Fraud Prevention Tips
According to recent studies, there were over 16.7 million victims of identity theft in 2018, and it is one of the most prevalent types of crime, which we investigate at the Jersey Village Police Department. Some of the crimes that we see most frequently include Identity Theft, Credit Card fraud, and wire transfer scams.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to open accounts, or make purchases without your permission. Credit Card fraud occurs when someone makes unauthorized purchases with your credit/debit card without your permission. Wire transfer scams vary widely, but the most recent cases involve sending you a check to deposit, with the request that you send the person back a portion of the cash (of course the check is fraudulent). Here are some tips to help minimize the chance of you becoming a victim:
1. Don’t believe your Caller ID- fraudsters often cloak their real phone number, and can even make the Caller ID look like a legitimate business or government entity (like the City of Jersey Village Water Department, telling you that you have an overdue water bill, and that you must pay with a credit card over the phone).
2. Don’t pay upfront for a promise- whether someone tells you that they can help with your debt, or that you have won a prize, never pay anything upfront. Never deposit a check and wire a portion back to anyone!
3. Guard your personal information- be careful when making purchases over the phone or online. Your social security number should never be needed unless you are applying for credit.
4. Stay Safe Online- don’t sent sensitive information such as credit card numbers by email, and look to make sure that the website is secured or encrypted (the site will usually have a small padlock by the url address and/or the address will start with “https” rather than “http”. Be cautious about unsolicited emails (and consider deleting them), which are often fraudulent.
5. Check your bank statements weekly- by checking your bank statements frequently, you can see any unauthorized transactions and report them to your bank. Federal law limits your liability to $50 for unauthorized transactions, but most banks do not charge this if you notify them promptly.
6. Check your credit report quarterly- The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to provide a free copy of your credit card annually. Consider using a free service such as https://www.freecreditreport.com/. Checking your credit report frequently can help you identify unauthorized accounts and loans obtained by a fraudster.
As always, Contact the Jersey Village Police Department at 713-466-5824 if you have any questions concerning the legitimacy of an offer, or any other fraud concern.