The Pinellas Police Standards Council reminds residents to be mindful of "crimes of opportunity" during the holiday season.
The members of the Pinellas Police Standards Council would like to remind Pinellas County residents to be mindful of internet scams and the increase of “crimes of opportunity” during the Holiday Season. Fraudulent solicitations and scams can affect many unsuspecting and trusting people. To help protect you and your loved ones from these types of crimes, we offer the following suggestions and information:
- Keep your vehicles locked and secure, even in your driveway. Remember that a garage door opener is a burglar’s key. Do not leave valuables in the vehicle, such as laptop computers, iPods, portable navigation systems, money, vehicle titles or any other documents which have personal information on them. Never leave firearms unattended in motor vehicles. While shopping during the Holiday Season, park your vehicles in well-lit areas and keep valuables and shopping bags out of site and locked in the trunk. Leave the parking lot as soon as practical to avoid being confronted by person(s) watching the lot.
- If you receive phone calls, postal mail, packages or e-mails from sweepstakes or lotteries in which you are asked to send any amount of money, please do not reply. Legitimate sweepstakes and games of chance do not require the winner to post an earnest or good faith deposit as a processing fee before they process your prize. REMEMBER, IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS! To prevent receiving malicious software (that which will ruin your computer or allow others to have access to your computer files), do not open any e-mail from unfamiliar senders. If they truly know you, they will know how to contact you. Generally, most City and County ordinances prohibit door-to-door solicitation and peddling of services or goods unless authorized. Exceptions to these ordinances may include but are not limited to distribution of religious, charitable, civic or political matter. Ask questions and confirm the validity and approval of these organizations before making any donations.
- If you are selling any items or services on the internet through such websites as E-Bay or Craigslist, we recommend that you verify funds or use secure processing services prior to completing any transactions. A popular scam involves sending over payment with a fraudulent check or setting up a fraudulent wire transfer, and requesting that you send over payment in the form of a cashier’s check or a money order. Legitimate buyers will not send over payment for an item and offer you a fee for your “inconvenience”. REMEMBER, IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS! Additionally, scammers will suggest Western Union for payment processing. We recommend that you not use wire transfer services for these types of transactions as they may not be secure or traceable by Law Enforcement. We strongly urge you to meet in a well-lit and open public location. NEVER meet perspective buyers at your home.
- Keep your residence secure at all times. If you are travelling out of the area for the Holidays or for an extended period, we recommend contacting your local police department or the department with jurisdiction to sign up for any available House Watch Program. Many departments post information on their websites regarding this service. Recall that discarded boxes left outside for trash pick-up announce the content of your home. Either cover or turn inside out any boxes that contained valued merchandise, especially expensive electronics.
The members of the Pinellas Police Standards Council wish to extend best wishes for a safe and enjoyable Holiday Season!