Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waunakee Police Department - December Newsletter

Winder Ordinance Reminders:

Alternate Side Parking- Alternate side parking is in effect from the hours of 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.  During these times vehicles should be parked on the even numbered side of the street on even numbered days and on the odd numbered side of the street on teh odd numbered days. 

Citations not paid within 10 days of issuance result in higher fines.  Citations not paid within 28 days of issuance will result in vehicle registration being suspended. 

Snow and Ice Removeal- According to ordinance 82-281, snow and ice must be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours from the time the snow or ice ceases to accumulate on the sidewalk.  It is also illegal to deposit any snow or ice onto any public street, alley, public or priveate sidewalk.  Persons responsible for doing so may be cited. 

Snowmobiles- Snowmobiles are only allowed to be operated on designated trails or private property with the owners consent while in the village limits.  If the snowmobile is being operated on private property and not on a designated trail, the snowmobile cannot be operated between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.  The speed limit is 15 mph throughout the village.


AAA has created a comprehensive teen driving website- www.teendriving.aaa.com - which is gaining in popularity.  It speaks to both parents and drivers.  You may want to check it out as a resource.  It is specific to Wisconsin in terms of teen driving rules but also has a number of safety strategies.

Better Business Bureau announces Top 10 Scams:

Attempted scams continue to be reported to the Waunakee Police Department.  During the month of November 2011 we received 5 reports of attempted scams or fraud.  They included:

  1. A gift card/rebate scam
  2. A family or friend in trouble in a foreign country needing financial assistance
  3. A text message advising a frozen bank account asking you to text back or enter the bank account number to release the account
  4. $10,000 grant where you only have to pay a commission fee to get the money
  5. International lottery winnings
Thankfully none of our citizens responded and no one was out any money.  Please continue to be alert and aware of anything that sounds to good to be true.  Also, educate any elderly family members or friends of the trending scams to keep them from being victimized as they are often targets of these scams.  

This year's Top Ten Scams looks at not only those scams that affected us in 2010, but what to watch out for in 2011, and beyond.  One of the biggest trends is in scam artists taking advantage of the public's eagerness to embrace new technologies and services, like social media and online commerce, which allows them to cast a new over countless victims from a safe distance. 

"Many people view their online personality as separate from their real-life one, and don't take the same precautions to protect their identities, their computers, or their money". Many people differentiate their online experience from their non-virtual environment, as a result are particularly vulnerable to scams.  Scam artists are savvy to consumers who click first and ask questions later. 

Here are the top ten scams of 2010 and 2011 from the Better Business Bureau:
  1. Door-to-Door Scams Every new season seems to attract a new door-to-door scammer offering unbelievable deals: roofing contractors in the spring/summer, paving contractors in the summer, and heating contractors in the fall.  These fraudulent contractors use high pressure sales tactics to frighten people into expensive yet substandard-often unnecessary-work, with no way to contact them when the product fails. Quick Tip: Don't give into high pressure sales tactics.  Take the time to do your due diligence, getting the name and location of the company and ensuring all details and verbal promises are included in a contract.  
  2. Not-so-Free Trial Offers Online ads may tempt you to try out a diet product, acne cream, or teeth whitener, but be careful about signing up for so-called "free trial" offers.  Many websites that offer a free trial for products do not disclose the billing terms and conditions on their website.  Before giving the company any credit or debit card information, review the website fully and be aware that free trials may result in repeated billing.  Quick Tip: Consumers considering trial offers are urged to determine whether they are enrolling in a membership, subscription, or service contract that allows the company to charge fees to credit cards.  Check with BBB to find a company reliability report at www.bbb.org.
  3. Anti-Social Network Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are becoming more and more popular.  Users are often subject to targeted advertising and direct messages, and scams of all colors use social networks to operate.  Fraudulent work-at-home job offers are sent through Tweets and Facebook messages, deceptive "free trials" are advertised, and "clickjacking" on Facebook convinces users to post malicious links on their status updates. Quick Tip: Your computer should always have the most recent updates installed for space filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a secure firewall.  Use the most up-to-date versions of your web browsers to offer further protection.  Be wary of messages from friends and especially strangers that direct you to another website via hyperlink.  
  4. Advance Fee Loans Consumers have reported losing substantial sums of money responding to advertisements that "guarantee" loans to people, often online.  Consumers complete credit applications and are told the loan (from $5,000 to $10,000) has been approved and the promised funds will be received once a fee is paid.  After payment, the loan is never received as promised.   Quick Tip: It is illegal for a company to change a fee in advance to obtain a loan, even if that fee is disguised as the first or last month's payment.  Watch for claims of "guaranteed" loans even if you have bad credit, not credit, or a bankruptcy, and demands that you wire or send money before you can have a loan offer confirmed in writing.  
  5. Phising, Vishing, and Smishing Identity thieves are always looking for new ways to strike, and taking advantage of new technologies is a boon for scamming unsuspecting users.  "Phising" scams send emails that look legitimates, requesting your "account information needs to be updated."  Recipients are sent to a phony, but legitimate, looking website and prompted to enter their information details.  "Yishing" attacks come via telephone, usually through a recorded messages that tells users to call a toll-free number.  The caller is then typically asked to punch in a credit card number or other personal information.  "Smishing" scams target mobile device users, sending text messages that might ask a recipient to register for a service that downloads a virus or warn that the consumer will be charged unless he cancels his supposed order by going to a website that then extracts such credit card numbers and other private data.  These are all tactics to get you to reveal personal or financial information.  Quick Tip:  If you receive these messages just delete them and do not click on any links, and hang up on callers you aren't familiar with.  Never give credit information online or over the phone unless you are sure of the identity of the caller.  If you are a victim of ID theft, call your financial institutions to have them cancel your cards and re-issue new ones.  Contact your local police and the main credit reporting agencies. 
  6. Relative Scam This phone scam targets grandparents who think they are aiding their grandchildren by sending money for an emergency situation, but are in fact giving thousands of dollars to con artists.  The victim receives a distressed phone call from someone he believes is his grandchild, who typically explains that he has been arrested or involved in an auto accident and needs the grandparent to wire money to post bail or pay for damages-usually amounting to a few thousand dollars.  Quick Tip:  Watch for the common tactics. The scam caller might say, “It’s me, your favorite grandchild” or “Grandma, do you know who this is?”, to which the grandparent will guess the name of the grandchild it sounds the most like, and then the call proceeds from there. Other scammers search Facebook profiles to find out when grandchildren and other family members are out of town before placing their well-timed phone calls. Seniors should always confirm the status of the individual by verifying the story with other family members before taking any further action like wiring money. 
  7. Job Scams In tough economic times, scammers target the unemployed and others through work-at-home, online, and mystery shopper job scams. Online job-hunters are told they will be paid to work from home once payment is sent for a start-up kit that never arrives. Mystery shoppers are hired to secret shop a wire-transfer service; they’re sent a check, told to deposit it, keep a small percentage of the money as their wage, wire the rest, and then complete the survey on the service you encounter. The so-called business address often turns out to be fake, with the money wire-transferred to another unknown location. In the end, the check received is a counterfeit or bogus, which the victim finds out only days later when it’s returned by their bank and they are out the money transferred. Quick Tip: Be skeptical of work-at-home and mystery shopper ads in newspapers or online job listings. In most cases, these are bogus services requiring you to pay money upfront. Avoid companies that promise guaranteed jobs and that sell directories of companies that provide mystery shoppers. Check with the BBB first. 
  8. Business Opportunities You may have heard about a new investment opportunity presentation in your neighborhood. Perhaps a good friend or family member has invited you to attend a presentation. These investments appear lucrative, but often are more hype than substance. Attendees don’t know anything about the company and are desperate to hear that it is legit. The promoter convinces investors that they can be part owners of investment portfolios if they enlisted new recruits, often promising commissions.  Quick TipIn reality, this is most likely a pyramid scheme. The new capital brought on by new investors is keeping this imaginary investment afloat. Get the facts. If you do go to an information session, collect business cards, promotional materials, and ask questions: Who are the principals of the company? What are the average earnings for a “typical” participant? What is the start-up cost? Gather as much information as possible before agreeing to anything.  
  9. Business Directory Scams Small business owners are often targets of scammers. Unauthorized invoices, unordered packages, and phony business directories are all common tactics used to bilk businesses out of money. Many businesses have received lookalike, or phony, invoices for advertising space in the familiar, locally distributed yellow page directories. These invoices are actually solicitations for listings in alternative business directories that differ from the well-known yellow pages. In fact, the different directory may not be that widely distributed, can be of little or no value to advertisers, or may never be published at all.  Quick TipBusinesses can protect themselves by alerting their accounting department or bill-payers to be on the look-out for disguised solicitations and carefully check suspicious bills from companies with which they don’t normally do business. To check the reliability of the company that is sending the solicitation, businesses should contact the BBB.  
  10. Overpayment Scams Online buyers and sellers, particularly those that use websites like Craigslist and Kijiji, are potential targets for overpayment scams. A person selling merchandise is contacted by someone claiming to be interested in buying the product. The purchaser arranges to make the payment by check and even offers more than the value of the product, asking for the extra money to be sent back to them by check or wired to an account. The check turns out to be fraudulent, leaving the shipper out of both funds and product.  Quick Tip: If you sell a product and the purchaser agrees to pay by check for more than the asking price, stop right there. The money being wired back will be lost, and the person who cashed the bogus check will be on the hook for the whole sum. Online buyers should watch out for deals that appear too good to be true, like items selling for below market value. Sellers of these items claim to reside out of town and will ask for shipping costs to be wired to them, when in fact the goods listed don’t even exist.
Questions can be sent to newsletter@waunakeepd.org.  Questions submitted may be featured in future newsletters.  The person submitting the question will not be identified.