ID Theft During the Holidays

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2017 has continued to show an increase in both Identity Thefts and Scams.
Here are two types of common scams that we have seen a lot of this year:
“IRS Payment Scam” In this common scam, the caller is portraying themselves to be an IRS or some other Federal Agent. They tell the victim that they owe back taxes or fees and that if they don’t pay, that they will have a warrant issued for their arrest. In some cases, the caller has threatened to send Federal Agents to their house to arrest them. For more info, go to “IRS.gov” or search for “5 things the IRS will never do”.

The other type of fraud we have seen a lot of is the “Romance Scam”. Unfortunately, there are a lot of lonely people who go to dating sites looking for relationships. The fraudsters find people on these sites and then spend weeks and even months corresponding with them. It is important to note that many times when love or emotion (romance) enter the picture, that common sense goes out the window. We have worked cases where both men and women have fallen victim to this and have sent tens of thousands of dollars to their “online boyfriend/girlfriend” whom they have never met.

Remember, if it sounds “too good to be true”: …IT IS! Be on your guard against these scams. If you are being pressured by someone on the phone or internet to send money, Don’t Do It!! Call a trusted friend or family member first. If you have elderly family or friends, please warn them about these scams and make sure that they call other family or trusted friends prior to taking any actions.

Here are some basic guidelines you can follow and steps you can take to protectyourself during this holiday season:

Lock your vehicle.      This sounds very simple but you would be astonished at the number of reports called in everyday by citizens who failed to lock their vehicle overnight. Remember that your vehicle contains both registration and proof of insurance, which are potential information jackpot for Identity Thieves.

Carefully check your credit card and bank statements. The best way to catch Identity Thieves is to frequently check these statements for purchases you didn’t make. The sooner you catch it and report it to us, the better chance we have of successfully solving your case.

Frequently check your credit report. You are allowed one free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus, so be sure to take advantage of this.
Keep a close eye on your credit /debit card if it is given to a store clerk. If your card leaves your sight it could potentially be “skimmed” on a separate device.   
Take your receipts home with you and destroy them there. Don’t leave them in a trashcan outside a store. If you don’t’ have a shredder consider getting one.
When speaking on the phone to someone you don’t know, never give out your personal information.

*Choose charities and cause your familiar with and trust, and be leery of anyone claiming to be with an organization but not having any visible proof. Unfortunately, there are a lot of donation seekers who are only interested in taking donations for their own “self-interest” groups, mainly themselves.
From all of us at the Medford Police Department,
Happy Holidays!

Id Theft During the Holidays
Sgt B Mak, Financial Investigation Section, Medford Police Department
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