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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 11/24/2010 

 Sheriff Judd Reminds Residents to Shop Safely This Holiday Season 


Sheriff Grady Judd reminds residents to practice safe shopping this holiday season.

"Criminals are always looking for an opportunity to take advantage of you, especially during the holiday season when shopping is at an all-time high," said Sheriff Judd. "Be vigilant when shopping online, at shopping centers, and when traveling. There are many steps you can take to safeguard yourself while shopping."

HOLIDAY SHOPPING SAFETY TIPS:

  • Park in well-lit, well-traveled areas.
  • Keep valuables out of sight and lock all doors.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings   shop with a friend or family member.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash   pay with debit or credit cards.
  • Carry your purse close to your body   never place it in a shopping cart.
  • When you return to your vehicle, have your keys in hand, get in, and immediately lock your doors.
  • Do not approach your car or home alone if there are suspicious people nearby.  If you feel you are being followed, go to a public location, ask for help from security, or call authorities.

TIPS FOR AVOIDING THE LATEST EMAIL SCAM:

  • Do not respond to anyone you do not know.  Anything that requires you to give or send money that you did not initiate, is probably a scam.
  • Assume from the start that an e-mail solicitation is a scam.
  • Never provide personal banking, social security, or credit card information to anyone you don't know or explicitly trust.
  • Do not click links in e-mails   they may take you to a fake, fraudulent site.
  • If you receive something from someone you think you know, confirm their identity in person.
  • Give only to well known charities (check legitimate charities through charity.org)
  • NEVER send money to anyone you don't know.  There are legitimate Internet businesses, but be very careful and stick with well-known sites.  Always confirm the "address" in the Internet Navigation Window with the legitimate, advertised, known website.  Avoid Craig's List or Auction Sites unless you are very skilled at using them, or closely follow their security advice, and use pay-pal or a credit card that will help protect you against theft or fraud.
  • Don't send credit card information or banking information by e-mail it is very easy for scammers to get this information.
  • When ordering on-line, always make certain that you are doing so via a secure connection   look for a "lock" icon on Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  • Finally:  If it is "too good to be true," it is a scam.

TIPS FOR AVOIDING INTERNET AUCTION FRAUD:

  • Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller's obligations are before you bid.
  • Find out what actions the website/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
  • Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
  • Examine the feedback on the seller.
  • Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Be cautious when dealing with sellers outside the United States. If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to rectify.
  • Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by a warranty or can be exchanged if there is a problem.
  • Make sure there are no unexpected costs, including whether shipping and handling is included in the auction price.
  • There should be no reason to give out your social security number or driver's license number to the seller.

TIPS FOR AVOIDING CREDIT CARD FRAUD:

  • Don't give out your credit card number online unless the site is secure and reputable. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but provides some assurance.
  • Don't trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
  • Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
  • Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.
  • Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller's area.
  • Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don't judge a person or company by their website. Flashy websites can be set up quickly.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card number.
  • Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer's contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your credit card(s), contact the card issuer immediately.

Follow these tips to ensure you and your family have a wonderful, and safe, holiday season!