Crime Prevention Tips
Dangerous Ramifications of "Sexting"
5 Holiday Scams to Avoid
Internet and Wireless Device Safety / Protecting Seniors from Fraud
Be A Smart Shopper When Buying Gift Cards
Dont' Pay Up Front to Borrow Holiday Cash
Child Safety- Heat and Your Car / Stranger Danger- Tips for Parents
Texas No Call List / Federal No Call List / A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety
Identity Theft / Telemarketing: Dos and Don'ts
Tips for Making Your Home More Secure / Making Your Home Secure Survey
Teenage Texans' use of text messaging and camera-equipped cell phones has led to an alarming new practice: sexting.
Sexting is the practice of teenagers sending sexually explicit messages or images electronically, primarily between mobile phones. Technological improvements that are now standard on many mobile phones allow teenagers to easily distribute photographs and videos to boyfriends, girlfriends and friends. Some young Texans are even sexting to strangers they have only met online.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed 1,300 teenagers about sexting and found troubling results:
* 71 percent of teen girls and 67 percent of teen boys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent it to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
* 15 percent of teens who have sent or posted nude or semi-nude images of themselves say they have done so to someone they only knew online.
* 44 percent of both teen girls and teen boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.
The social danger for teenagers is that the message sender has no control of its distribution. Nearly 20 percent of sexting recipients have passed the image to someone else who the sender may or may not know. Suggestive photographs easily can be downloaded to a computer, posted on public Web sites or printed and distributed.
Unintentional circulation of inappropriate images can lead to suspensions from school or athletic participation and cause embarrassment. Compromising photos can hinder teens' attempts to get into college, receive scholarships or gain employment.
More importantly, sexting can lead law enforcement to confiscate communication devices and cause other serious legal problems. One in five teens surveyed say they have sexted despite the fact that most of them knew it was a crime.
The owner of a computer or cell phone containing pictures of nude or semi-nude minors can be investigated and prosecuted on felony child pornography charges. Teenagers in possession of sexually suggestive images of classmates or companions under 18 could face up to 10 years in prison.
Clearly, this dangerous technological trend can haunt children for years, and it is impacting schools and communities statewide. Of course, investigators and prosecutors consider the circumstances of each case before deciding whether - and which - charges charges may apply. By the time law enforcement has gotten involved, however, someone has already gotten hurt. Education and active parenting present the best way to ensure children avoid this dangerous activity.
Parents must have frank conversations with their children about the potential for embarrassment and the legal ramifications of sexting. If teens do not want a photo or text message to fall into the wrong hands - including strangers, potential employers, teachers or college admission officers - they should not send it. A lack of privacy can put them at risk.
Teens, parents, teachers and law enforcement authorities must keep an open line of communication to combat sexting - which is why our Cyber Crimes Unit officers criss-cross the state speaking to students and parents about Internet and wireless communication safety.
Parents, law enforcement officers and others who have questions or want more information about protecting children should visit our Web site, www.texasattorneygeneral.gov. Together, we must work to keep young Texans safe from harm.
Attorney General of Texas
According to a recent study, 20 percent of teenagers have electronically sent or posted naked or semi-naked photographs of themselves online. Even more teens are sending suggestive or explicit e-mails, instant messages (IMs) or text messages €“ in some cases to people they have never met in person, but only know online.
While most expect that the content will only be viewed by a trusted boyfriend or girlfriend, too often that is not the case. Nearly 40 percent of teens report that they have had racy messages or photos shared with them €“ when they knew those pictures were intended for someone else. This content can be forwarded to lots of unintended recipients or posted on the Internet for the world to see.
In addition to causing embarrassment, circulating these photos also can be illegal. Depending on the content and ages of the subject and recipient, some e-mailed or texted photos may meet the legal definition of child pornography. Persons convicted of possessing child pornography face up to 10 years in prison. They may also have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
There are many possible consequences associated with suggestive messages and photographs of oneself. These messages or photos may:
- Get passed around to others or posted on the Internet;
- Raise the expectation of sexual activity, potentially putting the sender in uncomfortable or dangerous situations;
- Cause the sender and/or recipient to face child pornography charges, be imprisoned and have to register as a sex offender;
- Cause embarrassment and legal or employment problems for parents and family members;
- Result in suspensions from school or athletic participation; or
- Hinder future attempts to get into college, receive scholarships or become employed.
College recruiters, teachers, potential employers, parents and others may all be able to find previous Internet posting were after the original has been deleted. For example, before a photo’s deletion, it may have already been copied or posted elsewhere.
Failing to comprehensively assess consequences is one of the hallmarks of youth. Another hallmark is poor judgment. Growing up takes time. So, in many instances, teenagers are aware of the risks posed by their online activities €“ but they believe the bad consequences will not happen to them.
Education and frank discussions between parents and their children are critically important. Parents and educators should consistently explain that sexually themed communications and photos are inappropriate and dangerous. In cyberspace, harmful or embarrassing photographs can quickly make the rounds and fall into the wrong hands, including those of child predators. They can also lead to ridicule and unwanted attention.
Parents should take an active interest and pay close attention to their kids’ use of technology. They should be clear with their teens about what they consider appropriate behavior. Cell phone carriers offer tools, some of which are free, to limit wireless devices’ content and communications capabilities. Text messaging service can be turned off or limited to certain hours. Internet access can be removed or filtered by age appropriateness. Parents can consider buying a phone that has no camera feature.
Points To Remember Internet & Wireless Device Safety:
Don’t assume anything sent or posted online is going to remain private.
There is no changing your mind in cyberspace — assume anything sent or posted online will never really go away.
Nothing is truly anonymous. Screen names, phone numbers or e-mail addresses can all be traced back to an individual if someone €“ including a criminal €“ tries hard enough.
The Wireless Foundation
Office of the Attorney General
Protecting Texas Seniors From Fraud May is Older Americans Month, so this is a good time to reflect upon the greatest generation and redouble our efforts to protect elderly Texans. The Office of the Attorney General is proud to work with law enforcement to achieve this goal.
Con artists and criminals often target older Texans because seniors are more likely to have retirement savings, their own homes and great credit. Scam artists also know older Texans may be less likely to report fraud. In fact, some estimates indicate that only one in 25 cases of financial fraud against senior citizens is reported.
The OAG receives complaints from seniors about a wide array of scams. Here are a few examples:
"Grandparent" scam. The scam begins with a telephone caller who claims to be a grandchild in trouble and in urgent need of money. Often, the caller claims to be traveling in Canada. The "grandchild" also requests secrecy, hoping to increase the odds that the fraud will be successful. If all goes according to the con artist's plan, the victim wires money to the "grandchild." By the time the worried grandparent realizes the scam, the money is long gone and most likely not recoverable.
Home repair and door-to-door scams. In one ploy, a "repairman" approaches a home owner, often after a bad storm, and insists that the home needs repairs. Once the repairman gets a check, he disappears without making or finishing repairs. Other times, a "contractor" will approach a senior citizen, saying he has extra materials from a job and will perform a service, like sealing a driveway, for less than the typical cost. The work, if done at all, is usually substandard. In a variation of these scams, the con artist uses the construction ruse to gain entry into the victim's home where he steals valuables from the home while the owner is distracted.
Texans should always be suspicious of unsolicited contractors who approach their homes, and they should always be wary of people they do not know. Legitimate workers - such as utility company representatives or professional repairmen - will not be offended if a homeowner asks for proof of identification.
Foreign lottery / sweepstakes scams. In this scam, which often originates in Canada, the operators claim that potential victims have won another country's lottery. The scam artists often claim they need the victim's bank account information in order to wire the lottery proceeds. Then, armed with the victim's account number, the thief drains the bank account. In other cases, the scammer claims the victim must pay "taxes and processing fees" in advance to receive their winnings. Sometimes the criminals even send a convincing counterfeit check in an attempt to lend legitimacy to the scam. The counterfeit check is denied by the victim's bank, but often after the victim has sent the "taxes and processing fees." Another variation solicits its victims to buy entries into a foreign lottery. Of course, no lottery tickets are really purchased, and the con artists pocket the victim's money. Anyone with friends or relatives who think they won a foreign lottery should keep this in mind - it is illegal to participate in another country's lottery.
"Miracle" health scams. As a population, older citizens typically suffer from greater health problems - such as cancer or arthritis - than younger segments of society. Unfortunately, some seniors can be increasingly vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers preying on seniors' health and wellness fears to sell worthless healthcare products that they falsely claim can cure chronic or terminal diseases. Senior citizens seeking medical treatment or a cure for ailments should think twice before spending their money on products and treatments that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Anyone who purchases unapproved products may be wasting their savings or worse, exposing themselves to health risks. Texans should always consult a healthcare professional about their health problems and should never rely solely on a salesman's advice about a product.
Investor "free lunch" scams. Senior citizens should also be wary of "free lunch" investment seminars. Potential investors are often invited to free seminars that promise to educate them on money strategies or management. Promoters provide a fancy meal in hopes of receiving seniors' retirement savings to invest. These luncheon investment seminars usually are more about recruiting new clients or selling investment products than investor education. Many legitimate investment advisors use this technique to meet and recruit new clients, which is perfectly ethical. However, scam artists and identity thieves also use these events to steal attendees' personal information. Other salesmen, such as those selling timeshares or vacation packages, may also use these seminars to sell their products. Seniors should always remember that a good show doesn't always offer a good deal. Texans should never make an on-the-spot decision after attending a seminar. It is important to conduct independent research about the sales product before making a purchase.
Awareness and vigilance are the keys to avoiding scams. By working together to raise awareness, law enforcement agencies can help Texas seniors protect their finances, their identities and, most importantly, their dignity.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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Senior Alert: Attorney General Abbott Warns of Grandparent Scam Con-artists claiming to be relatives using bogus stories to target seniors
The Office of the Attorney General is warning retirees and senior citizens to be wary of a grandparent scam. Recent reports indicate that seniors have been receiving telephone calls from a purported grandchild in need of money.
Usually, the ruse includes a caller who says something like "Hi, grandma," or "Hey, it's your favorite grandson." The caller's goal is to learn the name of a recipient's actual grandchild. Sometimes the caller may even have learned the name of the grandchildren in advance - and claim to be a grandchild on the call.
The caller typically tells the victim that he or she has been in an accident, was arrested, is stranded or in similar trouble and needs money immediately. Most often, the caller claims to be traveling in Canada. The "grandchild" also insists that the victim not tell anyone else - which increases the odds that the fraud will be successful. If all goes according to the con artist's plan, the victim will wire money to the "grandchild." By the time the elderly call recipient realizes what happened, the money is long gone and most likely not recoverable.
This type of fraud is particularly troubling, as it plays upon a grandparent's natural desire to protect a grandchild. Although variations of this scam have been around for a long time, it has become more sophisticated with the proliferation of information on the Internet. Con artists are more often using personal information gleaned from family blogs, genealogy Web sites, social networking Web sites and online newspapers to add credibility to their calls. Reports from law enforcement agencies around the country suggest that the scam works too often.
Watch out for these red flags:
- Callers requesting money.
- Callers claiming to be in Canada or other foreign location.
- Callers insisting on secrecy.
- Urgent callers pressuring quick action.
- Callers with unfamiliar voices.
- Callers requesting that money to be sent by wire transfer (because those funds are hard to track and almost impossible to recover).
- Vague or elusive callers who get personal details wrong.
Texans should always exercise some skepticism when they receive telephone calls urgently requesting money. If a relative calls and asks for money, they should verify the identity of the caller with personal questions a stranger would not be able to answer. Seniors should not "fill in the blanks" for callers but should ask them to give their names. Texans may also consider calling back using a telephone number they know to be genuine. Another option is to ignore the caller's wishes and verify the story with another family member.
Texans who believe they have been the target of a scam should contact the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre (888) 495-8501
Federal Trade Commission
Better Business Bureau
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 23, 2008
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Attorney General Abbott Urges Texans to Protect Their Personal Identifying Information
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today urged Texans to learn more about identity theft prevention - and use that knowledge to avoid becoming victims of identity theft. This week has been designated as National Protect Your Identity Week.
Identity theft occurs when a criminal illegally uses another person's personally identifying information, including names, addresses, driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other financial information to commit fraud or other crimes. Victims may miss job opportunities, or be denied loans for housing, education or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. Texas ranks second in the nation for incidences of the crime, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
"Identity theft continues to be one of the most pervasive and costly white-collar crimes in the country," Attorney General Abbott said. "The Office of the Attorney General is committed to aggressively enforcing identity theft prevention laws. Texans should shred unwanted documents that contain their personal information and take other steps to prevent sensitive account numbers from falling into the hands of identity thieves."
To help prevent identity theft, the OAG established a Web site, www.texasfightsidtheft.gov, devoted to providing Texans information they need to protect themselves from this crime. This Web site has video testimonials of actual victims depicting their struggles to restore their good names.
This recently launched Web site also has an Identity Theft Victim's Kit which offers a step-by-step checklist for victims to use to prevent further damage. Confirmed identity theft victims should immediately close all bank, credit, utility and service accounts. Victims should contact one of the major credit bureaus and place fraud alerts or security freezes on their credit reports. This will prevent new accounts from being fraudulently opened under the victims' name.
For more information about steps Texans can take to protect their personal information, visit www.protectyouridnow.org. For more information about the OAG's efforts to fight identity theft, visit www.texasfightsidtheft.gov.
National Protect Your Identity Week
Identity theft occurs when a criminal steals another person's identifying information, including their name, address, driver's license number, Social Security number, credit card numbers or other private financial account information.
Texas ranks second in the nation for incidences of the crime, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This crime can take many forms. An identity thief may rent an apartment under an assumed name, obtain a credit card with their victim's credit, or establish a telephone account after stealing someone else's personal information.
Identity theft is a serious crime. While some victims resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and countless hours repairing damage to their reputation and credit record. Some identity theft victims may even miss job opportunities, or be denied loans for housing, education or vehicles because of negative information on their credit reports.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. To help Texans prevent or minimize the damage caused by identity theft, the Office of the Attorney General developed the Web site www.texasfightsidtheft.gov. Senior citizens can learn how to protect their personal identifying information by visiting this specialized Web site. This site also has video testimonials from actual victims who depict their struggles to restore their good name.
The OAG's identity theft Web site also has an Identity Theft Victim's Kit that offers a step-by-step checklist for who want to prevent further damage. Once Texans confirm that they have been a victim of identity theft, they should immediately close all bank, credit, utility and service accounts. Victims should contact one of the major credit bureaus and place fraud alerts or security freezes on their credit reports. This will prevent new accounts from being fraudulently opened under the victims' names.
For more information about steps Texans can take to protect their personal information, visit www.protectyouridnow.org.
For more information on the efforts of my office to fight identity theft, visit www.texasfightsidtheft.gov.
Attorney General of Texas
With Texans across the state preparing holiday meals and shopping for gifts, a few con artists are dusting off old scams and looking for new victims. Law enforcement can help Texans by spreading the word about how to avoid five popular holiday scams: gift card scams; online shopping schemes; phony charities; credit repair scams; and spam e-mail and other unsolicited offers.
Gift card scams. Scam artists often take advantage of gift cards by writing down or memorizing the serial numbers on the face of the card while the cards are still displayed in the store. When an unsuspecting consumer purchases and activates the card, the scammer simply calls the card's customer service number, verifies it is active, and uses the memorized serial number to make online purchases. Sadly, it is often days or weeks before the legitimate buyer learns that the card balance was drained by a thief.
To avoid scammers who drain gift card balances, consumers should ask a store clerk to provide them with a gift card from behind a counter or one that has not otherwise been accessible to the general public. Some gift cards have additional security measures, such as scratch off codes, so consumers should always verify that no one has tampered with a card or its packaging.
Online shopping schemes. Consumers should never respond to bulk e-mails that offer merchandise, travel deals or solicit charitable contributions. Crooks often set up Web sites that look like they sell products or collect money for charities when, in fact, all they do is collect credit card numbers, take the money and run. Consumers should always verify a Web site's security status before placing an order. Online shoppers also should consider using a credit card for online purchases. Paying by credit card often makes it easier for consumers to dispute unauthorized charges or undelivered products.
Bogus charities. Charitable giving is commendable, but consumers should ask questions before donating to a telephone or door-to-door solicitor: Does the solicitor have identification? How will contributions be used? Texans also should independently check what they are told about the organization and make sure their gifts will count. To verify an organization's legitimacy, donors can contact www.give.org. This Web site is maintained by the Council of Better Business Bureaus to promote wise charitable giving. Consumers also should confirm the tax-exempt status of any organization before they reach for their wallets.
Credit repair scams. Online or in the classifieds, credit repair offers often guarantee consumers loans despite their poor credit ratings; all consumers have to do is pay an upfront "processing fee." These offers are invariably a form of advance fee fraud, so Texans should steer clear of them. Consumers who need extra money over the holidays should visit a local lender in person.
Unsolicited offers. The best way to guard against scams and swindles is simple: Never respond to unsolicited offers. Consumers should never respond to spam e-mails sent by strangers or unfamiliar companies.
Consumers should also be skeptical of unsolicited telephone offers. Even if the caller claims to represent a trusted company or pitches an interesting offer, Texans should hang up and call the well-known company directly using a number that appears in the local telephone directory. This simple precaution ensures that consumers are talking to an actual company representative.
Fraudulent offers also can arrive in the mail. As tempting as it sounds, consumers can rest assured they did NOT win the Spanish lottery, the Canadian lottery, or any other foreign lottery just in time for the holidays. Texans should be extremely wary of cashier's checks sent by people they do not know and should never provide their personal financial information to unfamiliar solicitors.
Con artists tend to spend money just as fast as they steal it, so money lost in these or similar scams is difficult to recover. Prevention is an important key to stopping thieves in their tracks. By taking a few simple precautions, Texans can enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.
With the holidays fast approaching, millions of consumers will buy prepaid gift cards from merchants all across the State of Texas. These cards have become extremely popular; they can easily be mailed to far-away loved ones and undoubtedly simplify gift shopping at a very busy time of year.
Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that the crooks might also have their eye on the convenience of gift cards. According to law enforcement and consumer protection sources from around the country, scam artists are strolling around busy shopping centers, eyeing racks full of not-yet-activated gift cards (generally, these cards are only valid after a consumer pays for them). The con artists write down or memorize the serial numbers on the face of the card, then sit back and wait for an unsuspecting consumer to purchase and activate the card.
Once a card has been purchased, all the scammer has to do is call the card's customer service number, confirm that it has been activated, and check its available balance. By then, the scammer can use the card to make online purchases. Sadly, it could be days or even weeks before consumers find out that the balance on their cards has been drained by a thief. Protect yourself by making sure that your purchase of a gift card is a safe one: Ask a store clerk to provide you with a gift card from behind a counter or that has not otherwise been accessible to the general public. Also note that some gift cards already have security measures, such as an additional scratch off code. If so, make sure that the no one has tampered with either the card or its packaging.
Remember to be a vigilant consumer throughout the season. If you buy or receive a gift card where any part of the balance mysteriously disappears, you should immediately notify the merchant who issued the card.
Attorney General of Texas
With the holiday season in full swing, many Texans might encounter advertisements promising instant cash loans. Consumers should avoid loan offers that require up-front payments for "taxes" or "processing fees." Legitimate lenders never ask borrowers to pay money up-front in order to obtain a loan. Posing as legitimate loan offers, these slick loan promotions often appear online, in newspaper classified ads or on flyers.
Some scammers provide a toll-free number for borrowers to call and supposedly speak with someone who claims to be a reputable bank representative. Other con artists send official-looking correspondence guaranteeing a loan for hundreds or even thousands of dollars at a reasonable interest rate. In both schemes, borrowers are instructed to wire several hundred dollars in advance to cover the loans' taxes or processing charges.
Once consumers send the money, they never hear from the scam artist again. Many of these schemes give the impression that they are based in the United States. Often, they provide "confirmation" correspondence with a return address in this country. The unfortunate reality is that most scammers are based abroad and use stolen or disposable cell phones that cannot be traced. The correspondence addresses are either nonexistent or anonymous drop boxes.
Once money is wired to the scammers, they are able to pick it up from any of thousands of locations around the world, with little chance of being caught. Consumers who need extra cash over the holidays should consider approaching local lenders to discuss their options in person. Borrowers should also carefully protect their personal information, especially Social Security and bank account numbers.
While reputable lenders typically require Social Security numbers and other information to conduct credit checks on a borrower, scam artists often obtain victims' personal information to perpetrate identity theft. Texans can verify they are dealing with a legitimate, properly licensed organization by contacting the Texas Department of Banking toll-free at (877) 276-5554 or online at www.banking.state.tx.us. To report an advance fee scam or to obtain additional information, call the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or visit us online at www.oag.state.tx.us.
Attorney General of Texas
The following security precautions are furnished to assist you in making your home more secure against being burglarized.
- Provide lighting for all outside entrances to the house. Besides entrances to the home it is recommended you provide perimeter lighting on all sides of the house. Consider motion sensor lighting or timers for your exterior lights.
- Keep trees and shrubs cleared/pruned around doors and windows. This helps eliminate concealment for burglars/prowlers.
- Make sure your address/house number is clearly visible from the street and lighted at night.
- Exterior doors.
a. Make sure all exterior doors are metal or solid wood, 1 3/8" thick.
b. The hinges should be on the inside of the door and the doorframe should be strong enough to withstand excessive force.
c. Use a high security "strike plate" for the lock and secure to the doorframe with #12, 3" wood screws.
d. Use good quality single cylinder deadbolt locks with at least a 1" throw. e. Install a 190-degree door viewer (peephole) on the main entrance. Install the door viewer at a height accessible to the shortest person in the household or install more than one, at varying heights.
- Garage doors: Secure garage doors with a key-operated locking device or install an automatic garage door opener.
- Sliding glass doors: Secure sliding glass doors with secondary locking devices to prevent them from being lifted or pried from their frame.
a. "Charlie Bar" commercially manufactured security device that is installed on the door/door frame.
b. "Pinning" Inserting a pin in a hole drilled in the doorframe. Commercial devices are available or a nail can be placed in the hole.
c. Place a broomstick or wooden dowel in the track to secure the door against being pried open. You made also need to "pin" the door to keep it from being lifted from the track.
- Double/French doors: Secure the inactive or one of the active doors with concealed flush mounted header and threshold bolts that penetrate metal strike plates. Secure the two active doors with a high security single cylinder dead bolt lock with a minimum 1" throw.
- Install a solid wood door, 1 3/8" thick, with a high security single cylinder dead bolt lock, minimum 1" throw, from the garage into the house.
- Secure window air conditioners to the house or with grating to prevent them from being removed or pushed into the house.
- Windows: Secure all windows (that open) with secondary or auxiliary locking mechanisms.
a. Metal windows can be secured with commercial locking devices that are attached to the window's track. It is recommended you use one on both tracks of the window. It is recommended you do not use key operated devices as it may pose a safety issue in the event of a fire.
b. Wooden windows can be secured by "pinning" or by placing a wooden dowel in both sides of the window's tracks.
c. Louvered or jalousie windows pose a special security problem. These type windows can be secured by installing reinforced metal screening.
Operation I. D.: Mark/engrave your valuables with your TX. I.D. or D.L. number and make an inventory of them to include: brand, model, size, and serial number. Photograph or video tape those valuable or collectible items that do not have serial numbers.
Alarms: Alarms should be used in combination with other security measures. If your home has an alarm it should have an interior and exterior siren and be monitored by a U.L. approved central monitoring station.
Did you know you can receive a discount on your home owners insurance premium (Chapter 5, Texas Insurance Code, amended Article 5.33A) if you meet specified home security criteria and your home passes an inspection by a state certified crime prevention specialist?
For further home security tips or for a free home security survey contact the Waco police department's community outreach and support section at 750-1761.
REMEMBER AN UNUSED LOCK OFFERS NO PROTECTION!
(On The Road Again)
School's out and vacation time has arrived! Travel and trips are the agenda for summer adventure! Here are some safety tips to help you avoid serious problems while you are on your trip or vacation.
- Stop mail and newspaper delivery or have a neighbor collect them daily.
- Lock all windows and doors before you go.
- Ask a friend or relative to keep your lawn mowed.
- Leave a key with a trusted friend or relative in case of an emergency.
- Have someone place your trash out on collection day.
- Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to check the exterior of your home daily and to occasionally park their car in your driveway.
- Put some lights, radio and TV on automatic timers.
- Secure lawn furniture, mowers, bicycles, etc. while you are gone.
- Make a record of your credit card and travelers check numbers. If possible make a photocopy of them.
- Clean out your wallet/purse. Don't take anything you don't need; like extra credit cards.
- Make sure you have enough prescription medication to last on your trip.
ON THE ROAD:
- Don't carry large amounts of cash. Use travelers checks or credit cards whenever possible.
- Make sure your vehicle is in top running condition.
- Carry your cell phone, car insurance, and other documents needed for your trip/vacation.
- Plan your trip/vacation route and don't forget the maps!
- When stopping enroute, conceal valuables from sight, preferably in the trunk. If you stop overnight, remove luggage and other valuables from the car.
IN YOUR MOTEL:
- Don't leave luggage unattended. Check your baggage with the staff if you can't go to your room immediately.
- While away from your room for extended time, place your valuables in the motel safe-deposit box.
- When returning to your motel late in the evening, use the main entrance of the motel.
- Be observant and look around before exiting your car.
- Use all auxiliary locking devices while in your room; don't leave the room door propped open.
- Familiarize yourself with fire exits.
- Check with motel staff about security measures provided.
- Don't open the door until you know whom it is; call the front desk to confirm claims of being a staff member.
- Report suspicious activity to motel management.
- Check twice before departing so you don't leave any possessions behind.
IN THE AREA:
- Learn about the area you are visiting. Ask motel staff about areas to visit and areas to avoid.
- Carry your purse and wallet in a secure way; don't let your purse dangle and put your wallet in a front pants pocket.
- Be aware of persons acting suspiciously.
- Make sure everyone in your group knows the name and address of your motel.
- Carry only cash that you need, and bills in small denominations. Don't flash your money, jewelry, or video equipment.
- If members separate, have a prearranged location and time to check in.
With the sweltering temperatures of summer upon us the Waco Police Department would like to remind you of the dangers of leaving a child or animal unattended in a motor vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control says a child can die from the extreme heat in five to 10 minutes. The same is true of an animal left alone in a car.
The applicable laws are as follows:
1. Texas Penal Code, Section 22.10. Leaving a child in a vehicle.
(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is:
1. Younger than seven years of age; and
2. Not attended by an individual in the vehicle 14 years of age or older.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of $376 dollars in Waco's Municipal Court.
2. Texas Penal Code, Section 22.041, endangering a child may also apply.
(a) A person commits an offense if he leaves a child in any place without providing reasonable and necessary care for the child, under circumstances under which no reasonable, similarly situated adult would leave a child of that age (younger than 15) and ability.
(b) An offense under this section is a Felony.
3. City Ordinance section 5-121. Animals in motor vehicles apply to animals left unattended in vehicles in a manner that may endanger the animal's health, safety or welfare. An offense under this ordinance is punishable by a fine of $300 dollars in Waco's Municipal Court.
Join us in protecting our children and pets from the dangers of heat injuries.
The Waco Police Department presents some common sense rules to help keep our children safe from strangers.
What is a "Stranger"?
Explain to your children that a stranger is someone they do not know or know very well. A stranger can be a man or a woman, a young person or an older person, well dressed or shabby in appearance, nice or mean to them.
Start with the basics:
- Make sure your kids know your address and phone numbers (home and work).
- Walk the neighborhood and school routes to show your children safe places and places to stay away from.
- Accompany your children to public restrooms.
- Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if they get separated from you in a store or shopping mall.
- Tell them to never talk to strangers, get into a stranger's car or accept candy or gifts from a stranger, even if they call them by name.
- Teach them to run to a safe place or to a trusted adult if a stranger tries to grab or follow them.
- When they are home alone, tell them not to answer the door or let anyone in without your permission.
- If you are still at work after your child gets out of school have them check in with you when they get home.
- Tell your children to lock the door/windows when home alone.
- Teach your children escape routes and a safe neighbor to go to in the event of a fire or an emergency. Prearrange this with a trusted neighbor.
- Tell your children to never tell anyone calling on the phone they are home alone.
- Have your children tell a teacher, trusted adult or parent about strangers hanging around the school or areas where they play.
- Talk to your children about touches that are inappropriate. Teach your child that no one - not a teacher or relative - has the right to touch them on their private parts or in a way that feels uncomfortable. Tell them to tell you or a trusted adult about anyone who touches them on their private parts or in an inappropriate way.
End with the three rules:
1. A stranger may mean danger.
2. If confronted by a stranger - tell them to yell "Stranger - Danger" as loud as they can and run in the opposite direction or to a safe location.
3. Tell your children they can talk to you about anything - strangers or inappropriate touching - as you will always be supportive.
(Source: U.S. Dept of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation)
What are signs that your child might be at risk on-line
Your child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night.
- You find pornography on your child's computer.
- Your child receives phone calls from people you don't know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't recognize.
- Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don't know.
- Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
- Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
- Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.
What can you do to minimize the chances of an on-line exploiter victimizing your child?
- Communicate, and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential on-line danger.
- Spend time with your children on-line.
- Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child's room.
- Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software.
- Always maintain access to your child's on-line account and randomly check his/her e-mail.
- Teach your child the responsible use of the resources on-line.
- Find out what computer safeguards are utilized by your child's school and at homes of your child's friends. These are all places where your child could encounter an on-line predator.
- Understand, even if your child was a willing participant in any form of exploitation, he/she is not at fault, he/she is the victim.
- Instruct your children:
- a. to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on-line.
b. to never upload pictures of themselves onto the internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know.
c. to never give out identifying information such as their name home address, school name, or telephone number.
d. to never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images.
e. to never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.
f. that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.
For more information about protecting your child on-line go to www.missingkids.com/cybertip
The Federal Trade Commission has regulations on telemarketing:
In the first part of the call, the caller must identify the company's name and, if it's a sales call, what is being sold.
- If a prize is offered, you must be told immediately that no purchase or payment is necessary to win.
- You cannot be asked to pay in advance for services. Pay for services only after they are actually delivered.
- You cannot be called before 9 in the morning or after 9 in the evening, on a weekday or Saturday or before noon on Sunday, local time. It's also against the law to call you repeatedly or to intimidate you.
- Before you pay for any products or services, you must be told the costs and restrictions.
- Ask the telemarketers for the name and address of their company, and a clear explanation of the offer they are making.
- Ask the caller to send you written material to study, including the money back guarantee, and about the company's refund policies before making a purchase.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau, State Attorney General consumer protection office, family, banker, etc. before you make any large purchase or investment.
- Do tell them you are not interested, do not call you again, then HANG UP!
- Never give your credit card number or bank account to anyone you do not know. If you do, they can withdraw money from your account at anytime without your knowledge or permission.
- Don't pay anything for a "free prize". If the caller tells you the payment is required for taxes on the prize or to improve your chances of winning, they have violated federal law.
- Don't allow the caller to intimidate you or bully you into buying something "right now" for whatever reason! This is a favorite tactic of telemarketing scams, especially if the sweet, kind routine does not work.
If you need help or suspect fraud call the National Fraud Information Center at 1-800-876-7060.
From the office of the Texas Attorney General
Don't Fall for the Big Five:
Home Repair: Beware of unsolicited door-to-door home improvement offers. If it is a one-time offer, available only today, or a special deal on materials leftover from another job, be doubly cautious. If your home needs repairs, your best bet is to call more than one reputable roofing or driveway or other home repair company in your area and check their references. Double check with the Better Business Bureau.
Identity Crime: Be alert about people who ask you for your social security number, bank account number or credit card number. The variety of excuses these people offer for wanting to have your personal financial information is amazing, and the explanations may be very plausible. They may say they are from the FBI or your bank, investigation possible fraud on your account. Actually, they want to COMMIT fraud on your account. Never give anyone who calls you information of this kind for any reason. Also, be wary of anyone asking you to verify your account numbers (bank or credit card(s) over the internet!
Pigeon Drop: In this old fashioned scam, the con artist approaches you about a large sum of money he has found. He needs your money to secure the cash, and you'll get a cut in return. The warning flags are: you have to put up money to get money, and a second player, pretending not to know the first one, comes in as a "lawyer" or "banker" who confirms the first con's story. They may actually show you a pike of cash. DON'T BELIEVE IT!
Investment Scams: Many Texas seniors have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in life savings by participating in investment strategies that were nothing more than "ponzi" or pyramid schemes. High pressure sales pitches to invest in products such as titanium futures or currency markets lure consumers with the promise of guaranteed returns. In reality, there is no real investment and the scam artists do little more than create bogus quarterly statements to make the victim believe that his or her money is growing dramatically.
Foreign Lotteries: You did not win the foreign lottery! Anytime you are asked to send money in order to collect your winnings in a lottery or sweepstakes, STOP. It is a scam called advance fee fraud. You do not have to pay an up-front fee to receive real lottery or sweepstakes winnings. Don't be persuaded or bullied by a smooth operator on the phone. Remember - enroll with the State and National "No - Call" list.
Since 2002 Texans have been able to register a telephone number on the “No Call Lists” to identify themselves as someone who does not want to receive telemarketing calls. Since October 1, 2004 consumers have been able to register for the list free via the internet or pay a nominal fee to register by phone or mail.
For more information about the program or to register for the “No Call Lists” go to www.TexasNoCall.com or call 1-866-896-6225.
Since June 2003, consumers have been able to register their telephone number with the National Do-Not-Call Program to block unwanted telemarketing calls.
Registration is FREE and since February 2008 your registration DOES NOT expire. To register your telephone number(s) or to learn more about the program go to www.donotcall.gov or http://donotcall.gov.
"Help, someone used my name and social security number to open a credit card account!
The 1990's introduced an era of new criminals called "Identity Thieves". Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States. Each day you routinely use and provide personal information (checks, cell phone, credit cards, bank account, social security number, address, etc.) to complete your daily transactions. An identity thief acquires an item of your personal information without your knowledge and uses it to commit fraud or theft by using existing or opening new accounts in your name.
Protecting your Identity
While there is no guarantee your identity will not be stolen, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk:
Do not give out your personal information (SSN, DOB, account numbers, etc.) over the Internet (unless you've initiated the contact or its on a secure website) or to people or companies you do not know.
- Before providing personal information, ask why it is required, how it will be used and safeguarded.
- Guard your mail from theft, put outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or take it to the post office. Never place it in your mailbox! Collect your mail as soon as possible after it has been delivered.
- Minimize the identification information and credit cards you carry.
- Do not carry your SSN or birth certificate unless it is needed. Do not put your SSN, telephone #, or DOB on your checks or credit receipts.
- Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Do not use passwords associated with you (mother's maiden name, DOB, last four numbers of your SSN).
- Keep items with personal identification information in a safe place.
- Shred or tear all documents with personal information you are discarding: charge receipts, bank statements, insurance papers, checks, other financial statements and pre-approved credit applications you have received. Cut up old credit cards or ones you do not use before discarding.
- Pay attention to billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if bills don't arrive on time.
- Cancel credit accounts you do not use (i.e. have not used in the last six months).
- Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies every year. Equifax - www.equifax.com or 800-685-1111; Experian - www.experian.com or 888-397-3742; Trans Union - www.tuc.com or 800-916-8800. Correct any mistakes or discrepancies on your credit report in writing.
If You're a Victim
If you have been a victim of identity theft the steps that you take will depend on your circumstances however, the following actions are appropriate in most cases:
- Contact the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus.
- Obtain a copy of your credit report and request a "fraud alert" be placed in your file. Include a victim's statement asking creditors contact you before opening any new accounts or making changes to existing accounts.
- Contact the creditors for the accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Close accounts that have been tampered with. Include PIN's with new accounts you open.
- File a report with the police and maintain a copy of the report to furnish to creditors.
- Depending on the circumstances of the identity theft you may need to contact the creditor involved as well. For example, if the identity theft occurred as a result of someone stealing your mail, contact the local postal inspector. If a bank account or ATM card is involved, notify your bank.
- Also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-438-4338; or by mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. The FTC does not have criminal jurisdiction but can assist you in resolving the problems that arise from being a victim of identity theft.
- Keep a record/copies of all your correspondence and contacts.
- Credit Score.net
- Federal Trade Commission 1-877-438-4338
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Social Security Administration
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service
- Identity Theft Resource Center
Identity Theft is a Crime: Report It Immediately
Federal law - Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (18 U.S.C. & 1028)
Texas law - Penal code 32.51, Fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.