EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Wess Winn, community services officer and crime prevention coordinator with the Waxahachie Police Department to write a weekly column in an effort to answer many of the law enforcement-related questions posed by our readers. Here’s this week’s column:
It is always good to remind folks about the dangers of identity theft as this crime is committed most of the time now in the United States. In the past I have advised you all about things you can do to make yourself less likely to be a victim; shred junk mail, use a PO Box to get your mail, check your credit report frequently, etc.
In the past we have taken reports from people who were contacted by “MasterCard fraud investigators (scam artists).” The “investigators” told the victim that their credit card could have possibly been used to purchase items fraudulently and that they (investigators) needed the victim’s card numbers and passwords.
Unfortunately, the victims gave them all the information they requested and then mailed the cards to the “investigators” at a residence here in Waxahachie. The victims were in Houston Texas and were told by the investigators that they were sending their cards to a federal building. Before the victim realized it was a scam, over $55,000 had been purchased on the credit card in Mexico.
I realize some crimes are out of our control but when you give the scammers all your personal information and then send them your cards, you are just making it easy for them.
This is a crime that should have never occurred. There is not one bank or credit card service in this country that will ever contact you by phone and ask for your personal information. They may call and alert you to some unusual spending on your credit card, but they will never ask for any personal information over the phone.
Banks will ask you to come in or will have you call them back — and credit card companies have an 800 number on the back of their card for you to use.
NEVER GIVE ANY BANK OR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE TO SOMEONE WHO HAS CALLED YOU.
My family will not give you any information over the phone unless we can call you back at a number we can find in the phone book and not one provided by the caller. These are crimes that can be avoided.
The majority of these crimes are geared toward the 55-plus age group. If someone needs your information, take down their phone number, contact a friend or relative you can trust and let them know what occurred.
Do not let these people pressure or guilt you into any decision. These scammers are good at what they do. They will know all kinds of information about you but they can find such information on the Internet for a small fee.
HANG UP on them so you will not be a victim of this crime. We know this goes on all the time so encourage your friends never to give out financial information over the phone.
Wess Winn holds a master peace officer certification. If you have a Police Beat question for Officer Wess Winn, he may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 469-309-4410. Look for your questions to be answered here in the Waxahachie Daily Light every Sunday or listen to officer Winn’s show on KBEC Radio AM 1390 at 9 a.m. every Monday.