CPD informs public of recent scams, fraud

A new site alerts citizens about local identity theft scams.

The Columbia Police Department created an alerts page on its Web site to inform Columbia residents of recent scams.

CPD also created the Web page to raise awareness of identity theft and scams. The Web site states when someone uses another person's name, social security number or credit card number without permission, that person has committed identity theft.

"I developed the alert page on our Web page to fill a desire on our part to let the community know about these issues without overly dramatizing or sensationalizing them," CPD spokeswoman Jessie Haden said.

The Federal Trade Commission said as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year, according to the Columbia Police Department's Web site.

The site also tells the story of a couple in Southwest Columbia who answered a knock on their door March 26 from a man who previously came to their home in January. The visitor said he was with social services and was investigating a complaint. The suspect said he wanted to come in to check the couple for bruises and see if they were OK, the Web site stated.

When the suspect came to their door in January, he wore dark sunglasses and was dressed in a sports coat, dress pants and shirt. He said he was looking for a man and after being told the person was not there, he asked to come in. The couple did not let him in, and he drove off in a gray Ford Taurus, the Web site stated.

In another incident reported March 26, a man returned to a Cypress Lane home after the resident first called the police on the visitor a month ago, the Web site stated. In February, the man came to the home and said he was with the military. After asking for the resident's personal information, he drove away in a cream-colored car. The resident did not let the suspect in her home in March, the Web site stated.

CPD issued a news release after the two incidents in March because they involved a string of a particular scam, Haden said.

Haden also said the department has not seen an increase in scams or frauds, but it is expanding the services of the Web site.

"The scammers unfortunately have one thing in common," Haden said. "They're hard to find. They are often out of state or out of the country."

Being aware of how information is stolen and protecting personal information are effective methods against identity theft, CPD's Web site stated.

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