HPD To Target Katrina Debit Card Scammers
September 15, 2005 -- The Houston
Police Department Burglary and Theft Division has organized a
task force designed to specially address the potential problems
associated with the use and misuse of F.E.M.A. and American Red
Cross Debit Cards. The task force will be called the Katrina Debit
Card Fraud Task Force made up of investigators who have expertise
in reactive and proactive cases pertaining to thefts involving
debit cards, credit cards and check fraud.
The task force was created to deal with possible
abuses related to the extremely large number of relief debit cards
and checks being issued in Houston over the past week. This proactive
measure is designed to reduce the incidences of cases expected
to accompany the usage of debit cards by hurricane survivors and
the criminal element that seeks to prey on their circumstances.
"Our goal is to make those who are legitimately seeking assistance
feel safe and to discourage those who want to take advantage of
the situation and the survivors," said HPD Burglary and Theft
Lieutenant C. Williams. "We will also be on the look out
for folks who are using fraudulent identification in an attempt
to obtain checks or cards illegally."
Investigators will be working closely with the
representatives from the American Red Cross and F.E.M.A. to identify
those seeking to illegally obtain financial assistance. HPD also
reminds hurricane survivors they need to watch out possible dangers.
1. Guard your personal information as best as
possible. Don't share your Social Security card numbers, birth
certificate or date of birth information. Keep your personal information
as private as possible.
2. Be aware of your surroundings and what's going
on around you. Stay alert to anyone attempting to look over your
shoulder to obtain your password while using your credit or debit
3. When using your credit/debit card, always block the view of
the keyboard with your hand or body and do not enter the PIN number
if others can see the screen.
4. Predators are aware Katrina survivors recently
received a debit card from FEMA and the American Red Cross, and
the amount of money on it.
5. Once your transaction is complete, put the
money away and leave immediately. Do not stand there and count
AW/ NJM 9-15-05
For additional information, please
contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.