Beware of Scammers
Please be advised of a scam that is taking place in our area. It has been reported that residents have been receiving phone calls by individuals identifying themselves as members of the Erie County Sheriffs’ Office. The caller implies that money is due or a warrant will be issued.
Citizens should know that the Erie County Sheriff’s Office does not solicit over the phone for the collection of fines. If you receive such a call, do not divulge any personal information, including date of birth, Social Security number or bank account number. Please contact our office if you receive such a call.
Scammers also have been known to call and identify themselves as calling from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, saying there are warrants for you for not reporting for federal jury duty. The caller then gives instructions how you can make a payment to avoid arrest.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office will never contact you for any reason to collect money. Please report any such calls to the Sheriff’s Office.
While phishing scams come in many different forms, the defense is the same: Do not provide personal information. With suspicious emails, do not click on any links or open any attachments.
- Tax rebates: Email phishing scams offer tax rebates to those who prove credit card information.
- One-ring calls: The scammer calls a cell phone and lets it ring once before hanging up. When the person calls back, they are actually calling an international number and will face expensive international phone fees.
- Netflix phishing scam: This is initiated by a pop-up that appears when a user is trying to log in to Netflix. It tries to trick users into thinking there is a problem with their account or that their account has been hacked.
- Phone and utility phishing scam: This scam is disguised as a utility bill. The email message provides a link to view your bill, but clicking the link will instead prompt the download of malware, which will infect your computer. Malware is software used to disrupt computer operation and gather sensitive information.
Protect Your Home from Theft
Scambusters offers advice to citizens to help them avoid becoming the victim of theft.
Luring You Away
Thieves use many tricks to lure you away from your home. Here are just a few:
- Claiming to be a utility employee or contractor who wants to show you an area outside where he’s about to start work.
- Posing as a neighbor or passer-by who just spotted a problem on your roof or the exterior of the building that they want to point out to you.
- Pretending to be the owner of a lost pet who asks you to come and help them search nearby for it.
Crooks also may disconnect power lines, send out phony invitations to events or even advertise opportunities on social media or online classified ad sites (such as events or jobs) that will get you away from home.
Obviously, you should be on your guard for these ruses and avoid leaving the home unguarded if at all possible. If you do have to leave the house, even for a few minutes, lock all doors, close all windows and, if it’s dark, switch on some lights.
Checking if Anyone’s Home
Of course, even if a crook lures you away from your home, he or she can’t be sure someone else isn’t inside. If they’re just scoping out potential burglary targets, they want to know if a house is occupied or if the owners are out or away. So, it’s important not to give the game away by leaving signs your home is unoccupied. Here are some ways you can conceal your absence and avoid alerting crooks:
- Don’t leave address details in your car, especially if it’s in a long-term parking lot. This applies not just to documents but even to a GPS, if you have one. Don’t enter your home address on it.
- When you’re going to be out for a short while, leave or switch the radio on, preferably on a talk station.
- Keep your garage door closed and garage windows covered so burglars can’t check for vehicles.
- Beware of solicitors, whether at your door or on the phone, wanting to fix a future appointment, especially if they ask when you’re going to be at home.
- Don’t leave voicemail messages that say you’re away, or when you’ll be back. Messages should be neutral, simply asking callers: “Please leave a message after the beep.”
If you’re going on vacation or will be away for more than a few days:
- Don’t discuss travel plans on social networking sites.
- Arrange for your lawn to be mowed and front yard to be kept generally tidy if you’re going to be away more than a week.
- If you live in a snowy area, get a neighbor to drive on and off your driveway when there’s snow on the ground, so tracks are visible to a would-be burglar.
- Ask a neighbor to clear any litter they see around your home. Crooks have been known to drop trash on driveways and doorsteps and then check to see if it has been cleared.
- Beware of publishing home address details in funeral or memorial service notices. They signal when you’ll be out.
Texting and Driving
How are you talking to your high schooler about the dangers of texting and driving? Watch an informative video about texting and driving.
Holiday Season Safety
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office offers the following advice for the holiday season.
- Keep live Christmas trees watered and away from heat sources, such as fireplaces and heaters.
- Do not overload electrical circuits.
- Put decorative lights on a timer, or turn them off when not in use.
- Keep candles 12 inches from anything that will burn.
- Remember that misteltoe, holly and Jerusalem cherry are poisonous, so keep them away from children and pets.
- Park in well-lit areas.
- Avoid parking next to vehicles with dark-tinted windows.
- Have your keys in your hand before going to your car.
- Keep a secure hold on purses and packages.
- Be aware of your surroundings and of any suspicious people in the area.
- Do not leave packages in plain view in your vehicle.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- If possible, carry any case in your front pocket.
- Avoid shopping alone.
Victim Notification Program
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is committed to protecting the public and ensuring that the rights of victims are carefully observed. HSI administers the Victim Notification Program, which allows eligible victims and witnesses to obtain reliable and timely information regarding a criminal alien’s release from custody. However, victims and witnesses are required to register with the agency in order to receive notification of a criminal alien’s release. The Victim Notification Program’s online resource provides information about ICE’s services for victims or witnesses.