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Consumer Safety

Click here to visit The Federal Trade Commission website for Consumer Protection

Telemarketing Safety

Many legitimate companies use the telephone to solicit business, and telemarketing has become a widely used and sophisticated sales tool. Unfortunately, swindlers also use this successful marketing technique. Some con artists operate “boiler rooms” full of telephone salespeople who contact businesses with fraudulent offers for goods and services. These swindlers use prepared scripts and high-pressure tactics to sell a wide variety of worthless or overvalued goods and services, such as:

  • Advertising space in business directories which do not exist.
  • Bargain” vacation packages or trips that are never provided.
  • Inferior office supplies, such as copy machine paper and toner.
  • Advertising specialty items, such as pens and key chains, that turn out to be totally different from what you’re told you’ll get.
  • If you agree to purchase, you will frequently be asked for your credit card number. Often, you will receive an invoice in the mail. When you pay, you are branded a “mooch,” and this almost guarantees you will receive additional telephone pitches.
  • You can protect your company by following a few simple rules:
  • Don’t buy from new suppliers without verifying their existence and reliability, particularly when contacted by telephone.
  • Don’t pay for advertising space in a business directory or other publication which is unknown to you. Be especially wary if the phone solicitor refuses to give you information about the publication and its advertisers, which you can verify.
  • Be wary of exaggerated claims for services, products, or prices. Con artists use come-ons such as “free gift”, “customer in your area went out of business” and “don’t worry about overdue notice.”
  • Don’t give out any information about your office machines over the phone unless you know who you’re talking to. Otherwise, you’ll be targeted to buy inferior quality supplies for your machines.
  • Ask for samples of advertising specialty items before you buy.
  • Never give your credit card number (or even just its expiration date) over the phone to a caller you are not familiar with and have not dealt with satisfactorily before.
  • Establish effective internal controls, channel all bills and invoices through one department, and verify all billing authorizations.
  • Don’t pay until an invoice is verified against goods or services actually ordered and received.

If you have been bilked by a boiler room scheme where the U.S. Mail system was used, or if you know about a scheme which should be investigated, inform your local postmaster or the nearest postal inspector.

Internet Safety & Identity Theft

Since the Internet first became available to the general public, there have been those who would use it for criminal purposes. As the Internet is used by more and more people with each passing day, so too are more people finding even more ways to give the Internet a bad name.

The term Internet safety encompasses quite a broad range of topics. The main ones range from the merely annoying and sometimes costly viruses, spyware, and spam to identity theft and personal information safety, scams and fraud, hackers, child pornography, and the sexual predator, who threaten not only adults but our children as well.

As the various branches of internet safety are so numerous, and there are nearly an infinite number of websites devoted to each of them, the concentration here will be on internet safety for our children.

The amount of information on the Internet is virtually boundless, and the subjects covered, vast. Since the Internet is not formally censored, there are topics available that are inappropriate for children. These can range from hate and bigotry, to adult material, child pornography, misinformation, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, hacking information, and the list goes on and on. Some of this material is appropriate only for adults, and some isn’t appropriate for anyone. And then, of course, there are the predators. Unfortunately, there are people, both men and women, who prey on children online and offline. These people are pedophiles.

Until the advent of the Internet, pedophiles were essentially loners. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet has emboldened many pedophiles. They have formed very active groups online, feeling less threatened because they do not meet face-to-face, and can hide behind their computer monitor. These groups often educate pedophiles about how to lure children into face-to-face meetings. They share tips that have proven successful, and share arguments that can be used to get past the child’s “stranger danger” defenses. They teach each other about recent popular topics and products which can be used to lure children into face-to-face meetings.

Although some of these sites may be illegal, many are not. Speech is highly protected in the United States, and many of these sites fall into the area of protected speech. Just because they are legal, however, doesn’t mean that our children should be exposed to them.

But even the most dangerous online predator hasn’t yet mastered the technology to allow them to reach through the monitor and grab your children. Your child may be emotionally wounded by an online predator, but they are truly endangered if the predator tries to reach your child offline as well. But they can’t do that unless your child shares information that would allow the predator to find your child, or unless your child affirmatively wants to meet that person.

As a parent, educator or caretaker, you need to guard against that happening. Your child should be carefully taught not to share personal information online, whether on a profile or in a chat room. You have to teach them what information is personal. You may want to encourage them to use fun online aliases, rather than their own names. You may want to use filtering software which prevents them from sharing personal information with others online.

You child should not be allowed to surf alone in their room. It should be a family activity, in a central location. This will make it harder for the predator to get your child alone long enough to lure them into an offline meeting. Teach them never to meet anyone they met online, offline. Teach them that people online may not be whom they seem to be or whom they say they are.

If you, as a parent or guardian, are concerned that a child may have been contacted by a sexual predator, either on-line or off-line, please do not hesitate to contact your local law enforcement agency and provide them with any and all information you may have.

By parents providing the proper education and supervision, along with the help of educators and law enforcement, our children can be kept safe in a world which can often be dangerous to the young and naive.

What is identity theft?

Indiana Code 35-43-5-3.5 defines IDENTITY DECEPTION as follows;

A person who knowingly or intentionally obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses the identifying information of another person without the other person’s consent, and with the intent to:

  • harm or defraud another person
  • assume another person’s identity
  • profess to be another person
  • commits IDENTITY DECEPTION a Class D Felony.

How your identifying information is obtained?

  • They can steal records from businesses or bribe employees of businesses to give them information.
  • They can steal your mail such as bank and credit card statements.
  • They can sift through your trash to locate your identifying information or account numbers.
  • They can pose as a landlord or employer and access your credit report.
  • They may steal your wallet or your purse.
  • They may burglarize your residence and use information that they find.

How your identifying information is used?

  • They can call your credit card company and have the mailing address changed. This allows them a longer period of time to “max” out your account before you realize it has occurred.
  • They can open new credit card accounts in your name.
  • They may open new bank accounts in your name and write bad checks.
  • They may counterfeit your current checks and drain your account.
  • They may obtain car loans in your name.
  • They could give police your identifying information if they are arrested. Not show up for the court date causing a warrant be issued for your arrest.
  • They could even obtain a driver’s license or passport with your identifying information and their photo.

What to do if you become a victim?

  1. File a report with the Greensburg Police Department. You can file a report 24 hours day by calling (812) 663-3131.
  2. Contact your credit card companies and banks to inform them of the incident and to close affected accounts.
  3. Contact any of the three consumer reporting companies and place a fraud alert on your credit report. The company you call is required by law to contact the other two companies and advise them to also place an alert on your report. The 3 consumer reporting companies are listed to the right.
  4. If several accounts have been affected file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. The commission can provide you with an ID Theft Affidavit. You can complete this form and provide it to the companies where fraudulent accounts have been opened. This will be helpful in disputing the accounts.
  5. Keep organized records in regards to your case. Write down the name of everyone you speak with, what they tell you, and the date of the conversation. Follow up in writing with all contacts you make on the phone or in person. Use certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when. Keep copies of all correspondence or forms you send.

How to prevent Identity Theft?

  • Place passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using mother’s maiden name, your date of birth, your last four digits of your SSN or phone number, or any series of consecutive numbers.
  • Secure personal information in your home in a lock box or safe.
  • Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the internet unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in the a post office collection box or at the post office instead of in an unsecured mailbox.
  • Install a mailbox that has a lock at your residence.
  • If going on vacation or are planning on being away for an extended period of time, call the United States Postal Service at (800) 275-8777 for a vacation hold.
  • Tear or shred any documents that have identifying information on them prior to throwing in the trash.
  • Opt-out of receiving unsolicited credit card offers in the mail by calling (888) 567-8688.
  • Do not carry anyone’s SSN. Keep them in a secure place.
  • When ordering new checks, pick them up, instead of having them mailed.
  • Before you dispose of a computer, delete all personal information.
  • Obtain free credit reports each year from all three consumer reporting companies. These can be obtained by contacting the Annual Credit Report Service. This information is listed to the right.
  • It is suggested that you obtain a report every four months rotating through the companies.

Investigation of your case.

If you have filed a report with the Greensburg Police Department your case will be reviewed and most likely assigned to a detective to investigate. The detective will make every attempt to determine who is responsible of committing the crimes, however we are unable to solve every case. If a detective has been assigned your case they will usually make contact with you within forty eight hours of being assigned the case. They will guide you in the steps you will need to take to repair your credit and will be glad to answer any questions you might have.