Christmas Season is SCAM Season
I love the Christmas season—the songs, the presents, the generosity, and the care and concern we show for each other. I love the joy and celebrations, and the peace and goodwill the season brings.
The Christmas season really can brighten our spirits and lift our hearts.
I have always thought of the Christmas Season starting on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But with stores opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving evening, it seems like we have to leave the house with tummies full of turkey and pumpkin pie if we want to get one of those great Black Friday (or Black Thursday?) deals.
And while stores are working on better and better deals to entice us out of the house, this Christmas season crooks are working on new scams to take advantage of our Christmas spirit.
In years past, it might have been enough to warn you to lock your car doors and keep your gifts stored out of sight while you’re shopping. Or to warn you to delete those emails from a “friend” in a far off country (someone you don’t actually know) who needs your money to help with some personal tragedy.
It might have been considered a little paranoid to mention checking your credit card and bank statements regularly for fraud, identity theft, and suspicious activity. But today, these warnings just don’t seem to be enough.
Today, crooks are creating scams that are more and more complex. Today, crooks call or e-mail you at home or send mail to you–with knowledge about you. They know your name, address and other personal information, and they work hard to take advantage of your goodwill, confuse you, or scare you out of your money.
What you need to know is that these callers, e-mailers, and mailers are NOT who they say they are!
These scammers often offer a few personal details about you that they’ve gathered from the internet, social media or some other source, and in return they want you to supply more information so they can steal your identity, or fraudulently trick you into giving them your money.
Often, they threaten to stop a critical service like your electricity, your water, or your newspaper.
Sometimes they say they need your help to get a family member out of jail, or they might even threaten to arrest you or suspend your driver’s license if you don’t give them what they want.
If someone is calling, e-mailing or mailing you like this—BE SUSPICIOUS!
If they ask you to reveal personal details or threaten you—HANG UP!
Recently, we’ve seen an increase in these scams across the country.
The scams include many variations, and our advice is simple: check first. The best tool in deterring and preventing crimes is your instincts. If you think something is wrong, it probably is. Always call and check before acting.
A great place to start is Fraud Avengers (http://fraudavengers.org). They have up-to-date information about common frauds, current scams, and resources to help you prevent and report scams. The site also has links to other website partners in the fight against fraud, as well as a vast library of blogs arranged by subject matter to help you identify, prevent and take action against these crimes.
I would also encourage everyone to register with the National Do Not Call Registry. This service is available to help consumers block unwanted telemarketing calls at home, or to file a report about misconduct from a telemarketer. It’s as simple as clicking on www.donotcall.gov and registering your phone number.
This holiday season, please take a minute to protect yourself and your family from these scams–I know you’ll be glad you did.
On behalf of all of Ukiah Police Department’s personnel, Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for making our community such a wonderful place.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.