GENERAL PRECAUTIONS FOR PERSONAL SAFETY
There are no guarantees of personal safety in any environment. It is incumbent upon each individual to safeguard himself or herself against becoming the victim of a crime. One of the best ways to maximize your safety and minimize your risk is to follow some very simple security rules:
- Walk with a friend whenever possible.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you, no matter whether it is day or night.
- Use well-lighted, well-traveled routes. Avoid dark, vacant, or deserted areas.
- Walk with confidence. Show that you are aware and in control. Body language works.
- Trust your instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, get out or getaway,.
- If you feel you are being followed, move to a well-lighted and populated area or building, such as a store or restaurant, and call for assistance.
- Know where the emergency telephones are located on campus. (Click here for a campus map.)
- If you are on campus after hours, stay alert.
- Lock office or lab doors.
- Call Security if you see or hear anything suspicious.
- Tell a friend, colleague, or Security where you are and when you plan to leave.
- Arrange to meet a friend or request an escort from Security when you leave.
- When you are out by car, park in well-lighted areas. Avoid parking in secluded parts of a parking lot. Stick to high traffic areas.
- When out shopping, don't carry large bundles or packages. It distracts you from your surroundings and makes you a potential target for a thief.
TIPS ON PREVENTING ID THEFT
There are a number of things you can do to minimize the chances that you will become a victim of identity theft.
- Be very cautious about giving your personal or financial information to anyone.
- Never provide personal identifying or financial information over the telephone when you did not initiate the call. This includes callers selling goods and services as well as charitable solicitors. Banks, credit card companies, telephone companies and other legitimate creditors do not call to "verify" account numbers or to ask for your social security number or other personal information.
- Never provide personal identifying or financial information over the telephone to anyone claiming to represent a contest or sweepstakes promotion. It is illegal to market a foreign lottery in the United States. These calls are always fraudulent.
- Never carry your social security card in your purse or wallet.
- Never have your social security number printed on your checks, drivers' license or other financial documents. If a bank, health care provider or other entity uses your social security number for client or account identification, call or write that company and ask that a different identification number be issued.
- Never respond to e-mail or "pop-up" messages on your computer claiming some problem with a credit card, Internet, or other account. Promptly contact your real credit card company or ISP to verify that there are no problems with your account.
- Purchase a simple "cross-cut" shredder (the kind that creates confetti, not the long strips) and get in the habit of shredding all personal or financial documents you intend to discard before placing them in the trash. Shred copies of bills and invoices after you have paid them, bank statements (including your cancelled checks), investment or retirement account statements, pre-approved credit card or loan applications (especially those that come with a negotiable check attached), medical statements of any kind, and any other documents that contain information about you or your finances.
- Place password protection on all credit card accounts that allow it. Do not use common numbers or personal information (like birth dates or part of your social security number) or commonly chosen words (such as a child's, spouse's, or pet's name) for passwords.
- Control access to your credit history. Remove your name from mailing lists for pre-approved lines of credit. You will need to provide your social security number to verify that you are making the request, but this is a legitimate use of such information.
- Be careful with your incoming and outgoing mail. If you don't have a secure, locked mailbox, mail your bills from a curbside public mailbox or directly at your local post office. Never leave outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox overnight. If you are planning on being away from home on vacation, arrange with your post office to hold your mail.
- Arrange to pick up new checks at your bank. Never have boxes of new checks delivered to your home (they do not fit in many mail slots so your postal carrier may leave them on your doorstep).
- Take all credit card or ATM receipts with you after you pay for goods or services. Do not just leave them behind or throw them away in the nearest trashcan. Destroy them in your cross-cut shredder when you get home.
- Write to your bank, insurance company and other financial institutions you do business with and tell them not to share your customer information with unaffiliated third parties. Under federal law, they are required to honor this request.
- Federal, State and City agencies do not solicit information over the telephone; do not volunteer any information about your financial, business or personal life.
Social Security Numbers
Your social security number ("SSN") is the most frequently used personal identifier and record keeping number in America. Because of that, it is also highly sought after by identity thieves looking to steal from your existing bank and credit card accounts or to establish new credit in your name. Consumers are constantly being asked to provide their SSN when cashing checks, opening new accounts, and for other purposes. Here is some basic information on who can require your SSN.
Who can require my SSN?
Many people assume that they are required to give their SSN whenever and by whoever asked. That is not true. Here is who may require your SSN:
- Government tax and welfare agencies, including the IRS, other federal agencies (for health benefits and other entitlements), state/local tax or revenue agencies;
- State professional/occupational/recreational licensing agencies;
- Other governmental agencies -- under federal law, they must tell you why your SSN is needed, whether giving your SSN is mandatory or voluntary, and how your SSN is to be used;
- Employer - You employer can require it for wage/tax purposes, but NOT from a job applicant;
- Banks and securities brokerages -- under the USA Patriot Act, 31 U.S.C. § 5318, financial institutions are required to establish minimum standards for properly identifying their customers opening new accounts (include checking, savings, loans, safe deposit boxes, and/or investments). Under federal regulations adopted in May 2003, banks, savings associations, credit unions, securities broker-dealers, futures commissions merchants, and mutual funds were required to have Customer Identification Programs ("CIPs") in place by October 1, 2003.
ORGANIZATIONS DEDICATED TO CAMPUS SAFETY AND/OR VIOLENCE PREVENTION
- American Red Cross
- Center for the Prevention of School Violence
- Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Hamilton Fish Institute
- National Association of School Psychologists
- National Association of School Resource Officers
- National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials
- National Education Association Safe Schools
- National Mental Health and Education Center for Children and Families Safe School Resources
- National Resource Center for Safe Schools
- National School Safety Center
- North Carolina State University Center for Prevention of School Violence
- Safe Havens International
- U.S. Department of Education Emergency Planning Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools
SUSPICIOUS PACKAGES, LETTERS OR SUBSTANCES
Screening Packages and Letters
Biological or chemical threats targeting individuals or departments can be controlled by screening incoming materials and by following the procedures listed below. Caltech has plans in place to deal with these types of threats. Following the procedures below will activate those plans and promote the highest level of safety while minimizing the disruption associated with these incidents. Some common features of suspect letters/packages are:
- liquid leaking from package
- no return address
- hand-written or poorly typed address
- misspelling of common words
- restrictive markings such as "Confidential", "Personal", etc.
- excessive weight and/or feel of a powdery or foreign substance
- foreign post marks and/or writing
- source of the letter/package is not recognized by recipient/addressee
If you receive a letter or note threatening biological contamination (i.e., Anthrax) or other suspect substances:
- Remain calm. Although any threatened use of a biological agent must be treated as though it is real, experience has demonstrated that these are likely to be a hoax. If the suspected biological agent is reported as anthrax, be assured that it is NOT generally contagious (i.e., spread from person to person) and that treatment is available and effective if administered before the onset of symptoms.
- Do not open the letter or package.
- Contact Security at x5000 or (626) 395-5000.
- Remain at the site until Security arrives with instructions.
If you inadvertently open a package or letter, or if it is leaking:
- Immediately set the item down gently at the location where it was opened.
- Contact Security at x5000 or (626) 395-5000.
- All potentially exposed persons should wash exposed skin surfaces with soap and water.
- Return to an area within the building adjacent to the initial exposure and wait for security (for example hallway outside original room).
- Do not allow others into the area. if anyone enters the area, they should stay in the area until instructed to leave by university police or other public safety responders.
What you should NOT do:
- DO NOT pass the letter or package to others to look at.
- DO NOT disturb any contents in the letter or package. Handling the letter or package may only spread the substance inside and increase the chances of it getting into the air.
- DO NOT ignore the threat; it must be treated as real until properly evaluated.
- DO NOT leave the building until instructed to do so.
For instructions from the United States Postal Office on handling suspicious letters and parcels, go to USPS Suspicious Package Information
LETTER AND PARCEL BOMB RECOGNITION
Mail bombs have been contained in letters, books, and parcels of varying sizes, shapes, and colors. Following is a list of possible indications of suspicious mail.
- Letters feel rigid, appear uneven or lopsided, or are bulkier than normal.
- Oil stains may be present on the wrapper.
- Use of excessive amount of postage.
- The sender is unknown.
- No return address.
- Unusual restricted endorsements such as "Personal", "Private", "to be only opened by..."
- The addressee normally does not receive personal mail at the office, or the package was unexpected.
- Name and/or title of addressee are not accurate, or a title is listed but no name.
- Address is prepared to insure anonymity of sender (i.e., homemade labels, cut and paste lettering).
- Mailing emits a peculiar odor.
- Mail appears to have been disassemble, reglued, or excessively secured.
- Handwriting appears distorted or foreign.
- Protruding wires, tinfoil, or string are present.
- Pressure or resistance is noted when removing the contents.
- Outer container shape is irregular or asymmetric or has soft spots or bulges.
- Wrapping exhibits previous use such as traces of glue, mailing labels, return addresses or tape.
- Several combinations of tape are used to secure the parcel.
- Unprofessionally wrapped parcel is endorsed "Fragile-Handle with Care" or "Rush-Do not Delay."
- Package makes a buzzing or ticking noise.
- Contents of parcel make a sloshing sound.
- Mailing is postmarked from a place to which you have no connection.
If you suspect a mailing is dangerous and are unable to verify the contents:
- Do not open the article.
- Isolate the mailing and secure the immediate area.
- Do not put in water or a confined space such as a desk drawer or filing cabinet.
- If possible, open windows in the immediate area to assist in venting potential explosive gases.
- Contact Security immediately.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you are encouraged to seek immediate medical, psychological, and support services provided by campus and/or community resources. If emergency response is required, call campus security at x5000 or (626) 395-5000 or the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4241.
A student, faculty, or staff member who feels that he or she has been harassed should review the procedures listed here.