Fraud is big business in the United States. An estimated 16 billion dollars was lost in 2016 up about a billion dollars from 2015. In Ponca City, during 2016, officers took 1746 reports of fraud with total losses exceeding $414,000.
Identity thieves, who commit financial fraud with stolen account information, had a banner year in 2016. These fraudsters successfully hit a record 15.4 million Americans — up 16 percent from 2015. Despite widespread efforts to fight this crime wave, the crooks successfully netted two million more victims and stole $16 billion dollars, a nearly billion dollar year-to-year increase, according to the new 2017 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research. And remember, we all pay for that loss in the form of higher prices and interest rates.
A huge increase seen nationwide is what is called ‘card not present’ CNP fraud. Scammers used stolen credit and debit card numbers to buy things online or over the phone. CNP fraud jumped 40 percent, while point-of-sale fraud remained essentially unchanged. Clearly, ID thieves are moving online as the continued adoption of chip-based cards — which are nearly impossible to counterfeit — makes fraud at the checkout counter more difficult. In Ponca City, the CNP total losses were $33,409.
A form of fraud specifically targets the elderly. A scheming caller says that the resident’s grandchild has been involved in an accident, arrested and needs attorney fees, bail money or car repairs and asks for bank account or credit card information from the grandparent. Another telephone scam that is reported often is when a resident receives a call from a person claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service threatening the resident with federal tax warrants if financial information is not given. What makes this seem one more real is the caller ID is spoofed making it appear that the call is actually coming from the IRS. Yet another example is when a citizen receives a phone call that they have won a huge lottery, but in order to claim the prize they are required to prepay the taxes on the winnings. In Ponca City alone our citizens lost nearly $342,000 during 2016.
These figures are staggering. Police advise citizens against ever giving financial information out over the phone whether its bank account information, credit or debit card information. Don’t be pressured to go to a large retailer to buy gift cards or money grams to settle a debt that you didn’t even know you had. At any time if you feel suspicious, simply hang up the phone. If you receive mail notification, call or come to the Police Department and speak with an officer. Remember, you haven’t become a victim if you don’t give them any information.
Fraud and scams are so costly and so very difficult to investigate. Most times the callers are from outside the United States even if the caller ID or they indicate they are calling locally.