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Statistics uncover a frightening picture of elder abuse in California. One of every 20 elderly people will be a victim of neglect or physical, psychological, or financial abuse this year.
By the year 2020, the number of elderly in California is expected to double to 6.6 million. Already, there are 4.8 million Californians over 60 years of age.
As the elderly population increases, so will the incidence of elder abuse . . .if we don't take action. As a community, we must recognize the seriousness of this problem and take steps to prevent it.
There are four general categories of elder abuse:
Financial (fiduciary) Abuse
The following cases illustrate the four generally recognized types of elder abuse. Some cases involve more than one type of abusive behavior, such as the abuser victimizing the elderly person both physically and emotionally. (The victims' names have been changed.)
Annie Wilson, 76, was assaulted several times by her son who was living with her at home. Neighbors reported these incidents to the police, but the victim and her son denied everything, claiming instead that the neighbors were assaulting them!
The abuse continued until finally the son knocked his mother down, hurting her badly enough that she needed hospitalization. Although Mrs. Wilson still didn't want to press charges, the injuries were severe enough that the son was arrested and charged with felony elder abuse.
Bertha Anderson, a deaf, legally blind, and wheelchair-bound woman in her 60's, told a neighbor that she was afraid her husband was going to kill her. His behavior was bizarre and he was threatening her with a gun. The neighbor called county adult protective services, and a social worker arranged to pick the woman up and drive her to a local women's shelter.
Mrs. Anderson revealed that her husband never let her go out and had kept her virtually a prisoner. He had refused to take her to an eye doctor, so she lost the sight in one eye due to cataracts. Following surgery for a broken hip, her husband refused to allow her to receive the therapy she required to walk again.
With the help of the social worker, Mrs. Anderson obtained a low-income apartment adapted for a wheelchair and qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and In-Home Support Services. She also got involved in recreational and social programs sponsored by the Blind Aid Society, and received appropriate medical care for her eyes and injured hip.
Robert Evans has a history of alcoholism and his mental condition is such that he is very forgetful. The 67-year-old man had previously suffered a fall, resulting in a broken hip. Unable to shop for himself, he was befriended by three women who offered to help him with shopping and cooking.
The women quickly gained his trust and began asking him for money. Mr. Evans wrote checks to the women, but a short time later would forget that he did so. They kept asking for more money, and not recalling the previous check, he would write another.
Tellers at Mr. Evans' bank became suspicious of the large amounts of money being withdrawn from his account and asked the police department and county conservator to investigate the situation. A freeze was placed on the account, but more than $17,000 had already been removed. Eventually the three women were arrested and charged with fiduciary elder abuse.
Rita Reates is a confused and incontinent 91-year-old woman who is cared for by her granddaughter. On one occasion she was found in saturated adult diapers, and on another, she was restrained with ropes around her waist and had several small cuts over her eyes.
While the granddaughter appeared to care a great deal for her grandmother and tried hard to meet her needs, Mrs. Yeates required around-the-clock care. Her doctor stated that she needed nursing home care. Adult protective services staff investigated and successfully placed Mrs. Yeates in a nursing home.
What You Can Do
We all have the right to be free from abuse and neglect. If an elderly person you know is being victimized, it is important for you to take action to stop it. Without intervention, abuse almost always escalates. Because victims are often reluctant to report it, an elderly person's well being may depend on you to recognize and report suspected abuse.
Reporting Elder Abuse
Reporting suspected elder abuse is simple. Call the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman or local law enforcement to report abuse in a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home or board and care home.
Abuse occurring anywhere other than a long-term care facility should be reported to the county Adult Protective Services agency (APS).
If you suspect abuse that seems to be life threatening, don't hesitate. Call the police or sheriff's department. They will notify any other agency that may need to be involved.
For further information on this program and other crime prevention material, write to:
Crime & violence Prevention CenterCalifornia Attorney General's OfficeP.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550.
Ventura Police Department 650-8010
Adult Protective Services 805.654.3200
Ombudsman Program (One Caring for Many)
Almost one-half of all Americans over 65 years old will spend some time in a long-term care facility. Ombudsmen help assure the highest quality of life and care possible for our elderly in long-term care facilities throughout Ventura County.
The Ombudsman's Mission
The Ventura County Ombudsman Program is founded on the principle that elderly persons unable to care for themselves are entitled to dependable and consistent care.
The Ventura County Ombudsman Program's mission is to assure the highest quality of life and care possible for those elderly persons in long-term care - most of whom are frail, vulnerable, and unable to represent themselves.
Who is an Ombudsman?
An Ombudsman (om-budz-man) is a specially trained and certified individual, either volunteer or staff, who advocates for quality care for elderly residents in Ventura County's long-term care facilities.
All Ombudsmen complete 36 hours of initial training, 15 hours of field service, and 12 hours each year of continuing education. He or she is certified by the California Department of Aging and accepts assignment to skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities throughout Ventura County.
To ensure quality care, the Ombudsman coordinates with licensing and regulatory agencies as well as law enforcement. The Ombudsman Program derives its authority from The Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., and Human Resources Code, Chapter 101, Subchapter C. 40 T.A.C.
Certified Ombudsmen fulfill vital services to our elderly by:
Providing pre-placement counseling for those considering long-term care options.
Identifying, investigating, and resolving complaints by or on behalf of the residents in either nursing facilities or board and care homes.
Providing services such as community education, direct caregiver and law enforcement training to assist in protecting the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents.
Informing residents about obtaining services.
Representing the interests of residents before governmental agencies.
Providing support group services to the resident's family members and loved ones.
Please call an Ombudsman when...
you are facing long-term care decisions for yourself or a loved one and would like information on Ventura County facilities and long-term care options.
you suspect elder abuse or neglect within any long-term care facility throughout Ventura County.
you have had to place a loved one in long-term care and are experiencing trauma and guilt.
you are confused about laws governing residents' rights, elder abuse or neglect.
you would like to become a volunteer and help ensure a quality life for our frail elderly in long-term care.
you need any information regarding long-term care.
The Ombudsman Program is administered by:
Long-Term Care Services of Ventura County, Inc.1841 Knoll Dr.Ventura, CA 93003www.OmbudsmanVentura.orgTelephone (805) 656-1986,FAX (805) 658-8540.
All services are free and confidentialServices are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a weekCall 805-656-1986 for emergency number
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Bicycle Theft Prevention:
Register your bike!
In cities where bicycle registration is mandatory, thefts of bikes are less likely to occur since they are not as easy to sell as un-registered bikes.If your bicycle is registered with the City of Ventura we can quickly pull up your information from our database if your bike is recovered. The registration records are kept in our in-house records management system and are checked when a bicycle is recovered.Bicycle Registration also aids in identifying the owner of a bicycle in case of a crash. Many bicyclists don't carry identification with them - this is especially true for children. It could take hours for emergency personnel to make positive identification and contact a parent if a child is hurt, or scared or confused.Please fill out the Bicycle License Application to register your bike.Questions? Please contact Crime Analyst Karen Heath Karayan at 805-339-4357 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It shouldn't hurt to be a kid, but children continue to be hurt every day. For these youngsters, there is no hope unless each one of us realizes that our most important duty is the protection, welfare, and growth of our children.
Child abuse can leave a scar that is carried throughout life. In fact, statistics show that the abused child all too often grows up to be an abuser. Studies suggest that 85 percent of convicted felons were abused as children. Breaking the cycle of abuse will not only protect our children, but will reduce crime now and in the future.
Without individual and community concern and involvement, there are really three "victims" of child abuse: the child, the abuser, and the community. Each of us can make a valuable contribution to the protection of children and the prevention of abuse. Our concern and involvement are critical - it may save a life.
Child abuse is legally defined as:
Indicators Of Child Abuse
Below are some indicators of child abuse that can help you recognize an existing or potential problem.
Neglect is essentially the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a parent or caretaker under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child's health or welfare.
Indicators of neglect:
The law requires certain professionals to report suspicion and/or knowledge of child abuse, which includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and cases of severe emotional abuse that constitute willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child. Community members also play an important role in protecting children from abuse and neglect. The life of a child may be saved if YOU become involved and report cases of suspected child abuse.
Involvement does not mean physical intervention or snooping on your neighbor. It simply means not ignoring the obvious. Fear of involvement has resulted in family tragedies in which neighbors reported they knew what was going on, but declined to get involved.
If a member of the community, who is not required by law to report, does not want to identify him or herself, the report may be made anonymously.
After Your Report
Many people are under the misconception that if a family is reported for child abuse, the parent will always be arrested and the child will be taken away from the family. Although this may occur in serious abuse cases, the family is usually referred to services such as counseling or parenting classes. In neglect cases, the family may be referred to public assistance agencies. However, the goal of child protective agencies is to try to keep the family unit intact unless the child is in danger. The goal of all of us is to protect our children and help them grow up healthy and happy.
To report suspected child abuse, contact your local:
Police or Sheriff's Department;
County Welfare Department; or
County Juvenile Probation Department
Child Abuse Council
Crime and Violence Prevention CenterOffice of the Attorney GeneralP.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Child Safety Seats
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics reveal that approximately 90% of child safety seats are installed or used incorrectly.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) can help you fit your seat and install them properly. Safety seat installation is done by appointment and you can find your local CHP Office by visiting the CHP's website at: http://www.chp.ca.gov/. The officer will inspect your child's safety seat for any problems, check for recalls, show you how to properly install it in your vehicle, go over correct usage, and cover basic child seat safety information with you.
For answers to your child safety seat questions you can also view the California Department of Public Health website or contact your local health department.
Domestic violence is more than just a "family problem" - it is a crime
In California, it is a crime for any person to threaten, beat, sexually assault, or otherwise harm another person, even if they are married.
Battering is not exclusively a crime against women, but women are the majority of victims; thus, this is primarily directed to the battered wife or woman.
Although there are few statistics on the incidence of domestic violence, we do know that:
Their husbands or boyfriends kill approximately 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States.
Females are much more likely than males to be killed by their spouse.
Domestic violence affects at least one out of every four American families.
Why Do People Stay in Abusive Situations?
Once violence has begun, it continues to increase in both frequency and severity. Understanding the psychological consequences of the violent relationship can help the woman take power and choose constructive alternatives, as well as aid those who intervene to help her.
The most frequently asked question concerning a battering situation is, "Why does she stay?" While reasons range from children, love, guilt, fear, pride, embarrassment, financial dependence - or a combination thereof - it is very possible that the woman is locked into a violence cycle.
Three-Phase Theory of Family Violence
The family violence cycle consists of three phases:
1. Tension-Building Phase
During this phase, the woman senses her mate's increasing tension. He is "edgy" and perhaps challenges her and/or tells her she is stupid or incompetent. The woman may internalize her appropriate anger at his unfairness, and experience physical effects such as depression, tension, anxiety, and headaches. As the tension in the relationship increases, minor episodes of violence, such as pinching, slapping, or shoving, increase.
2. Acute-Battering Incident
The tension-building phase ends in an explosion of violence. The woman may or may not fight back. Following the battering, she is in a state of physical and psychological shock. The man may discount the episode and underestimate the woman's injuries.
3. Loving Reconciliation
During the last phase of the family violence cycle, both parties have a sense of relief that "it's over." The man is often genuinely sorry for what happened and is fearful that his partner will leave him. He apologizes and may "shower" her with love and praise that helps her repair her shattered self-esteem. He tells her he can't live without her, so that she feels responsible for his well being and guilty for her actions. She blames herself for her actions and for what led up to the abuse.
If You Become a Victim of Domestic Violence
Everyone has the right to be safe from threats and beatings - but you must take that first step. Once you recognize that it isn't your fault and it is possible to change your situation, seek the help you need.
Call the police or sheriff.
Make sure you are safe from another beating. Whenever you believe you are in danger, leave your home and take your children with you. Also, take important papers such as your birth certificate and vehicle registration.
Get medical attention. Don't try to treat yourself; you may be injured much more seriously than you realize.
Seek assistance. Whether or not you file charges against your batterer, you may need to talk to a professional about your situation. Contact your local battered women's shelter, women's support group, or victims' assistance center.
Save all the evidence (proof) you can. (You may even want to take photographs of your injuries.) Whether or not you file charges now, you may later change your mind and will then need proof that you have been assaulted.
If you need help, look in the yellow pages of your telephone directory under "Women's Services and Organizations."
If nothing is listed, look under the name of your city or county for departments of family services, social services, health, or welfare. These agencies can offer help to you or refer you to someone who can help.
Check the white pages of your telephone book under the heading "Crisis." Many areas have crisis hot lines that are answered 24 hours a day.
Remember that your local police and sheriff's departments are there to help you. You should always have their numbers handy for an emergency.
Other sources of help and/or referral are the Salvation Army or your private physician or attorney.
Also, look in the yellow pages under "Attorney Referral Service," "Legal Assistance" or "Bar Association" if you have a low income and need a lawyer.
No victim of sexual assault shall be required to participate or agree to participate in the criminal justice system, either prior to examination or at any other time (Penal Code 13823.95 (b))
A person who was arrested may be released on bond or some other form of release. If you are a victim you should not rely upon an arrest as a guarantee of safety
The Ventura County District Attorney's Office offers information for victim help: http://www.vcdistrictattorney.com/victims/ http://www.vcdistrictattorney.com/faqs/
Ventura Police Department Emergency, call 9-1 -1After hours Ventura Police Department, 805-650-8010
Interface: Children and Family Services, 800-339-9597
Battered Women's Hotline, 805-656-1111
Ventura County Victim Services, 805-654-3622
California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
Campus Sexual Assault Resources - CA Attorney General https://oag.ca.gov/campus-sexual-assault
VINElink National Victim Notification Network: https://www.vinelink.com/vinelink/initMap.do
Did you know that on average approximately 70% of residential burglaries occur during the daytime? Did you also know that on average more than 60% of the incidents are the result of doors, windows, or garage doors, being left open or unlocked?
Below are some helpful crime fighting burglary prevention steps you can take to help combat crime and make a difference in our community.
Burglary Prevention Tips & Neighborhood Safety
Use common sense - don’t be an easy target
LOCK and close your doors and windows. Yes, even when you’re home
Do not leave your garage door open or unlocked if you are not in the immediate area.
Immediately report any and all suspicious activity by calling our 24-hour, non-emergency number at 805.650.8010 or 911 in the event of an emergency
If you have an alarm set it!
Install quality locks on doors and windows and USE them.
Lighting is one of the best deterrents to nightime burglary - indoor and outdoor lighting is important.
Beware of solicitors. Door-to-door sales people in the City of Ventura must have a business license issued by the City and to have registered in person with our department. The following link provides information on door-to-door permits, licenses, and the process. http://www.cityofventura.net/businesslicense#door
Don’t let strangers into your home - this includes workers and others - if you are not with them.
Photograph your valuables and engrave your property with a form of identification, such as your driver’s license number.
Start and participate in Neighborhood Watch Program by calling 339-4423.
If you are going to be out of town have family, friends, or neighbors check on your home or place of business. You can also call our Volunteer Coordinator at 805.339.4320 and ask for a Vacation to Check to be conducted while you are gone.
Suspicious Activity - What to Look For
Solicitors going house to house
Suspicious/unfamiliar subjects walking or loitering in the area
Suspicious/unfamiliar subjects parked in a car on the street, alleyway, side of a home, etc.
Subject parked on the street and talking on a cell phone.
Subjects casing homes
Occupied suspicious vehicles that appear out of place and are not normally parked in the area, or you are not familiar with the vehicle
Anyone carrying property that seems suspicious or out of place
Lock Crime Out Of Your Home
Making your home safer from crime doesn’t always mean having to install expensive alarms - effective home security starts with properly locked doors and windows and visible, well lighted entryways.
All exterior doors should be either metal or solid wood. For added security, use strong door hinges on the inside of the door, with non-removable or hidden pins. Every entry door should be well lighted and have a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is outside without opening the door.
Strong, reliable locks are essential to effective home security. Always keep doors and windows locked - even a five-minute trip to the store is long enough for a burglar to enter your home.
Use quality keyed knobs as well as deadbolts. Deadbolts can withstand the twisting, turning, prying, and pounding that regular keyed knobs can’t.
When choosing a deadbolt, look for features such as:
* a bolt that extends at least one inch when in the locked position, to resist ramming and kicking;
* hardened steel inserts to prevent the lock from being sawed off;
* a reinforced strike plate with extra-long mounting screws to anchor the lock effectively.
Most deadbolts are a single cylinder that operates from the outside with a key and from the inside with a thumb latch. Double-cylinder deadbolts require a key to open the lock from both outside and inside your home. These locks are especially effective for doors with glass within 40 inches of the lock - an intruder cannot break the glass and unlock the door by reaching through.
Some jurisdictions do not allow double-cylinder deadbolts - check with your local law enforcement or building code authority before installing a double-cylinder deadbolt. As an alternative, security glazing can be applied to glass panels in or near the door, or shatterproof glass can be installed, although these options can be expensive.
Sliding Glass Doors
Sliding glass doors can offer easy entry into your home. To improve security on existing sliding glass doors, you can:
* install keyed locking devices that secure the door to the frame;
* adjust the track clearances on the doors so they can’t be pushed out of their tracks;
* put a piece of wood or a metal bar in the track of the closed door to prevent the door from opening even if the lock is jimmied or removed.
Most standard double-hung windows have thumb-turn locks between the two window panels. Don’t rely on these! They can be pried open or reached easily through a broken windowpane. Instead, install keyed locking devices to prevent the window from being raised from the outside. Make sure everyone in the house knows where to find the keys in case of an emergency. Again, some jurisdictions have restrictions on this type of lock, so check with your local law enforcement before you install them.
An easy, inexpensive way to secure your windows is to use the "pin" trick. Drill an angled hole through the top frame of the lower window partially into the frame of the upper window. Then insert a nail or eyebolt. The window can’t be opened until you remove the nail. Make a second set of holes with the windows partly opened so you can have ventilation without intruders.
Lighting is one of the most cost-effective deterrents to burglary. Indoor lighting gives the impression that a home is occupied. If you are going to be away from your home, consider using automatic timers to switch interior lights on and off at preset times.
Outdoor lighting can eliminate hiding places. Install exterior lighting near porches, rear and side doorways, garage doors, and all other points of entry. Entryways to your home always should be well lighted. Place lights out of reach from the ground so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken. Aim some lights away from the house so you can see if anyone is approaching, or install motion-sensing lights that will turn on automatically as someone approaches.
Shrubs and LandscapingYour home’s walkways and landscaping should direct visitors to the main entrance and away from private areas. The landscaping should provide maximum visibility to and from your house. Trim shrubbery that could conceal criminal activity near doors and windows. Provide light on areas of dense shrubs and trees that could serve as hiding places. Cut back tree limbs that could help thieves climb into windows, and keep yard fencing low enough to avoid giving criminals places to hide.
Burglars and Pest Control
Tenting your home for pest control applications can make you vulnerable to burglary. The crooks know that no one will be in the residence, and that it’s likely the owners have left most of their possessions inside. In addition, several days may pass before a break-in is even detected and reported.
You’d think the big skull and cross bones signs all around your property indicating the presence of toxic poisons would deter anyone from entering, but that is not always the case. Although not common, we do receive reports of incidents that have occurred under these circumstances, and in fact responded to a similar call recently where entry was made by breaking a back window.
What to do? A few extra precautions can go a long way:
Take the smaller of your most valued possessions with you.
Alert your neighbors, ask them to watch for, AND report, any suspicious activity.
Call 339-4320 to request a "vacation" check. Our Volunteers in Policing will put your address on their route and check on your residence periodically as their time allows.
If you have any type of security system in place, be sure to advertise it with a lawn sign or other indicator that may discourage bad guys.
If you have access to an RV, you might consider staying in it on your property so you can keep an eye on things. If you will be parking it on the street, be sure to call our Traffic Division at 339-4401 to get a waiver so you don’t get cited or towed under the Oversized Vehicle Ordinance.
Burglars Hate Dogs
It’s true. At least they hate coming across dogs at their victim’s residences. Interviews with crooks show that having a dog, or at least appearing to have a dog, is one of the greatest deterrents to a break-in.
If you have ever considered owning a dog, here’s one more good excuse. Ventura County Animal Control has a wide selection to choose from who would love to be given charge of your home.
However, if you are not interested in actually owning (and feeding, and playing with and cleaning up after) a real live dog, here are some other ideas you might consider:
Put up a "Danger, Dog on Duty" sign. Cheap, not messy, and just might be convincing.
Get a couple of big, emphasis on BIG dog bowls, fill one with water and put them in your yard.
Peruse your local do-it-yourself or electronics store (or the internet) for a doorbell that, when rung, sounds like a doberman pincher launching into attack.
Even higher tech, and probably proportionately higher priced, is a nifty motion sensing gadget that begins barking as someone approaches your house and then gets louder and more frantic the closer the person comes. Search for "electronic watch dog".
"Cluster" mailboxes are those that house mail receptacles for several residences. These are common, but not exclusive to, apartment and condominium complexes. They make particularly attractive targets for thieves, as once the back of the box is breached, all of the individual sections become accessible and mail from many households can be taken in a very short period of time.
The information contained in both incoming and outgoing mail can often be used for fraudulent purposes, most notably Identity Theft type crimes.
To minimize your risk:
Make sure your mail is picked up every day, the sooner after it arrives the better.
Do not leave outgoing mail in a cluster mailbox. Use public mail receptacles as they are more secure, or perhaps mailing from your place of employment would be a good option.
Most banks will allow you to arrange to pick up your checks from the bank in person instead of having them mailed to your home.
Shred your mail before disposing of it in the trash or recycle bin.
Securing Door Hinges
We recently had a report of someone removing the hinges from a garage door in order to gain entry and steal valuable tools. Although most people don’t give a second thought to the securing their door hinges, it is an important part of your overall home security plan.
This is particularly true for doors that swing outward. On this type of door, the hinge pins are typically exposed on the outside of the house. This could allow an intruder to tap the hinge pins up and out, and lift the door off its hinges, removing the door without unlocking it.
Here are some suggestions from the California Attorney Generals Office describing how to rectify problems with outward swinging doors:
Have the hinges remounted on the inside of the frame so that the door swings inward.
Install a set of hinges with non-removable hinge pins.
Install a locking pin in the existing hinge plate. Here is how: Once this is done, as the door closes, the pin in the jamb will penetrate the hole in the door and the door will be held in position even if the hinge pins are removed.
Remove the center screws from the plates of each hinge.
Insert a “headless” screw, bolt or nail into the doorjamb through the hole in the hinge plate.
Leave 1/2 inch of the screw, bolt or nail protruding.
Drill a 3/4-inch hole through the opening in the opposite hinge plate on the door.
Identity Theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone’s identifying information such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, mother’s maiden name, etc., in order to impersonate them. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud, including taking over the victim’s financial accounts, purchasing automobiles, applying for loans, credit cards, and social security benefits, renting apartments, establishing utility and phone services as well as many other creative theft schemes.
Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Mail & Telephone:
Promptly remove mail from your mailbox upon delivery.
Deposit outgoing mail in Post Office collection mailboxes or at your local Post Office. Do not leave mail in unsecured mail receptacles.
Never give personal information over the telephone, such as your social security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, credit card numbers, or bank PIN number. Protect this information and only release it when absolutely necessary and only to someone with whom you are familiar.
Never give information to solicitors who try to obtain your personal information or credit card numbers.
Credit Cards & Wallets:
Shred pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills, and other financial information you don’t want before discarding them in the trash or recycling bin.
Empty your wallet of extra credit cards and ID's. Cancel the ones you don't use and maintain a list of the ones you do use.
Order your credit report from the three credit bureaus once a year to check for fraudulent activity or other discrepancies.
Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles or unattended gas pumps. Keep track of all your paperwork and when you no longer need it, shred it!
Memorize your social security number, all PIN numbers, and passwords. Do not record them on any cards or documents carried in your wallet or purse.
Sign all new credit cards upon receiving them. Without your signature your card company may not cover any fraudulent charges on your card.
Save all credit card receipts and check them against your monthly statement.
Notify your credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any change of address or phone number(s).
Never loan your credit cards to anyone.
Never record your credit card number or financial account numbers on a postcard or on the outside of an envelope.
If you apply for a new credit card and it does not arrive in a timely manner, call the bank or issuing card company and report the delay.
Report all lost or stolen credit cards to your card company immediately.
Closely monitor expiration dates on your credit cards. Contact the credit card issuer if replacement cards are not received prior to the expiration dates.
Internet and Online Services
Be very careful when disclosing checking account numbers, credit card numbers or other financial data on any website or online service location, unless you receive a secured authentication key from your provider.
When you subscribe to an on-line service, you are commonly requested to supply a credit card number. When you enter any interactive service site be aware of con artists who may ask you to “confirm” your enrollment service by disclosing passwords or credit card numbers used to subscribe.
Make sure your anti-virus definitions are up to date on your computer.
Install a firewall to help protect your computer from intruders.
Beware of e-mails asking you to confirm, or "click here" to confirm your account information. It is always best to visit a site directly rather than clicking on a link provided in an e-mail.
What to do If You Become a Victim
Keep a log of all your contacts and make copies of all documents. Set up a folder to keep a detailed history of this crime.
Contact all creditors, by phone and in writing, to inform them of the problem.
Notify the U.S. Postal Inspector if someone tampered with or stole your mail.U.S. Postal Inspection Service for Ventura: 1-626-405-1200.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).The FTC helps victims by providing information to help resolve financial and other problems that could result from identity theft.
Alert your banks to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity. Request a change of your PIN number.
If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to your bank and cancel the account(s). Make sure your bank enters your closed account into Check Systems. If necessary, notify one of the following check verification services of your closed or fraudulent accounts.
National Check Fraud Service: (843) 571-2143
SCAN: (800) 262-7771 --- TeleCheck: (800) 710-9898 or (800) 927-0188
Cross Check: (707) 586-0551 (call after 30 days).
Contact every merchant who accepted a fraudulent check and send them a copy of your Affidavit of Forgery and police report. This will help defuse creditors and avoid negative credit ratings.
Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline (800) 269- 0271.
Contact the State Office of the Department of Motor Vehicles to see if another license was issued in your name. If so, request a new license number and fill out the DMV complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process.
Obtain description of suspect, if known.
Obtain witness information, including names and phone numbers.
Report Identity Theft to Credit Bureaus
Call each of the three Credit Bureau Fraud Units to report your identity theft. Ask to have a Fraud Alert/Victim Impact statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts. Request a copy of your Credit Report from each of the three credit bureaus.
EquifaxP.O. Box 740241Atlanta, Georgia 30374To order your report: 1-800-685-1111To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285
ExperianP.O. Box 9530Allen, Texas 75013To order report: 1-888-397-3742
Trans UnionP.O. Box 390Springfield, PA 19064To order your report: 1-800-916-8800To report fraud, cal1-800-680-7289
Federal Trade Commission | 1-877-438-4338
California Department of Consumer Affairs
Privacy Rights Clearing House
U.S. Government Accounting Office
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators
Consumer Affairs Identity Theft Protection
Bank ATM Skimmer Devices
Our department occasionally receives reports from individuals who have been victims of an ATM “Skimmer” device scam. It is believed the criminal(s) install equipment onto legitimate bank ATM's in order to steal both the ATM card number and the PIN. The perpetrator(s) sit in a nearby car receiving the information transmitted wirelessly from the equipment installed on the front of the ATM. (Please see some example photos below or we also recommend doing a search on the Internet for “ATM Skimmers” which will yield a number of image results).
The equipment used to capture the ATM card number and PIN is cleverly disguised to look like normal ATM equipment. What’s known as a "skimmer" is mounted to the front of the normal ATM card slot that reads the ATM card number and transmits it to the criminals sitting in a nearby car. In many cases, a wireless camera is disguised to look like a leaflet holder and is mounted in a position to view ATM PIN entries. The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands from many accounts in a very short time directly from the bank ATM.
In many cases it seems the device is attached to the front of the ATM by Velcro or double sided tape and can be easily removed. In order to ensure the ATM is authentic, the user should take hold of the card receiver and give it a tug. If it is fake it should dislodge from the ATM machine and come off. Also, it is suggested to put your hand over the keypad when you enter your PIN so it can't be seen by a camera.
The VPD wants to remind you to be cautious when using any ATM machine. If something about it looks suspicious, don’t use it. If you see what you suspect is a “skimmer”, report it immediately to the bank and to law enforcement.
Additional ATM safety tips:
Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. If you observe or sense suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine at that time.
Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM. Don't wait to get to the ATM and then take your card out of your wallet or purse.
Be careful that no one can see you enter your PIN at the ATM. Use your body to "shield" the ATM keyboard as you enter your PIN into the ATM.
To keep your account information confidential, always take your receipts or transaction records with you.
Do not count or visually display any money you received from the ATM. Immediately put your money into your pocket or purse and count it later.
If you are using a drive-up ATM, be sure passenger windows are rolled up and all doors are locked.
If you leave your car and walk to the ATM, lock your car.
What Can I Do TODAY to Protect My Computer?
Get an Anti-Virus Program
An anti-virus program protects your computer by scanning your computer and all in-coming traffic for viruses. If it detects a virus, it will either delete it, or quarantine it for you to review individually and determine what you want done with it. Make sure your program is turned on
Set to "auto-update" including the "virus definition file" so it stays current with downloads available from the web and knows what new viruses to look for
Set to "auto-scan" your whole system at least twice a month
Get an Anti-Spyware Program
An anti-spyware program helps protect your computer from spyware that monitors your online activities and collects personal information while you surf the web. Make sure you set your program to "auto-update" including the "spyware definition file" so it stays current with downloads available from the web
Run your anti-spyware program at least once per week
Set Up a Firewall
A firewall filters and blocks traffic coming into your computer according to the rules you set. Some folks use the one that comes with their Windows or Mac operating systems, others download separate software. Whichever you prefer, make sure to use only one firewall, all others should be turned off for effective protection.
Review and modify the settings that determine what in-coming traffic is allowed onto your computer so they are set to your personal preferences.
When you are alerted about blocked traffic, most firewall software (although not Windows at this time) will give you a recommendation as to how to proceed with the blocked content.
Parental Internet Safety from the District Attorney
The DA's Office has a section on their website with very comprehensive and useful information regarding how to help keep your kids safe on the internet
"Cyberbullying" is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is not called cyberbullying.
Our department understands and takes seriously the importance of recognizing, educating, and helping to prevent cyberbullying. Our School Resource Officers (SROs) often provide presentations on cyberbullying to local Ventura Unified Schools. The presentation is presented at school in the form of a Power Point however, you can view the presentation below as a .pdf. Additionally, if you or your child are interested in attending a presentation please contact a SRO for more information.
Ventura PD SRO Cyberbullying presentation
Here are some helpful cyberbullying websites:
What is Cyberbullying
Stop Cyber Bullying
Cyber Bullying Research Center
Spotting Hoaxes and Urban Legends on E-Mail
This information comes from the National Cyber Alert System.
Identifying Hoaxes and Urban Legends
Chain letters are familiar to anyone with an email account, whether they are sent by strangers or well-intentioned friends or family members. Try to verify the information before following any instructions or passing the message along.
Why are chain letters a problem?
The most serious problem is from chain letters that mask viruses or other malicious activity. But even the ones that seem harmless may have negative repercussions if you forward them:
they consume bandwidth or space within the recipient's inbox
you force people you know to waste time sifting through the messages and possibly taking time to verify the information
you are spreading hype and, often, unnecessary fear and paranoia
What are some types of chain letters?
There are two main types of chain letters:
Hoaxes - Hoaxes attempt to trick or defraud users. A hoax could be malicious, instructing users to delete a file necessary to the operating system by claiming it is a virus. It could also be a scam that convinces users to send money or personal information.
Urban legends - Urban legends are designed to be redistributed and usually warn users of a threat or claim to be notifying them of important or urgent information.
How can you tell if the email is a hoax or urban legend?
Some messages are more suspicious than others, but be especially cautious if the message has any of the characteristics listed below. These characteristics are just guidelines--not every hoax or urban legend has these attributes, and some legitimate messages may have some of these characteristics:
it suggests tragic consequences for not performing some action
it promises money or gift certificates for performing some action
it offers instructions or attachments claiming to protect you from a virus that is undetected by anti-virus software
it claims it's not a hoax
there are multiple spelling or grammatical errors, or the logic is contradictory
there is a statement urging you to forward the message
it has already been forwarded multiple times (evident from the trail of email headers in the body of the message)
If you want to check the validity of an email, there are some web sites that provide information about hoaxes and urban legends:
Urban Legends and Folklore
Snopes: Urban Legends Reference Page
Symantec Security Response Hoaxes
McAfee Security Virus Hoaxes
PHISHING (fish´ing) (n.) The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information.
PHONE or VOICE PHISHING – also called “VISHING”, is similar to the above strategy. But since so many folks have become wary of clicking on the links included in these types of e-mails, the sender gives you a phone number to call.
It is illegal to park in the following locations:
No parking zones marked by a red curb, no parking signs, or no standing signs.
In front of a private or public driveway.
In front of or within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant.
Within marked or unmarked crosswalks. A crosswalk is considered to be in the extension of sidewalk boundary lines across a street or at any location where crosswalks are marked with white or yellow lines.
Anywhere within an intersection including the corner curb area.
Within 7'6" of a railroad track.
For the purpose of advertising or selling.
For the purpose of maintaining or repairing automobiles.
In handicapped parking spaces without displaying the proper placard or license plate.
Where a vehicle will obstruct or block a handicapped parking space.
Within three feet of a handicapped access ramp.
In the striped loading zone next to handicapped parking spaces.
Straddling the markings or lines designating a parking stall.
What Do Green, Yellow and White Painted Curbs Mean?
Green Zones are limited term parking, usually 20 or 30 minutes, as marked on the curb. In any limited parking zone, you can receive a citation if you exceed the maximum limit by one minute or more. To avoid a citation, you must vacate the parking space within the time limit specified in order to let other members of the public use these high-demand spaces.
Yellow Zones are for commercial vehicles to load and unload merchandise for up to 20 minutes only. Yellow zones are usually found in commercial areas and are for the use of adjacent commercial establishments.
White Zones are for loading and unloading passengers for up to three minutes only and are usually used in such places as airports, hospitals, and bus and train stations.
Blue Markings reserve parking spaces for disabled persons and are provided in off-street parking lots.
Can The Back of a Vehicle Overhang the Sidewalk When it is Parked in a Private Driveway?
The California Vehicle Code strictly prohibits vehicles from parking on sidewalks or overhanging the sidewalk and causing an obstruction, especially when parked in a driveway. The sidewalk must be kept clear at all times.
The Grandparent Scam typically works as follows: … The victim receives a phone call from an individual(s) posing as their grandchild and claiming to be in jail and in need of money for bail, or in the hospital, or that they have just been in an accident. The imposters usually claim they are in another state or out of the country and need money wired to a “so called” bail bondsman, attorney, or other individual to help bail them out of jail or pay for medical bills. The amount the perpetrators ask to be wired has varied from $500 to $5000. Many times these perpetrators also call victims using phones with static so as to help convince the elderly person their grandchild/relative is truly calling from a distant location.
The con works because the scammers prey upon the emotions of caring and trusting elderly individuals who are concerned about the safety and well being of their grandchild. The individuals who have reported incidents to the VPD said they were suspicious about the phone call but their worry and anxiety for their grandchild overshadowed their doubts. Furthermore, some of the individuals who complied with the perpetrator’s request did so because they feared the criminals could have additional personal information on them or other family members and might retaliate in some fashion. Others, unfortunately, said they were too embarrassed initially to report being a victim of this type of crime.
We want to remind community members to never blindly follow directions from someone on the phone that requests personal information or money. Please take the time to verify the story and its authenticity. For example, you could ask the caller a question that only a relative would know the answer to. If you are suspicious do not send money, hang up the phone, and report the incident to the police.
You can also report scams online to the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. They maintain a national repository of information and will insure your information gets to the proper investigating authority. If you are the victim of a crime please report it immediately to the Ventura Police Department at 1425 Dowell Dr., Ventura, CA, or call 805-339-4400.
Lotto Scams - Mystery Shopper - Check Fraud
Although there is some variation to each particular scam, the premise of each is fairly consistent – that is, in one form or another you are asked to send money or cash a fraudulent check.
In most cases the scam works as follows: the victim receives an official looking letter claiming to be from a recognized financial institution, state lottery, sweepstakes organization, or other entity. The letter normally congratulates you on your winnings, states you have won a prize, or have been selected to take part in some sort of promising opportunity. You are also asked to cash an enclosed check, which appears valid and legitimate, in exchange for a forthcoming payment, or so they may process your payment for an additional prize when you send money. The victim may also be asked to send money via wire or money gram to cover the initial “taxes, fees, or legal costs” associated with said prize.
In another form of related Lottery Scams, suspects will claim that they have a winning lottery ticket but that they are not legal residents of the United States and therefore, cannot turn the ticket in to get their winnings. The suspects will then offer to sell the "winning ticket" to the victim for a substantial amount of money, but still less than the ticket is supposed to be worth.
In this case, the victim loses the cash and ends up with a worthless, fake lottery ticket.
Regardless, these types of scams work when you send money via wire, and/or cash the enclosed check/lotto ticket. Although it may take weeks for the forgery to be discovered the check you deposit into your account is fraudulent and will bounce. Meanwhile if you also wired money you could potentially be out twice.
Whatever the set-up, the results are always the same for the victim – they end up losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in these scams. Be advised that YOU are responsible for checks or money deposited into your account. When a check or money order bounces YOU will owe the bank the money you withdrew and the scammer will have the additional money sent in his/her pocket.
Below are some helpful tips to recognize a possible scam:
Ask yourself these questions:
Does it look to good to be true? Then it probably is.
Did you initiate contact with this company? For example, are you being notified that you won a contest you never entered? Unsolicited offers are often questionable.
Are there errors or inconsistencies in the information provided? For example, does the letter list a company address in one country/state while the check issued is from a company in a different country/state?
Does the text reflect a poor command of the English language? Here’s an example from another letter, “We are therefore with great pleasure to notify you that your e-mail address once again, happened to come out top number (1).”
Are they asking for money or personal information?
Are they insisting you must “act now” or lose a good opportunity?
Most of these questions sound obvious and a good dose of common sense is usually good enough to keep you from being a victim. However, the crooks that perpetrate these kinds of scams only do so because they are successful at it and it pays for them.
The letters, e-mails, and phone calls often sound legitimate and can be very convincing. If in doubt, shred the mail, hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, or refuse to open the door to your home to someone you don’t know and trust.
I Scam Dead People
OK, I don't really scam dead people, but some crooks do. There was a guy in Florida who, using names and social security numbers of 160 deceased folks was able to acquire 700 credit cards from 15 different financial institutions, charging nearly 2 million dollars over a three year period. Phew!
This is an extraordinary case, but using someone's death to perpetrate crime is not terribly uncommon. Thousands of credit cards and checking accounts are opened every year in the name of folks who have already left this mortal world.
Bad guys scan obituaries and funeral service notices for information like:
Names of descendants relative (mother's maiden name?)
Anything else they might be able to use for fraudulent purposes.
Sadly, there are even cases of really brazen thieves watching for dates and times of services and then burglarizing relatives homes while they are honoring their loved one. In this case, it would be prudent to ask a neighbor or friend to stay at the house during services to keep an eye on things.
It's unpleasant, but important to be aware of these types of crimes and to take precautions to guard against them. The Identity Theft Resource Center has compiled fact sheets on a number of types of scams and fraud, including one on Identity Theft and the Deceased.
Gold Bar - Jewelry Scam
The "Gold Bar" or "Jewelry" Scam is fairly common and has occurred in several jurisdictions within Ventura County. A typical scenario might go like this:
One of two Spanish speaking suspects lures the victim, who is often elderly, into a conversation about the suspect having a family member in dire need of medical attention. Suspect #1 offers to sell the victim a "gold bar", or high priced jewelry, in order to get the money needed to obtain medical treatment. Suspect #2 comes along and confirms that the "gold bar"/jewelry is real and very valuable.
The suspects then accompany the victim to the bank where the victim makes a substantial withdrawal and hands the money over to the crooks for a worthless piece of concrete painted gold, or fake jewelry.
Resources & Helpful Websites
Identity Theft-Frauds-Scams: You hear about them all the time. Everyone knows somebody who's been a victim, or has been a victim themselves. It's a nightmare for those who get ripped-off and a nightmare for those who investigate these types of crime.
Fraud.org (Check it out!)
You can report scams online to the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. They maintain a national repository of information and will insure your information gets to the proper investigating authority. If you are the victim of a crime please report it immediately to the Ventura Police Department at 1425 Dowell Dr., Ventura, CA, or call 805-339-4400.
Technological advances help the bad guys cover their tracks pretty well so they are near impossible to tie to their crimes. And jurisdictional enforcement issues can involve city and state police, the FBI, the FTC, US Postal Service and many, many other agencies.
How to make sense of it all?
Call 1-800-876-7060. They take reports, analyze the incidents, and then forward them to the appropriate investigating agency.
They also have lots of great tips and information on their website, so be sure to have a look!
Some Helpful Websites:
www.fraud.org (National Consumers League’s Fraud Center)
www.ic3.gov/default.aspx (Internet Crime Complaint Center)
www.idtheftcenter.org/ (Non profit ID Theft Center)
www.scambusters.org (Helpful Scam Buster Website)
www.ftc.gov (Federal Trade Commission)
www.fraudsandscams.com (Use the Drop Down Link to Check out Many Common Scams and Frauds)
http://da.countyofventura.org/special_prosecutions/victim_services/va_br... (Ventura County DA's Office Crime Prevention Handbook for Seniors)
Recommendations for Renters
California’s Megan’s Law provides the public with certain information on the whereabouts of sex offenders so members of our local communities may protect themselves and their children.
Megan’s Law is named after 7 year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy, the Kanka Family sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area. All states now have a form of Megan’s Law.
The State of California's Department of Justice Sex Offender Tracking Program maintains the registered sex offender database. The database is the basis for the information displayed on the Internet website. By law, persons convicted of specified sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders with a local law enforcement agency. Prior to release from prison, jail, a mental hospital, or on probation, sex offenders are notified in writing of their duty to register and a copy is forwarded to the Department of Justice.
Ventura Police Department registers and tracks approximately 220 sex offenders for the City of Ventura. Registered sex offenders are required to update their information annually, within 5 working days of their birthday. Transients (homeless) must update every 30 days, sexually violent predators every 90 days, and any time a registrant changes their address or becomes homeless. If the registrant is in violation of the update requirements, the Internet website will show the registrant as being in violation.
California Penal Code 290 requires mandatory registration as a sex offender for persons convicted of the sex offense listed in Section PC 290(a)2(A) through PC 290(a)2(E). Even if the offense is not listed in these sections, the person may be ordered by a court to register as a sex offender if the criminal offense committed was sexually motivated. Section 290 applies automatically to the enumerated offenses, and imposes on each person convicted a lifelong obligation to register.
Megan’s Law Website provides the citizen with a photo of the sex offender, physical descriptors, addresses (in most cases), convicted sex offenses, scars, marks and tattoos, and known aliases and parks, schools and a map of up to a 2 mile radius search. Not every registered sex offender will appear on the Internet website. Approximately 25% of registered sex offenders are excluded from public disclosure by law. This is based on the type of sex crime for which the person is required to register. Any person who is required to register as a sex offender is prohibited from entering the Megan’s Law Website.
The website also has an email address and phone number for the Department of Justice to report any information about a sex offender. The Department of Justice will forward any information to the proper law enforcement agency that the sex offender is last registered with.
Informational Websites and Phone Numbers
State of California Megan’s Law: www.meganslaw.ca.gov
Sex Offender Registry for other states: www.fbi.gov
Operation Predator: www.ice.gov
Office of the Attorney General: www.oag.ca.gov
Missing Persons / Children websites: California Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit- www.caag.state.ca.us/missing (International missing, most wanted)
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: www.missingkids.com 1(800) THE-LOST
Amber Alert: (800) 222-FIND
National Runaway Switchboard: (800) RUN-AWAY www.nrscrisisline.org
Interface: www.icfs.org (800) 339-9597
Association of Missing and Exploited Children's Organizations: www.amecoinc.org
The CyberTipLine (Child Pornography Tipline): (800) 843-5678
Never leave your car running or the keys in the ignition when you're away from it, even for "just a minute."
Always roll up the windows and lock the car, even if it's in front of your home.
Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk or at least out of sight.
Remove portable electronic devices such as smart phones and GPS navigation systems, including suction cup or bean bag type mounts. (Even the visible appearance of a suction cup ring on the glass windshield can be an enticement to a thief to break in and look for the GPS system.)
Park in busy, well-lighted area.
Carry the registration and insurance card with you. Don't leave personal identification documents or credit cards in your vehicle.
When you pay to park in a lot or garage, leave just the ignition or valet key with the attendant. Make sure no personal information is attached. Do the same when you take your car for repairs.
Add Extra Protection:
Install a mechanical locking device — commonly called clubs, collars, or j-bars — that lock to the steering wheel, column, or brake to prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees. Use it!
Investigate security systems if you live in a high-theft area or drive an automobile that's an attractive target for thieves. You may get a discount on your auto insurance.
What About Carjacking:
Carjacking - stealing a car by force - has captured headlines in the last few years. Statistically, your chances of being a carjacking victim are very slim, and preventive actions can reduce the risk even more.
Etch the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the windows, doors, fenders, and trunk lid. This helps discourage professional thieves who have to either remove or replace etched parts before selling the car. Copy the VIN and your tag number on a card and keep it in a safe place. If your vehicle is stolen, the police need this information.
Approach you car with the key in hand before getting in. Look around and inside before getting in.
When driving, keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up at all times.
Be especially alert at intersections, gas stations, ATM's, shopping malls, convenience and grocery stores — all are windows of opportunity for carjackers.
Park in well-lighted areas with good visibility, close to walkways, stored, and people.
If the carjacker has a weapon, give up the car with no questions asked. your life is worth more than a car.
Tips on how to avoid car break-ins:
Do not leave valuables in plain view.
Do not leave windows or sunroof open.
Do not leave doors unlocked.
Do not leave keys in the vehicle.
Do not leave the garage door opener in plain view.
Do not leave out items with personal information.
Do not move valuable items to the trunk while in public view.
Slow Down and use common sense before you leave your car.