Preventing Theft And Fraud In Bad Economic Times

Stop Scammers Amid an Abundance of Opportunity

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent shut-downs in California and around the world have greatly impacted the economy. It’s anyone’s guess what our world will look like in the coming months.

What we know right now is while the equipment rental and construction industries have been less affected by the mandated stay-at-home orders than most other industries, the sheer volume of businesses and individuals feeling the economic punch this pandemic has delivered makes it vital to raise awareness of the unavoidable inundation of a variety of scams. Theft and fraud skyrocket when the economy goes south.

Be informed, gain control

With so much out of our control, it’s more important than ever to arm ourselves with knowledge to avoid being victims at the hands of those intent on capitalizing on the misfortune of others. As author Alyxandra Harvey once wrote, “If we act like prey, they’ll act like predators.”

Crooks capitalize on the misfortune of those who’ve been hit with even the smallest hardship. The COVID-19 pandemic is not only affecting our neighborhoods, counties and state, but also millions of people worldwide. It’s safe to bet that we can expect a response from the criminal world ready to take advantage. A recent blog by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, “A Global Pandemic is a Global Goldmine for Criminal Scammers,” offers a sobering glimpse at the anticipated rise in fraud in the coming months and highlights a spike in all types of scams.

Here are a few ideas and resources to empower you so you can protect yourself, your company and loved ones from falling victim:

  • Don’t respond to texts, emails or calls about relief checks
  • Hang up on robo-calls
  • Never give out personal information over the phone or via email
  • Do not click on links in a text or email that isn’t from someone you know and trust
  • Stay updated and informed about resources that are available through sources you trust; information is changing almost daily
  • Visit sites like the Federal Trade Commission to stay up to date on most recent scam and fraud trends
  • Get information about available tests, products, vaccines, relief payments or general information – ONLY when it comes from a trusted source, like your local government, the World Health Organization or the CDC
  • Share your proven findings with family, friends and neighbors – especially those at higher risk of falling victim, like the elderly, and encourage open and on-going dialogue – even if it is from a minimum of 6 feet apart
  • Never donate by cash, gift card or wiring money – do your homework before making donations
  • Verify, verify, verify – via a trusted source – before doing business of any kind with a new person

What to do if something happens

If, despite precautions, you’re the victim of theft or fraud, report it to local law enforcement. Have as much information as possible on hand, have it readily available and easy to share. Avoid getting too far off track with information that is irrelevant to the crime itself.

When you’ve suffered a loss at the hands of a fraudster, having as much information as possible is helpful when reporting the crime. This includes:

  • Video or photos of subject(s)
  • Vehicle information
  • Phone number used
  • ID
  • Paperwork
  • Security footage

Be sure to write down everything you (and anyone else involved) can recall about the criminal(s)and details surrounding the crime itself while it’s fresh in your mind. Don’t rely on your memory as it often takes months before overwhelmed detectives are able to investigate your case and even longer before it would go to court. And keep in mind: no detail is too small. It just might be the key to identifying the criminal(s).

Together, we can make a difference

While these times are unprecedented and difficult, let’s do all we can to embrace this moment in history and focus not on our differences and the perceived shortcomings of others, but instead on how we can work together on a larger scale to adjust to our “new normal” and once again pursue our shared quest to flourish. It is only through supporting others and finding our common ground that we take a stand against those so eager to victimize us during tough times and prove that: “Together, We CAN Make a Difference”.

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