Posts Tagged ‘crime watch’

The age-old saying, “If it seems to be too good to be true, then it probably is” holds true most of the time.

Has this every happened to you or someone you know?  You receive a call or letter from a so-called broker offering some type of investment tip.  It can actually be a well-scripted, elaborate scam.  First they get your confidence because they state they don’t want any money from you, etc.  Then after the third or fourth phone call or letter, they have a great opportunity with no risk to you for a certain $$$.

In this day and age, money is tight, taxes are high, and budgets are being squeezed.  We all want to make more money to give family and ourselves a little breathing room and some financial freedom.

What should you do?

Here are seven guidelines for staying safe from “would be” scams:

  1. Work with trusted professionals.

Ask for references on any broker or financial group you’re considering investing with and actually call these references.  Make sure that your broker answers all your questions.

  1. Know when to hang up the phone.

Ignore unsolicited calls.  Never give out ANY personal information, even if they say they are representing your bank or credit card company.

  1. Take the time to really look at the proposal.

Don’t make a quick, hasty decision.  Allow it to sit and do your homework.

  1. Watch your credit cards.

Always shred and carefully store any credit card receipts.  Make it a habit to always review your credit card statements each month.

  1. Take a step back and know when you’re the most vulnerable.

If you’re in a vulnerable situation, it can make it easier to fall victim to a scam.  Know exactly what you’re investing in and take the necessary steps outlined above before you act.  Don’t let fear drive your investment.

  1. Be wary of something that you want to hear.

Anyone who is trying to sell something, even the legitimate ones, know how to make a hard sale based on people’s hopes and dreams.  Listen, but make your decision on the entire picture with the “worst case” and “best case” scenarios.

  1. Remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

It’s generally best not to buy on a “hot tip” or when it’s offered to “only a select group of people”.  Do your homework and only make investments that you can afford and afford to lose.

Finally, if you believe that you or anyone you know are being targeted for a scam, REPORT IT immediately to law enforcement.

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When should you call 9-1-1?

You should call 9-1-1 when any life or property is endangered, suspicious activity, or a crime in progress. 

Be observant and calm so that you can describe the 5 “W”s to the police or dispatcher.

1.                  Who – person(s) involved

2.                  What – the incident or what’s happening

3.                  When – the time it occurred

4.                  Where – the location or address

5.                  Weapons – the type(s) and quantity used

Try and remember these three areas if possible when describing a crime or suspicious activity.  Write down this information on a piece of paper while it’s still fresh in your mind.  It can be easy to forget some important details because of being scared, excited, sidetracked, or overwhelmed.

  • Perpetrator

Think about the person from top to bottom: gender, race, hair color and length, eye color, height, weight, age, unique specifics (scars, tattoos, glasses, hat, etc.), and clothing type.

  • Vehicle

Take a good look at the car involved: color, year, make/model, body style (2 or 4 door, pick up, hatchback), and unique specifics (dents, bumper stickers, different color body parts, etc.).

  • Direction of travel

Note the direction of travel.  This can be extremely important for the police and they may be able to catch the perpetrator immediately based on this information.

Be sure to have your local emergency numbers available for quick and easy access for your entire family. 

Talk to your children about these types of emergencies and prepare them to call the police if necessary with the guidelines listed above.

For more information about crime and emergencies, please don’t hesitate to contact your local police department or community service officer.

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Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting

Identity theft crime occurs when any individual acquires a piece of personal information without your knowledge and uses it to commit fraud at your expense.  Identity theft crimes affected almost 10 million victims in 2008, which is an increase of 22% from the previous year.  It has been estimated that 71% of fraud occurs within a week of stealing a victim’s personal information. 

We are a society that takes advantage of the high-tech convenience of using the Internet for purchases, banking, loans, and social networking.  With this convenience also comes a price for personal security, but there are simple safeguards that you can use everyday. 

There are three common types of personal information that identity thieves look for to commit their fraudulent crimes that can ultimately ruin your credit. 

  1. Credit Cards
  2. Phone or Utilities                 
  3. Banking and Depository Account

The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud that accounts for approximately 26% of all identity theft crimes.  The identity thief opens a new credit card account in the victim’s name and uses the credit card for purchases or cash without ever paying the bill.  The victim doesn’t realize that there’s a problem because the bills are sent to a new address.  It is also common for the identity thief to call the credit card company to change the mailing address on the existing account.  Again, the victim doesn’t realize that there’s a problem until it’s too late.  

The second most common type of identity theft, which accounts for more than half the number of victims of credit card theft or approximately 18%, is for phones or utilities.  The identity thief signs up for cell phone service, telephone long distance service, or new utilities using the victim’s name. 

The third most common category of identity theft, which accounts for more than a third of the number of victims of credit card theft or approximately 17%, involves banking and depository accounts.  The identity thief opens a new bank account, makes electronic fund transfers, or writes bad checks all on the victim’s accounts.  Loan fraud accounts for a small portion of depository accounts or approximately 5%, but is still an important category to list and to be aware of the potential risks.    

Here are Emily’s top ten guidelines for keeping your identity safe: 

1.      Check your credit reports annually.  If at all possible, check your credit reports monthly or quarterly.

2.      Issue a fraud alert with each major reporting agency: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

3.      If you purchase anything online, make certain that the website is encrypted and shows a small padlock icon at the bottom right-hand corner of your computer screen.

4.      If you purchase anything online for a gift, make certain that the bill will not be sent along with the gift containing personal identification and credit card numbers.

5.      Don’t toss any personal documents into the trash.  Buy a shredder at your local office supply store and shred all of your documents, mail, or anything that would have your name, address, or other personal information on it.

6.      Cut up all of your expired credit cards before discarding them into the trash.

7.      If you expect a bill and it doesn’t arrive, notify the issuing company immediately.

8.      If your credit card is lost or stolen, notify the police immediately to file a report and contact your credit card company.

9.      Don’t leave your mail in the mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up.  Always post your mail directly at the Post Office.

10.  Never give out personal information online or to phone solicitors, such as your social security number or passwords. 


Crime Watch Blog:
Book & Crime Talk:
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting

Emily Stone is the heroine in my novels Compulsion, Dead Game, and soon to be released this year Dark Mind. She expertly tracks down pedophiles and serial killers and then anonymously emails her entire investigation to the police detective in charge of the case. She’s definitely one high-tech super sleuth that gets the job done as more criminals are taken off the streets. Her compulsion is to make sure that children, neighbors, and communities are safe from crime.
It’s important not to become a target for a potential crime and there are a few basic tips that will help to keep you safe when traveling from one destination to the next.

Try and remember these three basic tips when you’re out in public areas:

1. Alert – be prepared and alert to where you are going and what you’re going to be doing next. Don’t get distracted by searching through your purse for keys or dialing your cell phone as you leave work or a shopping area. This makes you unaware of what’s going on around you and who could be watching you. It could potentially make you a crime target. If you are walking out to a parking lot have your key or alarm release ready. Get inside your vehicle and lock your doors before you do anything that takes your mind off the immediate surroundings.

2. Confidence – move and walk with confidence. That means make eye contact and carry your body straight with your shoulders back and down looking straight ahead. Confidence can be a valuable defense tactic and it can go a long way to help deter being a potential crime victim.

3. Observe – take a few seconds to observe your surroundings. It can be just a quick glance in several directions or studying something in more detail. If something doesn’t look or seem right to you, then retreat back into a public area for assistance. Also, if you notice something that seems out of place remember simple things, such as the exact location, description of all people involved, cars or objects, and exactly what you observed. This can be extremely important information to police investigations.

I actually carry a small spiral notebook, something that I can slip into a pocket or purse, to record anything that I feel looks out of place in public locations. That way I can refer to my notes if something ever transpires from the observed situation.

If you ever feel that you are in any danger or witness any type of crime, don’t hesitate to call the police immediately.


Crime Watch Blog:
Book & Crime Talk:
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting