Crime Prevention and Other Resources

Welcome to the Crime Prevention page! Scroll down for info on different topics. Check back as new topics will be added and information updated on a routine basis.

If you would like an officer to talk with you or your family, group or organization about any of the topics listed here please contact the Crime Prevention Coordinator, Officer Jeremy Ryal at 641-421-2716

 

Child and Teen Internet Safety

The Internet is a great place for kids, teens, and adults to connect with their world.  We can keep in touch with our families and friends, do school work, buy stuff we want and find out information about literally anything.

However, this powerful tool of connectedness has its dark sides.  In addition to frauds and thefts that occur, predators use the Internet to seek out children to harm.  Children are kidnapped, lured into compromising situations, or otherwise exploited each day.  According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) as of April of 2015, the NCMEC CyberTipline has received over 4.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation  since it was launched in 1998. If you have information regarding possible child sexual exploitation or if you have been a victim you can report it to the CyberTipline or contact the police department for help.

Here are a few links to good information for parents and kids to keep safe on the internet:

NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

NetSmartz Workshop – A program of NCMEC with educational safety resources for children age 5 to 17.

Safekids.com and connectsafely.org  

Keeping Children Safe Online

StaySafeOnline

Tips for Safe Browsing

The biggest key to Internet safety for our kids is to stay engaged - keep talking with them ask the tough questions. Let them know you are interested in what they are doing and you want to help them be responsible and safe digital citizens.

 

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Avoiding Scams and other Fraud

Unfortunately, scams have become very common.  Con artists and other criminals use a wide variety of schemes to try to trick us out of our money.  We’ve taken reports of phone calls from a supposed grandchild in trouble asking for a grandparent’s help;  Calls from the utility company threatening to cut off power unless an “overdue” bill is paid immediately;  Calls from the IRS threatening arrest if late taxes are not immediately paid.  We’ve seen scams that are technology driven such as fraudulent emails, faked websites, or internet auction fraud.  We’ve even seen computer viruses that lock up a computer until a ransom is paid.  The list could go on and on…

While it would be impossible to list every type of scam, if we recognize some common elements and exercise common sense, we can avoid most of them.

  • Promise of Easy Money – You might be promised foreign lottery winnings from a contest you never entered, a potential windfall from someone you’ve never met who is asking for your help, or a “free” prize that requires you to pay a fee before you can collect.  The lure of unbelievable profits can make us act before we can think clearly about what is being offered.   If a caller is promising easy money, ask yourself if what is being offered makes sense. 
  • Pressure to Act Now – Often you will be encouraged to act now or lose out on a great, no-risk offer.  Perhaps the sales person is just using high pressure tactics to try to gain your purchase.  However, if the sales person is getting angry with you or attempting to bully you in some fashion, it is more than just a hard sell.  The pressure is designed to trigger an emotional response which could lead you to acting before you think.
  • Poorly worded websites, emails or texts – Scam websites and emails such as phishing emails which mimic emails from legitimate businesses will often have wrong spelling and bad grammar.  Scam emails may be missing information in the header, especially in the subject line, or have addresses that don’t match real business email addresses.  Real companies using emails and texts to communicate with you are spending lots of money to communicate clearly with you and their messages will look professional.  If it looks or sounds sloppy, it is probably a scam.
  • Payment through untraceable transactions – Any time you are told you can only pay through an untraceable method such as wiring money or prepaid credit cards, you should doubt the legitimacy of the deal.  This is especially true when the person you are dealing with will only communicate with your through email or text messages but not by phone or in person.
  • Unsolicited Deals – those “to good to be true” deals can come through email, phone calls, or even text messages.  If someone is offering you something out of the blue remember to ask yourself why that someone would pick you.

Often scams can be spotted because they include more than one of the above listed elements. Keep in mind scammers are very creative and very convincing so always take your time when dealing with someone who wants your hard earned money. 

  • Links to government and commercial websites with more information about scams:

Iowa Attorney General: Consumer Tips & Information

FBI: Be Crime Smart: Scams & Safety

Federal Trade Commission: Scam Alerts and OnGuardOnline

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): Latest E-Scams and Warnings

Alliant Energy: Service Disconnection Scam information

Craigslist: Avoiding Scams

Ebay: Sellers Fraud Prevention Tips

Paypal: PayPal Fraud or Scams

The Simple Dollar: Protecting Against Credit Card Fraud

 

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Not seeing what you were looking for? Click HERE for lots of other good stuff to help you out.  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics contact Officer Jeremy Ryal at 641-421-2716.

 

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