RPSO promotes International Fraud Awareness week November 3-9 - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

RPSO promotes International Fraud Awareness week November 3-9

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - Sheriff William Earl Hilton and the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office are promoting fraud awareness for International Fraud Awareness Week November 3-9, 2013.


"We want to educate our citizens to be aware of possible fraudulent activity on their bank accounts, credit cards and credit reports. We need to stay vigilant where our personal information is concerned" said Sheriff Hilton. "Just today, a citizen contacted our office stating he had won a large amount of money from a lottery he entered and the limo was on its way to bring it to him. However, they needed a $299.00 processing fee through a Wal-Mart gift card. Of course this was a scam; this person had never entered a lottery."


Fraud schemes are extremely costly and can continue for months before they are detected. And they can happen to anyone.  The elderly are some of the most preyed upon victims.


Here are a few tips to help you stay safe and not be a victim of a fraudulent crime:


1. There are NO legitimate "Secret Shopper" jobs online. Do not apply!


2. Do NOT send money by wire transfer services or any other means where only cash is required unless you know without any doubt who you are sending it to and can get it back if needed.


3. Use credit cards NOT debit cards. Using credit can give you some of the anti-fraud protection and delay the charge hitting your account. When using a debit card the funds are deducted from your bank account immediately.


4. NEVER give personal information to a caller or respond to an email from someone claiming to be with a law enforcement agency. Law enforcement agencies do not collect money via phone or email.


5. If you have not been a victim of identity theft, you will be. In today's information-based society, there are only two types of financial crime victims- those who have been and those who will be.


6. Keep personal information in a safe place. To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to steal your personal information, tear or shred any documents with personal and/or bank information including receipts, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statement, bank checks and statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers.


7. Give your social security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.


8. Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his/her tracks.


9. Once a year, order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Make sure it is accurate and includes only those activities you've authorized. This should be done for everyone in your family, including children.


10. When doing business online, never accept payments in excess of the agreed sales price accompanied by a request to forward the overage amount to a third party (normally under the guise of covering for shipping costs).


11. If at all possible, do not put outgoing mail (specifically bill payments) in unsecured, flag-style, curbside mailboxes. This is a common source for identity thieves to get the information they want.


If you feel like you have been a victim of fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency. You may also go to http://www.fraudweek.com/ to get more information on ways to protect your personal information.

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