Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Phone Scams

In the past week the sheriff’s eldery abuse unit received information about two telephone scams that prey upon the elderly residents of San Diego County.
The first scam involved a suspect who claimed to be a relative of an elderly woman whom he could not reach by phone. The suspect asked the Sheriff’s Department to perform a welfare check on the elderly woman. The deputy drove to the woman’s home and made contact with the woman who stated she did not know the person who called the sheriff’s. Additionally, the woman admitted that she had previously fallen for a phone scam that had sent funds to a suspect via a money transfer service. The responding deputy confronted the suspect via phone and discovered he had used the department to try and reestablish contact with the victim so he could continue the financial abuse.
The second scam involved an elderly male who received a call telling him he had won a large sum of money in a sweepstakes but had to pay a fee to receive it. The suspect identified himself as a deputy sheriff and gave an actual deputy’s name. The suspect further stated that the sheriff’s department was facilitating the money transfer. The victim withdrew the money from his bank but decided to visit the local sheriff’s station to speak with the deputy who allegedly called him. Fortunately, the deputy whose identity was used was working that day and able to prevent the victim from sending the money.
Impersonating a law enforcement officer or deputy is a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 or a year in local custody or both. Obtaining monies by trick or device is a felony punishable by time in state prison.
The public should be advised that the sheriff’s department does not facilitate or participate in any sweepstakes, lotteries or other money transfer schemes. Elderly residents should not send or wire transfer money to anyone based upon a phone call or series of calls without verifying facts first. Phone scammers routinely use money transfer service to fleece the elderly and any reference to such services should be considered a red flag warning. For questions or additional information, please contact the San Diego Sheriff’s Elderly Abuse Unit at (858) 974-2322.

Lock Up! Turn on that Alarm!

Remember to lock up and turn on your alarm system!    Recently we have seen a jump in residential burglaries.  Often times the burglars are entering through unlocked doors.   In some cases they are forcing entry through doors or windows and the alarm system was not turned on.  Fortunately, in one case a window was forced, but the alarm deterred the suspect and he fled the area.   
If you leave the house for a few minutes, lock the doors and turn on your alarm.   Make sure your locks are in good working order and secure the doors properly.  Make sure sliding doors cannot be lifted off their track. 
If you have anyone come to your door that seems suspicious, or someone in the neighborhood that doesn't fit call us right away.  Too often we get calls about suspicious activity several days after the fact.   Timely reporting is very important. You can reach us 24 hours a day at 858-756-4372

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stop.Think.Connect. Celebrates National Older Americans Month

May is National Older Americans Month, a tradition since 1963 that shows our nation’s commitment to recognizing the contributions and achievements of older Americans. This year’s theme, “Never too Old to Play,” encourages older Americans to stay engaged, active, and involved in their own lives and in their communities.

As technology becomes more present in our daily lives, older Americans are increasingly using the Internet to stay engaged. Email, social networking, and personal websites allow us to stay informed and connected with family and friends. The Internet also provides an easy way to shop, plan travel, and manage finances without leaving the comforts of home. However, just like any other public environment, the Internet requires awareness and caution. Many of the crimes that occur in real life are now done - or at least facilitated - through the Internet. Many online scammers target older Americans via emails and websites for charitable donations, dating services, auctions, health care, and prescription medications.  

In commemoration of National Older Americans Month, the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign offers the following tips for enjoying the benefits of the Internet while staying safe from cyber fraud and predators. Below are some common sense rules from the real world that apply in the online world:

1) Don’t judge a book by its cover. Cyber criminals hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. Don't communicate or reveal any personal information to strangers online. Personal information includes your name, address, age, phone number, birthday, email address, social security number, and insurance policy numbers – even your doctor’s name.

2) Look before you leap. Don't enter contests, join clubs, open attachments, or share your personal information for any reason, unless you know you are on a reputable website. Most organizations – banks, charities, universities, companies, etc. - don’t ask for your personal information over the Internet. Beware of requests to update or confirm your personal information.

3) All that glitters is not gold. Be wary of emails offering “free” gifts, prizes, or vacations. These are tricks designed to get you to give up personal information. Personal information can be pieced together to steal identities, money, or credit.

4) A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Once we understand the dangers we face online, we need to tell other people who might not be as cyber savvy. Every Internet user, no matter how young or old, is our nation’s first line of defense against people who might want to do harm. If we all become more aware of who we talk to, what we say, and what we share online, we can all make a big difference.

For a list of common fraud schemes aimed at older Americans, visit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

IdentityTheft Info

Identity Theft:
Contact Credit Reporting Agencies:
It is very important for you to contact each of the three major credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit reports and to get a copy of your credit reports. Reviewing your credit reports will help you to determine if there has been any unusual activity with any of your credit cards or other credit accounts. The names and phone numbers of each of these reporting agencies are as follows:

* Equifax 1-800-525-6285
* Experian 1-888-397-3742
* Trans Union 1-800-680-7289

We understand that this process may be confusing, so set forth below is additional information about how to put a fraud alert on your credit reports and what to do once you get a copy of your credit reports.

Fraud Alert:

A "fraud alert" is a statement that can be placed on your credit reports that can state "please do not issue credit without calling me first at this number” (you will provide your home number and/or your business number). Companies seeing this fraud alert should not issue credit to an imposter without calling you at your home first.

Please know that if you place a "fraud alert” on your credit file, you will not be able to get instant credit because you will not be at your home or office to receive the phone call for the credit to be issued. If you place a fraud alert but then want to be able to get instant credit, you will need to remove it from your credit file.

The credit bureaus will not keep the fraud alert on your credit reports indefinitely. It's likely that they will give you the option of leaving it on three months, six months, or if you ask for it in writing, seven years. You should consider leaving the fraud alert on ~--your credit reports as long as possible in order to protect yourself. It's our
understanding that having a fraud alert on your credit file will not reduce your credit score.

Copy of Credit Reports:

The credit reporting agencies may charge a fee in order to obtain a copy of your credit report. However, it's our understanding that if you advise them that you are a potential victim of fraud, that they may provide them to you free of charge.

When you receive your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies, you will note that they each use different formats. The most important things to look for to help protect yourself from fraud are the following:

1. Is there a different name on your credit report, or is your name misspelled in anyway?

2. Is your social security number correct? Are there any other social security numbers or slightly different numbers on your credit report?

3. Are all of the accounts yours?

4. Are all of the accounts that you closed listed as closed? If there appears to be open accounts or if there are credit balances for accounts that you believe were closed, you should check with the creditor to confirm whether there has been an error.

5. Look at the inquiry section of the report. This is the section that says "these companies received your credit report for the purposes of issuing you credit." The section lists companies and creditors who received a full copy of your credit report. Under federal law, they are only allowed to get your report with your permission. If there are companies in that section that you do not recognize, you should find out why and how that company was able to access your credit report.

If you find that there are any errors, mistakes, or inquiries that you do not recognize, you should immediately write a letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies. Inform them of the errors and ask for clarification of the addresses and telephone numbers of the companies that received your credit report. You should also notify the companies that accessed your credit report without your permission, and find out whatever information you can, including getting a copy of any application that may have been completed. This could be an indication of an imposter attempting to establish credit in your name.

Change Your Passwords:

It's in your best interest to use passwords that no one would know. For example, for any accounts that you've used your "mother's maiden name" as a password, it's advisable to change it to something else that no one knows.

Contact Police If You Suspect Fraud:

If you detect or suspect any fraudulent use of your identity, you should file a report with your local police or the police where the identity theft took place. Request a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime later on.
The Federal Trade Commission also publishes tips on how you can prevent and deal with identity fraud. You can access the FTC's Internet site at www.consumer.gov or call them at 1-877-10- THEFT (1-877-438-4338).