I would like to take this opportunity to speak briefly on two subjects that are of importance in law enforcement during the winter months. First I would like to discuss how to prevent identity theft. Second I would like to speak about a topic that all Michigan residents and drivers are very aware of: winter driving. These are very different topics but both are important to discuss during this time of year.
During the holiday season and the months leading up to tax season, we tend to see an increase in identity theft complaints and fraud. Criminals are continually finding new ways to scam and defraud people. These frauds come in all different forms. It is important to be suspicious of anyone contacting you requesting money. There are many “scams” that surface every year attempting to defraud unsuspecting innocent people. One of the most important things to remember is that a business or collection agency is not going to request to be paid in prepaid cards of any kind, bitcoins, money gram, Western Union, or any other type of prepaid service. Never provide any personal information to someone attempting to collect money from you. If you do not know the subject who is asking for money then do some of your own investigation prior to sending money to anyone. Do your own research on the company to find contact information other than what is provided in the email. Contact the company directly and you may be able to save yourself a lot of time and money.
Identity theft is a large problem from February through April and we take a large amount of these types of complaints. Many of these complaints are people reporting that someone has filed a tax return in their name. While it is not possible to prevent fraud, there are steps that can be taken to protect your identity including monitoring or freezing your credit. I would encourage anyone looking to protect their identity to go to the Federal Trade Commission website and simply search identity theft. This website has a great deal of information regarding repairing identity theft and preventing future identity theft.
As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive any type of suspicious correspondence and do not know how to move forward, please contact local law enforcement, ask a family member, or friend. Once a person has been the victim of these types of crimes it is nearly impossible to recover their money so take the extra time to protect yourself.
On a side note, it’s that time of year for ice and snow. Any Michigan resident is well aware of the ever-changing weather (just wait 5 minutes and it will change). Please remember to reduce your speed, and leave extra distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you during ice and snow events. This is also a great time of year to do a quick vehicle inspection and make sure that you have adequate tire tread depth. Please take the extra time in the morning to clear your vehicle windows of ice and snow. You can actually get a ticket if you don’t, and it may prevent an accident.
Please do not hesitate to contact myself or the other Delhi Division Sheriff ’s Office deputies with questions or concerns. 2045 N Cedar Street, 517.694.0045.