FINANCIAL CRIME$ UNIT
Investigations and Crime Prevention for:
$$$ Fraud $$$ – forging documents or creating false documents to steal funds
$$$ Identity Theft $$$ – using your Personal Identifying Information to open or use your accounts
$$$ Scams $$$ – theft of your funds by trickery or false pretenses
$$$ Embezzlement $$$ – ongoing lengthy schemes to steal from employers
QUICK LINKS – Table of Contents for this Page (last updated 12-27-2018)
- Prevention – Don’t be an easy target!
- Scams – What are they? Have you been a victim? (updated 12-26-18)
- Identity Theft – Have you been a victim?
- Already made a police report with Oxnard PD? Click here to find out what to do next.
- Resources for businesses (updated 10-31-18)
- Educational resources (updated 9-5-18)
- Links to other agencies for additional information and current trends
- 3 credit bureaus
- Was your Social Security Number used fraudulently?
- Real estate fraud (updated 10-31-18)
CURRENT SCAM TRENDS: Spoofing phone numbers for Social Security Administration (listen to example)
and banks with demands for your information due to “urgent” issues. Relative in an emergency or kidnapped and needs money. Also, scams on small businesses for false orders and escrow companies email spoofs to steal your down payment! (Updated 12-27-2018)
- The real SSA number is 1-800-772-1213, but scammers are putting that number in the caller ID. If you’re worried about what the caller says, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real SSA. Even if the wait time is long, confirm with the real SSA before responding to one of these calls.
PREVENTION: VERIFY everything before speaking further with these callers. They usually won’t provide a call back number if you ask for one. Just hang up and call your bank or relatives BEFORE sending any money. Tell the scammers that you reported them to the police and FBI.
September 21, 2018
Starting today, consumers who are concerned about identity theft or data breaches can freeze their credit and place one-year fraud alerts for free.
Under the new Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, consumers in some states – those who previously had to pay fees to freeze their credit – will no longer have to do so.
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, restricts access to a consumer’s credit file, making it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in the consumer’s name. The new law also allows parents to freeze for free the credit of their children who are under 16, while guardians, conservators, and those with a valid power of attorney can get a free freeze for their dependents.
In addition, the new law extends the duration of a fraud alert on a consumer’s credit report from 90 days to one year. A fraud alert requires businesses that check a consumer’s credit to get the consumer’s approval before opening a new account.
As part of its work to implement the new law, the Federal Trade Commission has updated its IdentityTheft.gov website with credit bureau contact information, making it easier for consumers to take advantage of the new provisions outlined in the law.
To place a credit freeze on their accounts, consumers will need to contact all three nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Whether consumers ask for a freeze online or by phone, the credit bureau must put the freeze in place within one business day. When consumers request to lift the freeze by phone or online, the credit bureaus must take that action within one hour. (If consumers make these requests by mail, the agency must place or lift the freeze within three business days.)
To place a fraud alert, consumers need only contact one of the three credit bureaus, which will notify the other two bureaus.
Credit freezes and fraud alerts are two important steps consumers can take to help prevent identity theft. Identity theft was the second biggest category of consumer complaints reported to the FTC in 2017 — making up nearly 14 percent of all the consumer complaints filed last year. Consumers who believe they have been the victim of identity theft can report it and receive a personalized recovery plan at IdentityTheft.gov.
Help for financial caregivers
But what about people who can’t manage their finances on their own? The new law lets people with certain legal authority act on someone else’s behalf to freeze and unfreeze their credit file. The new law defines a “protected consumer” as an incapacitated person, someone with an appointed guardian or conservator, or a child under the age of 16.
If you’re acting on behalf of a protected consumer, you must give the credit reporting agencies proof of authority before you can freeze and unfreeze the protected consumer’s credit. Proof of authority includes:
- A court order (such as an order naming you guardian or conservator), or
- A valid power of attorney.
To freeze or unfreeze the credit file of a child under 16, you must provide other proof of authority.
You’ll also need to provide proof of your identity, which can be your Social Security card, your birth certificate, or your driver’s license or other government issued identification.
PREVENTION – Don’t be an easy target!
Everybody should take constant steps to prevent identity theft. Data breaches occur every day, and international criminals steal Personal Identifying Information to use it for a wide variety of criminal enterprises. It is best to assume that your Information has already been compromised, and be vigilant by taking every precaution available. Credit reporting services are available at no cost through several organizations. Do the research and find a solution that works best for you. Below are recommended monthly habits:
- Check credit reports for new activity. There are free options available including apps for smart phones. Set alerts if available to receive email and/or text message alerts. Lock or freeze your credit every year NOW for FREE by all 3 credit reporting bureaus are: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. (updated September 21, 2018)
- Check your existing accounts at all of your financial institutions for banking services including checking, savings, and credit accounts. Check your account activity for anything you did not approve. Activate any available security alerts and set thresholds that work for your needs. Notify your banks whenever you travel. Limit the use of your accounts to specific activities such as one credit card for online transactions, and select credit cards to be used when travelling. Always establish online accounts, even if you don’t intent to use online banking, so that there is no open door for criminals to access your account.
- Keep Personal Identifying documents in a locked location inside your home. Such documents include passports, Social Security cards, credit cards that you don’t regularly use, check books, vehicle and property titles to name a few examples. The box could be small enough to retrieve in the event of fire. Consider a box that can be hidden and secured to immobile objects so as not to be stolen during a home burglary.
- Avoid using unsecured mailing services. Avoid mailing or receiving checks and banking information in the mail. Consider locations with enhanced security features and live or video monitoring. Never leave any Personal Identifying Information unsecured in your car. Mail theft and thefts from vehicles are common practices among identity thieves.
- Use caution online. International criminals have exploited the Internet to disguise malware and viruses in everything from email messages to advertisements to news articles. Use an encrypted program to store your bank account information, passwords, and security answers. Make your security answers nonsensical such as lyrics to songs that are not featured on your social networking profiles. Backup your data in the event of a ransomware attack or false IT service scam. If a scammer begins to communicate with you online in real time, shut down your system as soon as possible. Wait a few hours before trying to power on offline to clean your system of malware and viruses. Regularly update your anti-virus and operating system software. Be cautious in what information you share on social networking sites and check privacy settings on a regular basis. Never share Personal Identifying Information with or send funds to anybody you haven’t met in person or verified through your own offline research.
- Before inserting or swiping your credit/debit card, check for security. Tug on card readers to make sure a skimming device overlay is not installed, especially at gas pumps. All keypad and card slots should be smooth and in good repair. A jammed ATM or posted repair sign can indicate that the working one has been targeted by criminals. Criminals install overlays, skimmers, and pinhole cameras to steal your magnetic stripe information and PIN. Report any irregularities to the bank or merchant immediately. Non-bank ATM’s such as those inside convenience stores generally don’t have video cameras installed.
Continue learning more below. There are links to a variety of resources that can help you avoid becoming a victim or recover your identity in the event that you already know that you have been victimized. Check these sites on a regular basis as improvements are continuously made by the many agencies working to prevent these crimes.
SCAMS – What are they? Have you been a victim?
A scam is a theft by trickery. (Click here for a video example.) The suspect misrepresented himself as somebody in order to trick you to steal your money. Avoid scams by verifying before making payment. Legitimate business deals that don’t go the way you expected are not scams, but can be reported to the Better Business Bureau.
Face to face scams – Somebody during personal contact sells you something that does not exist or does a “bait and switch” to trick you and steal your money. These can be dangerous if the suspect went to you home or drove you to your bank or other locations. Report to local law enforcement as soon as possible. * Call 911 if the suspect is still nearby. * Call (805) 385-7770 (City of Oxnard non-emergency line) if the suspect is gone and the crime occurred in the City of Oxnard.
Mail scams – often sweepstakes winning or false advertisements. Report to the US Postal Service, FBI, and FTC.
Telephone (landline or cell phone) or online (email, social networking, bulletin board posts) – many varieties usually involving an element of false impersonation. Report to the FBI and FTC. Also, notify the hosting web site’s security department and block the caller’s phone numbers as necessary.
Imposter scams involve someone pretending to be a government official, tech support representative, loved one in trouble, or someone else in order to get consumers to give the scammer money. Gift cards are attractive to scammers because they provide anonymity and are very difficult to reverse once used. If someone tells you to pay with a gift card, don’t do it. Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments.
Phishing is when someone uses fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information – like account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. Scammers use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both. They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data. Scammers often use familiar company names, such as your bank or service provider, or pretend to be someone you know. (updated 12-26-2018)
If you have been a victim of an online, mail, or phone SCAM – REPORT to the FTC and FBI. There is no need to report to local authorities unless you need a report for tax deduction, insurance, or banking purposes for documentation only.
FTC Complaints to report to the Federal Trade Commission – offers civil consumer protection and possible restitution.
FTC Alerts to receive email alerts of current scam trends.
FBI IC3 to report to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center – conducts criminal investigations.
FBI warning – online auto sales scams (January 17, 2018) Don’t fall victim to online vehicle sales scams!
Tech Support Scam (March 28, 2018) FBI article – Don’t fall victim to tech support scams!
USPIS to report mail fraud and mail theft the US Postal Inspectors Service.
IRS to report IRS tax impersonation scams.
http://romancescamsurvivor.org/ a resource for victims and friends/family of victims of online romance scams.
The Coalition for Family Harmony offering local counseling services in Ventura County to victims of online romance scams & by phone (805)983-6014 x 1120 or 800-300-2181.
Online Romance Scams (February 2018) Definitive Information from the Better Business Bureau – Don’t fall victim!
To VERIFY businesses and other information:
CA DBO the California Department of Business Oversight – licensing of all financial institutions, money transmitters, investment bankers, and financial planners.
To report Real Estate Fraud, report to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office: Report Forms
BEWARE: theft of your down payment via Business Email Compromise (updated 10-31-2018)
Real Estate Fraud Resources: REFAT
General prevention/information sites:
FBI IC3 the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
FTC the Federal Trade Commission.
IAFCI the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators.
USSS the Secret Service US Currency information site – how to recognize counterfeit cash.
VCAAA the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging for Medicare fraud and older adult services & by phone (805)477-7300.
Smart Money the FDIC smart money programs.
3 Credit Bureaus:
Data Breach to enroll in the Equifax data breach program.
If you know that you have been victimized for Identity Theft crimes:
Identity Theft Steps the Federal Trade Commission’s comprehensive ID theft recovery kit.
California ID Theft Resource Center the State of California ID theft resource center.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to report complaints about your bank’s response to your problems.
Send an email to California DMV (email@example.com) if your CDL or ID card were fraudulently used.
If you have already made a Police Report with the Oxnard Police Department:
|Fraudulent use of your own existing account(s):||484g form||Complete the form. Attach color image of your photo ID and Social Security card. Attach copy of police report. Mail/fax/email to your bank/creditor.|
|Opening new fraudulent accounts using your Personal Identifying Information:||530-8 form||Complete the form. Attach color image of your photo ID and Social Security card. Attach copy of police report. Mail/fax/email to your bank/creditor.|
|Using your Social Security Number to work or receive benefits:
|F14039_IRSform||(Englsh) Complete the form. Attach color image of your photo ID and Social Security card. Attach copy of police report. Send the form to the IRS.|
|F14039_IRSform||(Spanish) Complete the form. Attach color image of your photo ID and Social Security card. Attach copy of police report. Send the form to the IRS.|
|CA FTB form||Complete the form. Attach color image of your photo ID and Social Security card. Attach copy of police report. Send the form to the CA FTB.|
|Printable Resource Sheets – Identity Theft||(Patrol) Fraud Info Handout To Public 2017||English|
|Printable Resource Sheets – Identity Theft||(Patrol) Fraud Info Handout To Public (SP) 2017||Spanish|
|Printable Resource Sheets – Scams||Scam Prevention Handout to Public||English|
Email questions and supporting documents – MUST include your Report Number to Detective Erica.Escalante@OxnardPD.org.
If your Social Security Number has been used to work or claim benefits:
(There is no need to report to local authorities unless you need a report for tax deduction, insurance, or banking purposes for documentation only.)
SSA “my account” to review your Social Security account and report identity theft.
CA Franchise Tax Board to report to the California Franchise Tax Board.
EDD to report to the California Employment Development Department.
Resources for Businesses:
FTC Small Business Resources (new on 10-19-18)
Scam Prevention for Small Businesses (new 10-31-18)
Cal ORCA the California Organized Retail Crimes Association.
Smart Money the FDIC smart money program for small businesses.
Report Non-Sufficient Fund (NSF) Checks to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office: Report Forms.
FBI article on data breach requirements (February 21, 2018) How to report data breach to FBI & IRS.
EMPOWER YOURSELF AGAINST UTILITY SCAMS (new 9-18-18)
September 17, 2018
You get a call saying your electricity or water will be shut off unless you pay a past due bill. You may not think you have a past due bill. But the caller sounds convincing, and you can’t afford to ignore it, especially if you’re running a small business.
Actually, you can’t afford to believe it.
The FTC has been hearing about scammers impersonating utility companies in an effort to get your money. Here are some warning signs of a utility scam:
- If you know you already paid, stop. Even if the caller insists you have a past due bill. That’s a big red flag.
- Never give out your banking information by email or phone.Utility companies don’t demand banking information by email or phone. And they won’t force you to pay by phone as your onlyoption.
- Did the caller demand payment by gift card, cash reload card, wiring money or cryptocurrency? Don’t do it. Legitimate companies don’t demand one specific method of payment. And they don’t generally accept gift cards (like iTunes or Amazon), cash reload cards (like MoneyPak, Vanilla, or Reloadit), or cryptocurrency (like bitcoin).
If you get a call like this, here are some things you can do:
- Concerned that your bill is past due? Contact the utility company directly using the number on your paper bill or on the company’s website. Don’t call any number the caller gave you.
- Never give banking information over the phone unless you place the call to a number you know is legitimate.
- Tell the FTC. Your reports help us fight these scams. And report it to the real utility company. If you already paid, tell the payment provider – such as the wire transfer or gift card company. You may not get your money back, but it’s important to tell them about the scam.
Additional Educational Resources:
FTC Alerts to receive email alerts of current scam trends. Example below:
Anatomy of a Fake Check Scam (NEW!)
Fake checks drive many types of scams – like those involving phony prize wins, fake jobs, mystery shoppers, online classified ad sales, and others. In a fake check scam, a person you don’t know asks you to deposit a check – sometimes for several thousand dollars and usually for more than what you are owed – and wire some of the money back to that person. The scammers always have a good story to explain the overpayment – they’re stuck out of the country, they need you to cover taxes or fees, you need to buy supplies, or something else. But by the time your bank discovers you’ve deposited a bad check, the scammer already has the money you sent, and you’re stuck paying the rest of the check back to the bank.
The Federal Trade Commission receives tens of thousands of reports each year about fake checks. Over the last three years, the number of complaints has steadily increased, and so have the dollars lost.
The FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation, offers some tip-offs to rip-offs and what to do if you get a check from someone you don’t know.
Please share this information with others. Victims may be embarrassed to talk about their experiences, but you can help. A simple phone call, email or text, saying “Look what I just found” and sharing this information may make a difference in someone else’s life.
Want to avoid the latest rip-offs? Sign up for free consumer alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/subscribe.
2017 FBI scam statistics IC3 Says Victim Losses Exceeded $1.4 Billion in 2017.
Sweepstakes Scam article (June 5, 2018) by the Better Business Bureau.
Legal Basics- Protecting Yourself Against Scams 2018 FTC resource guide.
Protecting Yourself Against Scams Presentation 2018 FTC PowerPoint presentation.
Protect Elders from Financial Abuse (February 1, 2018) AARP article describing several elder financial abuse scenarios.