Crime Prevention Tips
Remember don't be a victim, if you are unsure of the authenticity or credibility of any person or business contact us.
If it sounds to good to be true it probably is...
The anxiety that can arise when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) informs you, "there is a problem with your return" can make many vulnerable to scam artists and identity thieves who prey on such feelings. They send out fraudulent emails claiming to be the IRS, seeking your personal information like name, date of birth and Social Security number. Know that the IRS will not contact you by email regarding your tax return.
If you receive an email from anyone claiming to be the IRS, do not open any attachments. The attachments could infect your computer with a virus or send your personal information straight to identity thieves.
Over the last several years, many people have been looking for new jobs - out of necessity or by choice. Some identity thieves gather information from resumes posted online, so they seem to be legitimate when they call and pose as a prospective employer asking for your Social Security number and other details for a background check. Also beware of work-at-home "opportunities" that ask you to pay an upfront fee to started.
Credit Card Scams
Some scam artists posing as bank employees send emails or make telephone calls offering to lower your interest rates. Instead of clicking on the link or responding to a phone call, call your credit card company directly, using the customer service number from one of your statements, to see if the offer is legitimate.
Bank account or credit account verification scams
This scams starts with you receiving a phone call or an email informing you that your credit card or bank account has been compromised. Invariably the caller or email will want you to verify your account information with them and at this point when you do the scammers have got your account number(s). Remember a credit card company or bank will have your account information already and will not need you to "provide" it to them when they call, they simply verify your identification.
Internet Marketplace Scams
Some buyers ask if they can send a check for MORE than the asking amount and have the seller wire the extra amount back to them. Do not do this, as they were never interested in buying the actual item in the first place. The money sent via wire service is gone. The most popular marketplaces have local sections. Seek to do business locally and research the realistic value of the item for sale before buying or selling.
Social Networking Scams
NEVER allow your social network pages to be "open" to everyone. Use the privacy settings to limit what users of the web can view until after being accepted as a "friend". In addition, don't accept new friends unless you know who they are. Many people foolishly post their address and date of birth on their pages, making the work for identity thieves that much easier.
Parents: check your children's social networking sites. Many kids innocently accept anyone as a "friend" - including child predators. Some parents are also shocked to learn their pre-teens have a social network page. Even though there are age restrictions for opening a social page account, tech savvy kids find a way. Check their page almost as often as you check your email. Remember if they won't share their password with you, then there is probably something on their page that is concerning. Lastly, the latest trend is the categorization within social networking sites. Page sponsors can limit their friends to see only certain sub-groups within their page - like keeping parents separate from fellow teens. The best parents know the answers to the Who, What, When , Where, Why and How questions regarding their childrens' friends and activities.
For additional information on identity theft and resources to help if you've been victimized, click on the Federal Trade Commission's website at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
Other Common Scams
Home Improvement Scams
Beware of the travelling home improvement contractors who knock on your door with news of extra materials on hand so a real deal can be had. Often, it's not. An example are driveway sealing contractors. While there are many reputable contractors, some will rip off residents with substandard products that are poorly applied for an expensive price. We have even heard of used motor oil being spread on driveways, purported to be driveway sealer! Sales pressure is then turned up to demand payment for work that was "already done".
Other home improvement troubles arise when a contractor demands most or all of the money up front. Some contractors simply need the money to buy materials to start your job. Others have no intention of doing the work and simply pocket the cash while giving a false timetable of when they will start on your project. Talk to your family, neighbors and friends to find honorable contractors - positive word of mouth is the best advertisement.
Some thieves will dress like utility workers, asking to enter your residence to check on your electric, gas, water service and etc. This is usually done in pairs. One will distract the homeowner while the other quickly rummages through your valuables, stealing what they can. Know that your local utility workers are happy to present their employment credentials to prove their identity. If unsure, refuse them entry, tell them you are calling the utility to check them out and also the police, if needed. True utility workers will remain on scene outside, happily awaiting our arrival while scammers are long gone!
Lastly, don't be afraid to ask door-to-door salespeople for their soliciting permit. It is unlawful to solicit in Yardley without a permit, except for religious organizations doing visits with evangelical element to their presentation. They should have the permit in their possession along with proper identification. Most are legitimate businesses with real products to offer but some refuse to obtain a sales permit. If they won't show their permit, give us a call so we can check them out.