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13th J.D. DA Warns of Phishing, ID Theft

BOSQUE FARMS —  Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez spoke to a small group of senior citizens about how to avoid a variety of scams that include phishing fraud and identity theft.

Last month, Martinez told the group at the Bosque Farms Community Center to be cautious about who they are talking to on the phone and what to do if someone asks for their personal information online.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez talks to residents about scams from phishing fraud and identity theft at the Bosque Farms Community Center last month.

The district attorney said he was the victim of identity theft about two years ago when he discovered someone was using his credit card to buy gas in another state.

“Things can happen even though you don’t want them to happen,” Martinez said. “(My example is) a form of identity theft. There’s some other ways people can scam you. It all depends on whether you let them or whether you don’t let them. I want to teach you how never to let them.”

Martinez said residents should be aware of phishing fraud, a type of crime that involves people misrepresenting themselves to get personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank account information.

He said companies won’t call customers to have people update their information.

Martinez said residents shouldn’t click on any links unless they are sure the website is secure.

Fraudulent emails will often use a familiar logo of a known company to entice online users to click on certain links.

Martinez said clicking on links on an unsecure website could result in a computer virus that could cost hundreds of dollars to remove from the machine.

“It looks legitimate, but it’s not,” Martinez said.

The district attorney said residents need to be sure to properly dispose of documents that have personal information like credit card numbers and bank account information.

He said his mother used to “pile up” statements from her checks on a regular basis. He said people should shred important documents.

He said people should destroy credit card applications people get in the mail.

“All of her information was right there,” Martinez said. “So, that’s one thing: get rid of your statements. If they break into your house: bingo.”

Martinez said residents could get phony money orders that people could mistakenly take for being real.

Once the money order is cashed, the bank eventually will charge the person for the full amount of the fake tender.

Bosque Farms resident Lillie McNabb said she got a call from someone that told her that he was her grandson. The male subject, who had the same name as her grandson, told her he was in Canada and needed money.

She said the call was muffled and said she knew it was a scam when he didn’t know the nickname she calls her grandson.

“It scares you,” McNabb said. “But when it happens, call the police.”

Another resident, Bonnie Walker, said the presentation was helpful. She said she doesn’t give out personal information while using the internet and doesn’t talk to solicitors over the phone.

“I tell them to take me off of their list,” Walker said.