Email and Phone Scams
We have seen a continuing trend of email and phone scams impacting the region as well as our own residents. While not an all-inclusive list, these scams vary from international lottery winnings, inheritance funds, and financial transactions offers through threats against relatives and/or relatives/friends being stranded overseas. Some involve false notices that your credit card, bank or business account has been compromised. With these scams an advanced fee or personal information is being requested. In most cases these are mass spam messages looking for a response. Please do not respond to these.
The Ridgewood Police Department would like to offer the following information on how to protect your personal information. That helps you protect your identity and from scams. Here are some preventative actions you can take:
• At home:
*Keep your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards in a safe place
*Shred papers that have your personal or medical information
*Check your bank statements carefully and often. Report any inquiries or suspicious behavior to your bank, who will take measures to protect your account and notify proper authorities.
*Take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can
*Keep a list of valid contact numbers and information in a safe place for all credit card, internet accounts and service providers.
* Never respond to suspicious emails or calls requesting or demanding money or personal information.
* Promptly destroy all old cards or cards you no longer use. Dispose of them in a manner ensuring the card number is unrecognizable.
* Do not write your card number on a postcard notifying you that you have won a prize or gift and requesting the number as part of the award arrangements.
• As you do business:
*Only give your Social Security number if you must. Ask if you can use another kind of identification
* Do not give your personal information to someone who calls you or emails you
*Retain all carbon copies of your receipts when making a purchase and retain receipts from ATM withdrawals. If you don't get a billing statement on time, notify the credit card issuer immediately.
* Check billing statements carefully upon receipt to make sure all charges are yours. Errors or changes that don't belong should be reported as soon as possible.
* Remember to get your card back after purchasing goods or services. Do not leave the card in hotel rooms or unnecessarily exposed for long periods of time. The number can be copied even if the card is not taken.
• On the computer:
* Use passwords that are not easy to guess. Use numbers and symbols when you can
* Do not respond to emails or other messages that ask for personal information
* do not put personal information on a computer in a public place, like the library
• If you believe you have been the victim of credit card fraud or identity theft the following steps should assist you:
* Report the crime to the police immediately. Get a copy of your police report or case number. Credit card companies, your bank, and the insurance company may ask you to reference the report to verify the crime.
* Immediately contact your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers and ask that the old account be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" for credit record purposes. You should also follow up this telephone conversation with a letter to the credit card company that summarizes your requests in writing.
* Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus. Report the theft of your credit cards and/or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report requesting they contact you to verify future credit applications. The following is a list of addresses and numbers to the three credit bureaus:
Equifax Credit Information Services - Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 105496
Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5496
Tel: (800) 997-2493
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, Texas 75013-2104
Tel: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Trans Union Fraud Victim Assistance Dept.
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
Tel: (800) 680-7289
* Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities.
* Notify the Social Security Administration if you suspect your Social Security number has been used fraudulently.
For additional information you contact our department to speak with one of our crime prevention officers and/or detectives 201-652-3900.