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         Fraud Circular         

Its About Protection from Scams and Frauds
Some of the most common scams involve home repairs, clean-up efforts, heating and cooling equipment, charities, donating money, bank transfers, telephone, and damage or repairs to automobiles. This type of scam artist usually prey on the elderly, single or widowed women living alone.

Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and any specific filing requirements that the company may have.
Although you may be anxious to get things repaired and back to normal, avoid acting in haste. Don't be pressured into signing long-term contracts. Make temporary repairs if necessary.

Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim your home or automobile is unsafe. If concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or a building official from East Orange Property Maintenance inspect it.

This is also the time of year when scam artists go into the "home improvement" business. Often a pickup truck will stop at the house of an elderly person and tell them that they were working in the area and noticed that the victim's driveway needed repair. Since they are in the area anyway they are willing to give the victim a "great deal" on resurfacing the driveway. When the victim agrees the scam artists will quickly brush on some coal tar on top of the driveway, which will make it look fresh for a few days or until, it rains. For this "repair" with $50.00 worth of materials the scam artist will charge hundreds or thousands of dollars and quickly disappear before the victim becomes aware they have been ripped off. A variation of this scam is that these same people will "repair" roofs by resurfacing them with a cheap sealer and charging outrageous prices for this worthless "fix."

Remember - be suspicious of any deal that is "For Today Only", pressure tactics, a "Special Price" if you sign right away, or large cash deposits are required in advance. You should always get at least two bids for a repair job. Ask for and check out references of prior work.

Don't be Conned
If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Watch for these schemes:

The Pigeon Drop - the swindlers claim they have found a large sum of money and offer to share it with you. They ask you to put up some "good faith" money before you get in on the deal. That is the last you will see of your money. You are left with nothing but phony instructions on how to collect your share of the "found" cash.

The Bank Examiner - a professional-looking person tells you he is a bank official and needs your help in the investigation of a dishonest teller. He asks you to withdraw cash from your savings account and give the money to him so he can check the serial numbers. You do what he asks, and you never see him or your money again.

Home Repairs - never accept an unsolicited "free" inspection of your furnace, roof, air conditioner, or anything.

Prepare a written agreement with anyone you hire. Never pay for repairs in advance and never pay cash; use a check or money order! If possible, don't allow these strangers to enter your home without anyone present. Never give strangers the keys to your home or automobile, they can be easily duplicated.
Always get several estimates for any repair job. Be sure to compare prices and contract terms.

Ask for references AND check them out

The Three Elements A Criminal Must Possess For A Crime To Occur

What is Crime Prevention? By definition, Crime Prevention is "Being aware that a crime can occur, anticipating its form, location, time and victim, and taking action to reduce the chances of its happening."

There are three elements the criminal must possess for a crime to occur: Desire, Ability, and Opportunity. Think of them as a triangle. Eliminate just one of the elements, and no crime will take place, the triangle cannot be completed. You have no control over the first two elements. Whether the criminal has the desire or ability to commit the crime is solely up to them. However, you can have great control, if not eliminate, the third element - opportunity.

Crime prevention is using instinct, common sense, and action to eliminate or greatly reduce the criminal's opportunity. A large share of the responsibility of reducing criminal opportunity lies with YOU! That is not to say that if you are a victim of crime it is your entire fault and not the fault of the criminal...certainly not! But the fact remains that WE all have a personal part to play regarding crime prevention.

How to practice Crime Prevention. Educate yourself on prevention techniques. Mark your personal property and maintain personal security. Get to know your police. Memorize the phone number, know the location of the police station, get to know and support your local police officers.

Report any crime or suspicion of crime at once. You can't assume that someone else has already reported it. Stay informed by following the news and keeping up-to-date on local crime problems. Work with others, like Block Watch and Business Watch. Support the whole legal process and help stamp out the cause of crime. And most of all is a good role model and obey the laws yourself. Set a good example for others - especially your children. Remember, you are the key to winning the war against crime!

Support Your Local Senior Crime Prevention

The purpose of this circular is to standardize senior crime prevention information on techniques to help seniors live their lives with a greater degree of safety and security.

Three general rules to promote senior crime prevention are:

1.) STAY ALERT! Be tuned-in to your surroundings; don't be taken by surprise. Be aware and prepared,
     even in your own neighborhood.
2.) STAND TALL! Walk confidently, don't show fear, and don't look like a victim.
3.) TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! If you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, leave right away and get
     help if necessary.

These rules will help you develop a "crime prevention" attitude. Also, the following are some specific crime prevention tips that may apply in your lives. These crime prevention tips are meant to protect you, your possessions and your income.

At Home
1.) Never open the door to strangers; always insist on proper identification.
2.) If someone comes to your door with an emergency (for example, a traffic accident or an injury),
     DON'T LET HIM OR HER IN! Call 9-1-1 for them!

Secure Your Home
1.) Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Always keep your doors locked. Have a peephole in the
     door so you can see a caller without opening it.
2.) Don't rely on security chains; a determined assailant can easily break them.
3.) Protect windows and other points of entry with good locks or other security devices (such as a
     length of wooden doweling placed in a track to prevent a window or sliding glass door from opening).
     Mark and record your personal property.
4.) When you go out, make your home sound and appear occupied by using an automatic timer to turn
     on interior lights and a radio. Keep the outside premises well lit at night.
5.) Do not leave your key under the mat or in a flowerpot. Use outdoor lighting, shrubbery and fencing to
     help secure your home.
6.) Consider electronic surveillance systems, alarm systems and/or a dog to enhance your home

If you believe you have been swindled, call the police, your State or local Consumer Affairs Office, the District Attorney's Office, or your State Attorney General. Con artists count on the reluctance of their victims to acknowledge they have been tricked. Don't delay, report them right away. If you never report the incident, con artists will cheat again and again.

In Your Car
1.) Know where you are going and how to get there;
2.) Maintain your vehicle in good working order, with ample gasoline;
3.) Plan your trip and take friends along;
4.) When possible, travel during daylight hours;
5.) Don't enter dark parking lots or deserted garages;
6.) Leave only your ignition key with parking attendant;
7.) Let someone know where you are going and your planned return time;
8.) When driving, lock your doors and windows; lockup when you leave;
9.) If you suspect someone is following you, drive to the nearest public place

Using Automated Teller Machines (ATM)
1.) Go inside your bank when possible;
2.) Go during daylight hours;
3.) Choose a busy ATM location;
4.) Take a friend with you;
5.) Preplan your transaction;
6.) Put your money away quickly;
7.) Don't flash your cash;
8.) If someone offers to let you go ahead of him or her at the ATM machine, decline and leave;
9.) If someone approaches your car at the drive through ATM, roll up your window and leave;
10.) If you begin to feel uncomfortable during a transaction, press CANCEL, get your card, and leave;
11.) If possible, arrange for incoming checks to be deposited directly into your bank account.

If You Are a Victim of a Crime
1.) Don't resist;
2.) Never pursue your attacker;
3.) Call the police. Dial 9-1-1 in case of an emergency; and
4.) REPORT CRIME! You may have money returned and prevent further theft from yourself and others!

Protect Your Income
1.) Be sure the person who handles your money can be trusted;
2.) Take the greatest care when signing any loan contracts;
3.) Understand completely what you are getting into; and
4.) If you are not totally confident in the transaction, DON'T SIGN ANYTHING! Wait and talk it over with
     someone you trust.

Fraud and Con-Games
If you are offered a deal that sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Most people think they could not be tricked, fooled or conned into handing over money for fraudulent deals. But it happens often. Con artists are experts in human psychology and behavior.

They know how to gain your confidence with smooth talk and a self-assured manner. High-pressure sales are another ploy used by con artists. You can't recognize a con artist by the way someone looks or dresses, but you can be on the alert for con artists and consumer frauds.

Telemarketing is a common method of stealing from senior citizens. Telephone fraud con artists spend a lot of time "polishing" their lines for enticing seniors to buy. Here are some tips that can alert you to Telemarketing scams:

1.) You must act now!
2.) You've won a "free" gift or vacation.
3.) Pay only postage and handling.
4.) You must send money, give a credit card number, a bank account number or have a check picked
     up by a carrier before you have a chance to carefully consider the offer.
5.) You don't need to research their company with anyone, including a lawyer, accountant, Better
     Business Bureau or other consumer protection agency.
6.) You don't need written information about their company or references.
7.) You can't afford to miss this "high profit, no risk" offer.

REMEMBER! The most successful con games are old schemes with new twists. There are many schemes and variations to the same scheme. If you hear these or similar lines, investigate further.
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