or, you’re in a crowd, a stranger brushes by, and a few minutes later you realize that a pickpocket has deftly made off with your wallet.

In our electronic age, however, theft can now easily go undetected. The only symptom of electronic theft is a difference in numbers displayed on a computer screen or printed on a bank or billing statement.

Electronic theft and Identity Theft is now common. Just this December, the FBI caught a gang of thieves skimming from jimmied card readers at 99 Cent Stores in the San Fernando Valley.  Over Christmas, a thief stole $62,000 from over 200 customers who swiped their cards at a gas station in Sierra Madre .  The theft amounts were small, and many victims were unaware until they heard about it on the news.

Skimming is the new pickpocketing; theft amounts are small and often go unnoticed. But, once the crooks have your card number and PIN, those small thefts can be repeated, adding up to a large loss over time.

Identity Theft, on the other hand, is the new robbery.  By getting a line of credit in your name, a crook can steal large amounts that’ll hit you over the head when the bill collectors start calling.

There are a few common sense precautions to avoid Identity Theft: pay with credit, not debit; don’t respond to incoming emails or phone calls that fish for your info; ask for your free credit report on a quarterly basis.

And, of course, there are credit monitoring services, which make a buck by tracking your credit record.  The problem with credit monitoring services is that they actually make a LOT of bucks doing that.  Offers that I’ve received seem awfully pricey to me, averaging $15-$30 per month.  That adds up fast.

However, one little-mentioned option is Identity Theft Protection that can endorsed onto your standard Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance Policy.  Almost all insurance companies offer this protection as an add-on.  And it’s cheap; typical cost is $12 to $20 in additional premium.  Per Year. That’s more affordable than a credit monitoring service.

The coverage and limit of Identity Theft Protection varies by insurance company.  Usually, it’s limited to $25,000.  If the theft involves a credit card, your liability is limited by law; the real damage will involve your credit score and your lost time.  Identity Theft Protection may reimburse you for the time you spend trying to undo the damage.  The time that a victim spends writing letters and making phone calls (imaging the time spent on hold and navigating automated phone systems!) to credit companies, in an effort to clear their record, can amount to thousands of dollars of lost wages, and lots of frustration.  As part of the Identity Theft Protection, one of my insurance companies (Safeco) assigns a case manager to their insureds.  The case manager can help you, so that you can avoid frustration and lost time in an effort to undo the damage and get your credit history cleared.

Renters, who are often uninsured, can get Identity Theft Protection by purchasing a Renter’s Insurance Policy, and adding on the Identity Theft Protection coverage. 

Like Homeowners Insurance, a renter’s insurance policy covers loss to Personal Property (your “stuff”).  Since the dwelling itself is not covered (the landlord is responsible for insuring his building), the cost of renter’s insurance is very affordable, usually $150-250 per year on average.  In addition, most insurance companies will give renters a multi-policy discount on auto insurance, which could amount to real savings.  If you are a renter, you can protect your possessions and mitigate your losses in the event of Identity Theft, and reduce your auto insurance premium by qualifying for a multi-policy discount.  That’ll give you the confidence to keep swiping those credit & debit cards with style.