Coronavirus Scam

The Coronavirus is making headlines every day and it’s got us all on edge! We’re running out to buy water, stock up on food storage, purchase hand sanitizer by the dozens, bleach, sanitary wipes, masks, etc. Anything that we think will help us stay healthy.

In addition, schools are closing at the possible hint of exposure, our financial market is declining, and travel is being postponed. What’s also scary, is that vendors are selling fraudulent Covid-19 products that claim to cure the virus. But really, these products can cause major health issues for people and also violate federal law.

Criminals are taking advantage.
As people search for answers, the criminals come out and are trying to take advantage of our fears and desperation. The FBI recently released a warning about a fake world health organization flyer that’s been making the rounds. And phishing scams are on the rise.

What you need to know, so that you don’t get ripped off!
Look out for fraudulent emails and fundraising scams. Emails that look real (but aren’t) are being sent out with links and attachments asking you to click and download. If you do, you could be giving hackers your personal information. A search on GoFundme.com for Coronavirus turns up more than 3,000 results. But the FTC warns that scammers are setting up bogus charities. Be sure to do your research before donating.

Stay informed so that you don’t fall for any of these rip-offs!

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It’s Tax Season! Protect your personal information.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Three words that many people don’t like to hear, let alone talk about. We all have to pay our taxes and we all have to provide certain private information to them, or we could be at risk for fines or other long-term issues.

But if you think about it, the IRS contains a database with 300 million social security numbers. Let’s think about the safety issue that could pose a potential problem with that. They collect, process, and store large amounts of personal information in their system. It’s a gateway for online criminals and identity thieves.

How to minimize your risk and protect your personal information and tax data:

  1. You don’t absolutely have to do everything online. Consider requesting information through traditional mail. It might take longer, but could also be safer.
  2. Voluntarily ask the IRS for an Identity Protection Pin Number (IP PIN). This number helps prevent your SSN from being used on fraudulent federal income tax returns.
  3. Review your credit report at least once a year. And check for any unauthorized activity or errors. Credit bureaus make mistakes all the time, so if you find an error, contact them and they will work with you to get it fixed.
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Are School Lockdown Drills Going Too Far?

This is an issue that has a lot of parents and kids shaken up.

Most schools put students through some kind of active shooter drill. Some practice lock downs, while others are made to feel a little too real, and go so far as to teach kids how to run and hide, barricade doors, and even fight back.

New reports are showing that instead of improving safety, these type of drills are actually doing more harm than good, and in some case cases actually traumatizing students and giving them anxiety.

Shouldn’t schools and districts alike notify students AND parents in advance of running any kind of active shooter assimilation?

Makes sense, right? Well some schools choose not to notify their students or the parents which has made many kids frightened that an active shooter is actually on site for real.

How effective are these drills anyway?

Critics argue that drills can go too far. There should never be an instance where a student thinks that their life is in danger when it actually isn’t.
They could be causing students anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, or worsening school performance.

Perhaps more resources should be focused on preventing gun violence. After all, real lives are at stake.

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Juice Jacking Scam

If you have a cell phone, you want to know about this!

Free public charging stations – you see them everywhere. From malls to airports, it’s a quick and convenient way to power up your phone’s battery – right? Well, apparently plugging in could cost you big in the long run.

What is it?
The scam is called juice jacking. It’s a type of cyber attack involving a charging port that doubles as a data connection. Plug in to juice your phone and a hacker could use that connection to jack your personal information.

Common sense should tell most of us that if a free-standing charging station is setup in an open setting, something is up. But we’re not always smart when our cell phone battery life is low. A free charge could end up draining your bank account. Hackers can watch and record everything on your cell phone screen in real time, so charger beware.

Safety tips to prevent your personal information from being stolen

  1. Use common sense. If a charging station is just sitting out in the open (not even mounted down to the ground), that’s a red flag. Someone is probably sitting nearby waiting for you to plug-in, so they can remotely hack your device and duplicate your screen.
  2. When you plug your device in, you shouldn’t see anything strange on your screen. If you do and it’s out of the norm, stop and disconnect immediately.
  3. Use a wall outlet charger. This is the best way to charge your phone. No information can be transmitted this way and it’s just for power.
  4. Buy a portable charger. They are inexpensive and you can take it with you.
  5. If a charging station question pops up asking you for permission to access your data, say NO. It will still charge without granting access to your personal information.
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Does the presence of law enforcement officers on campus act as a deterrent?

The obvious answer is yes. Just seeing a uniformed police officer on campus and his/her patrol vehicle is enough to put your mind at ease – or on the flip side – make you nervous. Now-a-days, officers can be seen standing in a gym during a basketball game or on a field during football or baseball. It’s currently a natural view.

Supporters argue that it’s is a public safety measure and helps handle threats
Who are we to impede upon a school or its district if they want to allow police officers (retired or off-duty) to legally carry a firearm with the intent to protect students on school campuses?

Opponents say that this would increase the likelihood of a fatal situation
Even when schools have on-duty officers, school shootings are still happening. Does it lessen the chance that more harm can come by having an officer on campus – maybe – maybe not. Perhaps their presence creates unintended consequences like suspensions, expulsions, and arrests – particularly for people of color.

To be clear, school resource officers are sworn police officers and not security guards. There are conflicting studies that show the effectiveness of police on school campuses. But make no mistake – the job is critical in securing the safety of staff, students, campus visitors, and communities as whole.

They are there to help – not to hinder.

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Scam-uary!

Consumer beware! If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat, walks and talks like a rat – IT’S A RAT!

Scammers are continuing to find new ways to target you in a more personal way. Now they are coming for you through text messages and posing as companies we trust, such as FedEx and UPS.

Text messages and emails might look real, but are in fact fake.

The text messages say that you have a delivery coming, but that there is a problem with it. Scammers want you to call or click on the link embedded in the text. Once you click on the link, it takes you to a fake site and starts asking you for personal information (including your credit card). Once you input your card, it’s all over – they just got you and will steal your money.

In fact, new numbers from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that they received nearly 1.7 million fraud reports in 2019. The most common type is when criminals pose as someone else. YIKES! And their number one fraud complaint – social security scammers who call and claim there is a problem with your SSN, threaten you, and demand payment.

Crooks are contacting consumers posing as the police, the IRS, your bank, the courts, even federal agents.

The way they pray on honest hardworking people is sickening. Especially people over the age of 60. This group of individuals are being scammed more than any other age group. If you are in this age group or have a parent or grandparent in this age group, talk to them. Make sure they are aware of the dangers lurking on their cell phones.

Head the warning and don’t fall for tricks.

FedEx issued a nationwide alert tweeting that they do not send unsolicited texts or emails requesting money, packages, or personal information.

Somethings you can do to protect yourself:

  • Stay away from free trial offers
  • Look for grammatical errors in texts or emails
  • Report scams! Contact the FTC at https://www.ftc.gov/

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Border Patrol Safety

Border Patrol agents face dangers every day. Just like any other type of law enforcement officer, they put their life on the line for the good of our country.

In areas such as southwest New Mexico, agents have to worry about traffickers, border crossers, wild life, weather, and more.

A Little About Them:
A Border Patrol Agent typically works alone. Horseback and ATV agents, however, work in pairs. They can work for 10+ hours and never see another person or even animal wild life for that matter. In general, it’s a much slower paced working environment and much more solitary than other working spaces. The distances to patrol are much broader in scope than traditional agents working suburban areas.

Disturbance of the Earth:
Agents look for anything out of the ordinary, especially changes to the appearance of the desert ground. Border crossers and smugglers sometimes try to cover their tracks, but the disturbance of the dirt is a red flag. A trail of disturbed earth often leads to footprints.

The Desert is Unforgiving
In an unforgiving environment, how do agents stay safe? They might be tracking a group of people (at night), and have to worry about snakes, coyotes, even the weather. One can’t control the climate of the desert, nor the temperatures. They are highly skilled, trained, and well prepared to face whatever comes their way. They are always on guard and always in communication with the nearest headquarters.

Make no mistake about it – this job is dangerous, and Agents are always on alert. Thank goodness they have our back!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In order to give our staff time to spend with their families during the holiday season, Privacy for Cops will be closed December 25, 2019 and January 1, 2020.

Support Options Limited

Beginning December 24, 2019 to January 2, 2020, support options will be limited. We appreciate your patience during this time.

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Holiday Scam Warnings

From gift card fraud to malicious cyber campaigns, holiday hustlers are coming up with new ways to scam shoppers online and take their money.

The newest scam – emails or calls asking for payment in gift cards via a call from a fake IRS agent collecting back taxes. Or an urgent email from someone offering to fix your computer.

The Federal Trade Commission says anyone who demands payment by gift card, is ALWAYS a SCAMMER. Sadly, there have been $74 million dollars in gift card related scammers already this year. So, how can we protect ourselves from being a prime target?

Here are 10 reminders to help you preserve your holiday spirit, so that you don’t get ripped off:

  1. Inspect gift cards before you buy them. Make sure the packaging is in tact and the pin number is still covered.
  2. Save your receipts. That can be huge in the event you receive a card that doesn’t work.
  3. Treat gift cards like cash! Once they’re used, they’re gone.
  4. If you are shopping online and looking at a website that asks for your personal information before you even decide to purchase – STOP and exit the site. It’s likely a scam. Don’t give them any information!
  5. Don’t fall for phishing emails. Emails posing as prominent emails retailers are just trying to get you to hand over personal information or download a malicious program.
  6. Check the source email address. If you are not sure if its real, call the retailer directly (not the phone number in the email).
  7. Never click links in an email you are unsure of. Once you do that, you’ll open yourself up to the possibility of spyware.
  8. Social media shopping platforms are a popular target. Check the price and compare it with other sites.
  9. Check ads for spelling or grammar mistakes. Those are often indicators of fraud.
  10. Porch pirates are on the rise. Set delivery alerts so that you know when your package ships and when it arrives. Cameras at your door are always a good idea as well.

Finally, when you are deciding how best to purchase (cash or credit card), cash is king for small purchases. But credit cards (not debit cards) are really the way to go for large purchases, because they have purchase protection.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

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