Caddo Parish District Attorney James E. Stewart Sr. and Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator, along with area law enforcement experts in the field, warned local senior citizens and others this week of scams, schemes and criminal campaigns that use phone calls, emails, website and social media to steal from unsuspecting people.
“Some people see you as targets and look at you as a way to get money because you have such big hearts and kindness,” D.A. Stewart told a crowd of several dozen people at the Valencia Park Community Center on Viking Drive Thursday, December 6, 2018. “Sometimes it’s easy for you to go down a trail you don’t need to. We really would prefer to deal with other things than crimes against the elderly and children.”
Sheriff Prator, who has been the victim of identity theft despite having one of the most recognizable faces and names in Northwest Louisiana, warned seniors to be wary.
“Be careful, because there’s a bunch of people out there who want to take what you’ve worked hard to get,” Sheriff Prator said. “Let’s make it hard for them. Be vigilant. Be diligent.”
D.A. Stewart and Sheriff Prator offered numerous suggestions to avoid identity theft and cyber scams:
• Don’t give out credit card or Social Security numbers.
• Be careful offering any personal information, including date of birth.
• Don’t discuss financial information over the phone. Insist that any such material be mailed to you.
• Shred credit offers and receipts.
• Use direct deposit.
D.A. Stewart said its best for seniors and others targeted by scammers to not answer toll-free numbers they don’t know or talk to unsolicited callers, and especially don’t share personal information or confirm what they may have.
“That’s the best thing,” Stewart said. “Don’t start the conversation. If somebody gets your date of birth and your Social Security number, they can do a whole lot of damage to you.”
Sheriff Prator said the scammers can be might persuasive and they take advantage of more people, especially the elderly, using smart phones and computers more without having expertise.
“You know just enough to get in trouble,” Prator said. “You fall into the trap. They’re so good at making you think that they are who they are and they’re going to help you out.”
The two were assisted by area law officials who included Shreveport Assistant Chief of Police Wayne Smith, Caddo Sheriff’s Captains Don Gibbs and Bobby Herring and sheriff’s Lt. Alan Davidson.
People who believe they are victims of identity theft or an online scam should call the Caddo-Shreveport Financial Crimes Task Force at (318) 681-0775 or download the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s office online app, available both for Android and iOS smart phones, for alerts and warnings on scams.