Beware of Tax Scams

taxscams+irsIt’s that time of year again and tax time is fast approaching.  With that it mind the scammers will be out in full force attempting to steal your money and identity.

Scammers  will  try  to convince you to pay them money for owed taxes or requesting payment (money up front) for a tax return.  They may even ask for personal information to “verify” your identity so they can complete their offer to help.

Like before, scammers are going to use threats such as you have a warrant for your arrest and the police are coming to get you, or they are watching your house.  These are all false and should be reported to the police and  IRS as soon as possible.

Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals.

The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door

Join Us On Nextdoor.com

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So far, over 9,000 Wichita Falls residents have joined the Wichita Falls Police Department on Nextdoor.com to get to know their neighbors and to take a stand against crime.  Are you one of them?  If not, please visit http://www.nextdoor.com and sign up. It’s free and simple.  Iphone and Android apps are also available.

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Here is what Nextdoor.com is all about:

Nextdoor is the private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it’s free.

Thousands of neighborhoods nationwide are already using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home.

People are using Nextdoor to:

  • Quickly get the word out about a break-in.
  • Organize a neighborhood watch group.
  • Track down a trustworthy babysitter.
  • Find out who does the best paint job in town.
  • Ask for help keeping an eye out for a lost dog.
  • Find a new home for an outgrown bike.
  • Finally call that nice man down the street by his first name.

Nextdoor’s mission is to use the power of technology to build stronger and safer neighborhoods.

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Forward to Police Feature

As Wichita Falls residents continue to use technology to communicate and
collaborate with each other, we are always looking for ways to innovate and make our relationship even stronger and Nextdoor helps facilitate that.  As a proactive and innovative agency, we are constantly finding ways to help make Wichita Falls’ neighborhoods even stronger and safer places to call home for our
residents.
A few months ago, we were excited to announce that we launched “Forward to Police”, a new feature on Nextdoor that allowed residents to send crime and safety information directly to the police department with a click of a button.  This new feature is allowing our department to better communicate with residents about topics of concern in their neighborhood on Nextdoor:
  • Forward to Police is an excellent way to help our department continue to stay informed
  • about the things that matter most to Wichita Falls neighborhoods and work more closely with our residents.
  • With Forward to Police, Wichita Falls residents are able to forward their Crime & Safety posts and Urgent Alerts on Nextdoor directly to the Wichita Falls Police Department.
  • It’s important to note that the Wichita Falls Police Department cannot access residents’ websites, contact information, or content, unless it is a Crime and Safety post or Urgent Alert that is forwarded to them via Forward to Police.
  • The Forward to Police feature is not an emergency reporting system. Residents are encouraged to call 911 in the case of an emergency.
Nextdoor has already been a successful communications tool for the Wichita Falls Police
Department. We look forward to our residents using Forward to Police as yet another tool
to connect with us and work together to make Wichita Falls an even better place to call home.
We partnered with Nextdoor in 2015 to help improve city-wide and
neighbor-to-neighbor communications. This is yet another way to use Nextdoor to
garner valuable feedback from our residents. We have always invested in crime prevention efforts and we are excited that Nextdoor will enable more residents across Wichita Falls to easily participate in a modern,virtual neighborhood watch. Forward to Police will help us identify residents’ concerns around crime and safety across Wichita Falls and work with residents to address them.
Join Nextdoor Today!!!

Planning to travel this holiday season? Check out our 4 travel safety tips!

christmas car travel- happy kids travel in winter natureAAA estimates that 1 in 3 Americans will be traveling this holiday season. If you’re one of those people who will be hitting the road, we encourage you to take a few minutes to review these safety tips:

1. Make sure your home is secure. If you have an alarm system, check the batteries, and don’t forget to enable the alarm before you leave. Consider having a friend or neighbor check in on your home while you’re away. You can always set your home up for a vacation patrol check by going here: https://wfpdnow.com/vacationcheck/

2. If you’re planning to travel by car, get your car inspected and/or serviced before your trip. Prepare an emergency kit which should include jumper cables, flares or a reflective triangle, an ice scraper, a blanket, a cell phone charger, and a map. Plan your drive ahead of time and know alternative routes.

3. If you’ll be traveling by plane, review TSA’s travel tips: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips. Share your itinerary with friends and family, and don’t forget to pack a small emergency kit that includes a flashlight, batteries, and a USB power bank.

4. If you’ll be traveling with a pet, be sure to add a few items to your emergency kit such as water and pet food. You may also want to consider including a toy or blanket to help alleviate stress.

Don’t Be Left Out in the Cold

Vehicle exhaust pipe in winterAs the morning temperatures continue to get colder the Wichita Falls Police Department would like to remind drivers not to leave their cars running and unattended.  In most cases not only is this against the law but it will also increase your chances of becoming a victim of theft or burglary.

There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of losing your vehicle or belongings to an opportunistic thief:

  • STAY WITH THE CAR. It’s better to be cold for a few minutes in your car while it warms up than to be left in the cold while the thief drives it away.
  • LOCK THE DOORS. If unattended locking your doors will decrease the opportunity for the criminal to strike.
  • TAKE YOUR KEYS.  Don’t hide your keys on or in the vehicle; thieves know where to look.
  • HIDE YOUR BELONGINGS.  If leaving property in the vehicle hiding it will help reduce the risk of a burglary or vehicle theft.

For more information on the law click here.

10 tips for using ATMs safely

Man using his credit card in an atm for cash withdrawalHere are our top 10 ATM safety tips. Please take a moment to read and share with neighbors, friends, and family.

  1. Always pay close attention to the ATM and your surroundings. Don’t select an ATM at the corner of a building — corners create a blind spot. Use an ATM located near the center of a building. Do your automated banking in a public, well-lighted location that is free of shrubbery and decorative partitions or dividers.
  2. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. Be wary of people trying to help you with ATM transactions. Be aware of anyone sitting in a parked car nearby. When leaving an ATM, make sure you are not being followed. If you are, drive or walk immediately to a police or fire station, or to a crowded, well-lighted location or business. If you feel you are in danger, call 911!
  3. Do not use an ATM that appears unusual looking or offers options with which you are not familiar or comfortable.
  4. Do not allow people to look over your shoulder as you enter your PIN. Memorize your PIN; never write it on the back of your card. Do not re-enter your PIN if the ATM eats your card — contact a bank official.
  5. Do not wear expensive jewelry or take other valuables to the ATM. This is an added incentive to the assailant.
  6. Never count cash at the machine or in public. Wait until you are in your car or another secure place.
  7. When using a drive-up ATM, keep your engine running, your doors locked and leave enough room to maneuver between your car and the one ahead of you in the drive-up line.
  8. Maintain a supply of deposit envelopes at home or in your car. Prepare all transaction paperwork prior to your arrival at the ATM. This will minimize the amount of time spent at the machine.
  9. Closely monitor your bank statements, as well as your balances, and immediately report any problems to your bank.
  10. If you are involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands your money, COMPLY.

SCAM ALERT

Scam AlertRecently, some local residents have received a phone call from someone claiming to be a “detective” from our agency. The “detective” is phishing for information and the caller ID is showing 940-720-5000, which is our non-emergency number. However, we want you to know that no legitimate call will ever come from our agency showing that number. If you receive a similar call, please do not give the scammers any information and hang up the phone.

If you feel that you have already been a victim of this scam, please call our Financial Crimes Unit at 940-761-7762.

Vehicle Burglaries

Relay-car-theft-keyless-entry-cars-885216The Wichita Falls Police Department observed an alarming crime trend in our community back in May of this year.  Officers were seeing an increase in vehicle burglaries.  Aside from the crime itself officers were finding that the vehicles that were broken into showed no signs of forced entry and firearms were left unsecure.

Between May 7th and May 20th 45 vehicles were entered into and 12 firearms were stolen.  Of those vehicles that were entered into none of them showed signs of forced entry.

With the help of local media getting the word out to the public regarding the need to keep firearms secured and vehicles locked along with an aggressive proactive police response that resulted in multiple arrests the WFPD has seen a decrease in vehicle burglaries.

Between July 16th and July 29th 16 vehicles were entered into with two firearms stolen.  Of those vehicles that were entered into none of them showed signs of forced entry.  That is a 64% decrease in vehicle burglaries compared to the two weeks reported in May.

Although, it is a positive to see the number of vehicle burglaries decreasing the WFPD would still like to remind everyone to lock their vehicles and secure their firearms.  When encountering a locked vehicle criminals most often leave it and go looking for an easier target.  Never leave a firearm unsecured in a vehicle.  An unsecured firearm can become the weapon that hurts or kills an innocent victim.

It’s That Time of Year Again

back_to_schoolChildren in Wichita Falls and surrounding communities will be returning to school in the next few days. We would like to  remind drivers to be extra cautious as school zones become more active and be aware of school buses that will be making frequent stops.

Following these simple tips can help children reach school safely and help drivers avoid costly fines and tickets.

Tips for Driving in School Zones

  • Put away your cell phone and anything else that may be distracting you as you drive.  A distracted driver is a dangerous driver.
  • Always obey school zone speed limit signs. Remember, traffic fines usually double in school zones.
  • Drop off and pick up your children in your school’s designated areas, not the middle of the street.
  • Keep an eye on children gathered at bus stops.
  • Be alert for children who might dart across the street or between vehicles on their way to school.

Tips for Children Walking or Biking to School

  • Always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks. Look left, right and then left again before proceeding.
  • Look for traffic when stepping off a bus or from behind parked cars.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Always obey crossing guards.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.

WFPD Supports Nextdoor.com as Virtual Neighborhhood Watch Platform

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So far, over 8,000 Wichita Falls residents have joined the Wichita Falls Police Department on Nextdoor.com to get to know their neighbors and to take a stand against crime.  Are you one of them?  If not, please visit http://www.nextdoor.com and sign up.  It’s free and simple.  Iphone and Android apps are also available.

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Here is what Nextdoor.com is all about:

Nextdoor is the private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. It’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it’s free.

Thousands of neighborhoods nationwide are already using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home.

People are using Nextdoor to:

  • Quickly get the word out about a break-in.
  • Organize a neighborhood watch group.
  • Track down a trustworthy babysitter.
  • Find out who does the best paint job in town.
  • Ask for help keeping an eye out for a lost dog.
  • Find a new home for an outgrown bike.
  • Finally call that nice man down the street by his first name.

Nextdoor’s mission is to use the power of technology to build stronger and safer neighborhoods.

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Join Nextdoor Today!!!

Know What’s Going on Around You: RAIDSONLINE

unnamedThe Wichita Falls Police Department would like to remind everyone of a free program that is designed to keep you, the citizen, informed of what’s going on around you as it relates to police activity; RAIDSONLINE.

RAIDSONLINE  is an analytical information system.  The WFPD keeps records about incidents that occur within the jurisdiction. When an incident happens, the responding officer  writes a report with information about the event including the location, people, related vehicles and other useful information.  The information is then shared at www.raidsonline.com and is updated on a regular basis for accuracy.

You can easily search for information on nearby criminal activity.

Analytical layers show how crime relates to other factors such as date, time, location type of crime, etc .

RAIDSONLINE helps the public get a better idea of the crime activity in their area so they can make more informed decisions about how to stay safe. RAIDS crime map  connects law enforcement with the community to help reduce crime and improve public safety.

RAIDSONLINE is a web based program but it is also available as a free app download.