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Agencies Warn Public of Potential Katrina-Related Scams

September 13, 2005 -- In the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the Houston Police Department and other law enforcement agencies want to remind citizens of their heightened risk of becoming victims of fraud, identity theft and scams.

There are individuals who use traumatic events such as this one to prey on the survivors of Katrina, as well as compassionate citizens who want to help them. HPD wants to offer helpful tips that citizens can use to avoid becoming victims.

* Do not make a donation over the Internet to the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army as scam artists design fictitious Web sites that look legitimate to gain your credit information.

* Do not make a donation or provide your credit card information, personal information or bank routing number to anyone who initiates contact with you by phone, e-mail, or in person.

* 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 card.

* 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.

* Predators are aware Katrina survivors recently received a debit card from FEMA and the American Red Cross, and the amount of money on it.

* Once your transaction is complete, put the money away and leave immediately. Do not stand there and count your money.

Remember there are several local organizations such as the Houston Food Bank you can visit to make a donation or you can contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-HELP-NOW.

At this time, no citizens of Houston have reported being the victim of such a crime. However, if you suspect you have been the victim of a crime or your identity has been stolen, please contact your local law enforcement agency.


For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.