Avoid Being a Victim of Fraud or Identity Theft
Fraud, scams, and identity theft are a huge problem in the world today. Scam artists come up with new and inventive ways to part unwary citizens from their money or to steal their identity, often utilizing the latest technology to do it. They target all ages and socio-economic classes, but particularly target the elderly, often being quite aggressive in their tactics. While we can’t possibly list all current scams happening, the Lewisville Police Department offers this advice:
- NEVER give out personal information, credit card numbers, or bank info to anyone unless you have initiated the contact and are certain you are speaking to an authorized representative of a company. If in doubt, call back by using a phone number from a bill or other source you are certain is genuine.
- Beware of “phishing” emails. These often look very legitimate, and may seem to come from your bank, a friend, or other trusted individual, but do some checking before you click on any links. If the email claims there is an issue with your account, check by visiting your bank's website, or calling customer service using a number from a trusted source such as your statement or the back of your card. Most companies will not ask for personal information in an email. Check with your friend to see if they really sent you that email or Facebook post telling you about a wonderful financial opportunity.
- If you get a phone call telling you a family member is in trouble, you have a warrant for your arrest, overdue taxes, can get a free grant, or similar, CHECK before you pay out any money, no matter what scare tactics the scammer may use.
- Beware of requests to “pay” by loading funds onto prepaid cards, such as Green Dot, ReLoadit, iTunes or similar cards. Once you give the scammer the numbers on the cards, the money will be gone. Legitimate businesses will not request payment in this manner.
- Check out a website before you purchase anything. Great resources are the Better Business Bureau, or even feedback forums, but just because there aren’t any complaints isn’t necessary a guarantee that the company is legitimate. Scammers are getting better everyday at making fake websites look real.
- If selling items online, be wary of supposed buyers who want to send you a check for much more than your sales price, and asking you to send the extra amount to someone else. These are almost always scams. In some cases the fake checks are so good, banks don't detect them right away.
- Be wary of online job offers, especially if you are being asked to funnel money through your own account. Do your research before accepting any jobs from an employer you haven't met face to face.
- Have a conversation with your elderly relatives. Our elders are a favorite target of scammers, as they are often unfamiliar with technology. Take a few minutes to talk to them about common frauds and how to protect themselves.
Most importantly, BE SKEPTICAL. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
There are numerous resources available online for consumers regarding fraud, scams, and identity theft. These make it easy to verify if a situation might be a scam. Here are some useful links:Texas Attorney General Consumer Protection Division
FBI Common Scams and Frauds
REPORTING SCAMS AND FRAUDS
Most government and business sites have a way to report frauds. A simple query of keyword "fraud" on business websites will typically turn up an email address or form to report a possible scam too. Below are a few useful sites: