As we prepare for the December holidays and dive into the season of giving, it’s important not to get so busy that we forget to practice basic crime prevention.
Remember, scammers are one group of people who won’t be taking the holidays off: They’ll continue to exploit the hustle and bustle and steal your joy and your hard-earned money, whether in person or online.
Stay Smart, Stay Safe In Crowded
Parking Lots, Shopping Areas:
• Always be aware of your surroundings, especially who is parked near your vehicle. Park elsewhere if something or someone seems suspicious.
• Take someone with you to shop— there’s strength in numbers and you will feel less vulnerable.
• Park in a lighted area if possible, close to where people are walking, and will see suspicious activity.
• Always lock your vehicle, every time; take your keys and remove all valuables from sight.
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I’d like to remind everyone about being vigilant to avoid scams while you’re spending more time online. Whether you’re talking with family on Facebook, FaceTime, or Zoom, or shopping online for gifts for your loved ones, keep in mind that for all the amazing benefits of the Internet, remember the risks, too.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody offers a plethora of information to help. She recently released an updated consumer guide geared toward holiday shopping, ways to avoid charity fraud or gift card scams and more. Go to: https://www.myfloridalegal. com/newsreleases
To avoid falling victim to common cyber scams, follow these tips:
• Never open attachments in an e-mail message that comes from an unknown source.
• Don’t click on links in any solicitation.
• Mark any suspicious messages as spam.
• Keep your security software installed and up to date.
These days, criminals have escalated their tactics by calling, texting, or e-mailing people online—anything to see whom they can entice to fall victim to fraud:
• Never give your personal information or computer access to anyone who calls, e-mails, or texts you that you don’t know. Banks, government, and law enforcement officials and medical facilities won’t call seeking your personal information, or demand you pay them money.
• Scam artists will, and they’re looking for trusting individuals who might not question their motives. Usually, they want you to go purchase gift cards or bitcoin to pay them – that’s a sure sign of a scam, but it’s not the only sign.
• Sadly, bad guys and gals also use fake charities and other harmless-sounding tricks to target seniors over the holidays. They’ll even call you claiming a family member is in jail and needs you to bail them out—known as the Grandparents Scam. You may receive one of these calls, texts, or voicemails. They’ll send out thousands just to find one person who makes the mistake of trusting them. And loses thousands of dollars needlessly. Don’t fall for this.
If you believe you have become the victim of a fraud, go online to www.MyFlorida Legal.com or call 866.966.7226 to file a complaint.
The good news is we’re here for you, and the resources above will help you avoid the trouble that can turn any day into a headache.
Thanks to all who have donated toys to the Volusia Sheriff’s Youth Foundation holiday toy programs. There’s still time to bring a toy to the Jeep Beach Toy Shop at One Daytona, across from the Speedway on International Speedway Blvd., until Sunday, December 10. Or, bring a toy to the Southern
Justice/Tailgatorz, 3411 S. Ridgewood Ave., Edgewater, December 16 at 4 p.m.
Here’s wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season,
Sheriff Michael Chitwood