If you have an Emergency call: 911
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is tasked with following up violations of statutes concerning Telemarketing, Theft, Computer Fraud, Forgery, Fraud, Worthless Documents, and Exploitation. Each member of the Sheriffs Office makes public speaking engagements for a variety of audiences to help people understand detecting, deterring, and prosecuting fraud. There a number of points offered by the Sheriffs Office to help avoid fraud and its related activities:
WORTHLESS DOCUMENTS (Checks) - Never accept a check from someone, especially a stranger, unless you have positively determined whom it is you are dealing with or taking the check from. It is acceptable to ask for proper identification, with a color photograph, and often more than one form of identification. Many businesses use cameras to photograph their customers for later identification. Some businesses clear the checks with the bank prior to accepting them. You are not required to accept a check for a transaction if you do not want to, and the same is true for credit cards.
Remember, the issuance of checks without sufficient funds is a violation of the law and illegal in all states.
Here are some tips on what to do when accepting a check:
Do not accept a check as a replacement for a previously dishonored check. Do not accept a check as partial payment for a bad check. Do not accept a check if you know the issuer has given you bad checks in the past. Do not return the bad check if the issuer asks for it.
If you are receipt of a bad check, and you have exhausted all of your options in attempting to recover your loss, you should notify the issuer through a formal mailing. In the event this does not work, contact the Jefferson County Attorneys Office.
CRIMES AGAINST THE ELDERLY - These types of offenses seek to exploit senior citizens by preying upon their confidence. These types of crimes include the bank examiner scam and the pigeon drop. Home health care representatives and telemarketers can also victimize elderly people. It is important for senior citizens to understand that they do not have to engage in any business or purchase anything, no matter how hard the sell is, or how good it seems. These types of swindles are not limited to the elderly, although they are frequent victims or marks. Con artists like to choose senior citizens, because they believe the elderly to be gullible, or good natured and likely to believe a story, or too weak to put up a real struggle.
CRIMES AGAINST BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS - Con artists and employees alike steal from businesses. Owners and operators have to be on guard to protect against losses. Offenders posing as sales people will attempt to sell a product that is either worthless or will not be delivered as promised. Businesses should also watch out for slip and fall liability claims. There are very well trained people out there looking to steal from susceptible businesses. Your local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or the Sheriff's Office can provide security surveys or more tips on avoiding losses.
Questions You Should Ask Yourself -
Telemarketing scams have been around since the 1920's. Other forms of cons and swindles have been around for centuries. The expression "A fool and his money are soon parted" is the motto of swindlers and con-artists. If you can answer yes to any of the above questions you may be the victim of a fraud. Here are some tips to avoid fraud:
Your first line of defense is common sense. Get-Rich-Quick schemes appeal to the greed in all of us. Pigeon Drops, Bank Examiners, and phony charities appeal to our good nature. A rule to remember is, if it sounds too good to be true, it is! Another one is, if it does not seem like good common sense to you, then it isn't.
In each of the questions above there were two recurring themes: One was someone trying to get you to give them your money for some reason, and the other most important one is that in every case, it was a complete stranger! Ask yourself, Why would a complete stranger want to do something like this for me? If you cannot think of a very valid reason (and you probably won't), then decline the invitation.
Watch for reports of certain types of activity in the media, either on television, in the newspaper, or on the radio. Watch out for bulletins. When the Sheriff's Office or other police agencies detect con artists or swindlers working in the vicinity, they get quick cooperation from the media to get the word out. For example, recently there have been con artists within the Home Health Care industry taking advantage of the elderly in this area.
Never, ever, discuss the state of your finances with a stranger. What possible interest could it be to someone, except to take it from you? Never, ever, withdraw money from an account at the request of a stranger. Why would you want to give a stranger your money?
If you ever have any doubt, mention it to the bank employee, hang up the telephone, and tell the stranger to get lost, and contact the Sheriff's Office for assistance.
Do not ever give your credit card number or bank account numbers to anyone, especially over the telephone, unless you initiated the call or know and trust the company. If you are not sure, terminate the call by hanging up. Tell the other party this call has been traced and police have been notified.
Do not ever be pressured into buying something you do not want or cannot see. High-pressure tactics urging you to invest right now or forever lose this opportunity should tip you off to a possible fraud operation. If the other party asserts that there is little or no risk for your money, this should be a red flag. Ask yourself, Why would a stranger call you from out of the blue to offer you such a sweet deal?
Get all of the information you can to confirm any conversation you have with a stranger, either on the telephone or in person. Reputable firms encourage you to ask questions and verify their claims with outside authorities. A swindler will not answer direct questions, or smooth his or her response, or dance around the answer.
There is nothing that says you have to do business with a complete stranger or that you cannot simply hang up or terminate a conversation with a stranger. The only thing a con artist wants is your money. If you think you are being swindled, or have been the victim of a con artist, contact the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office to report it.
GUARDING AGAINST COMPUTER FRAUD (Better Computer Security) - There are four key elements for effective computer security:
You should observe some rules of thumb for better security of your computer equipment and valuable data:
AUTOMOBILES - Car thieves will alter the identity of a stolen car and attempt to sell it to an unsuspecting buyer. To avoid being caught in this situation, take the following precautions: