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Detective Robert Wylie is an expert in the area of Cybercrimes
and on this particular day he is explaining the dangers
of digital vulnerability; especially for persons less
familiar with computers and smartphones. That said, he
highlighted numerous other ways a person can be taken
advantage of in this new digital age.
Unfortunately, there are ways that criminals can access
our most private financial information without our ever
knowing we have been scammed. ATM machines, gasoline
pumps, emails, text messages and robocalls to your
land line and your cell phone.
Spoofing allows an individual to mask the actual number
they are calling from and make it appear to be from
your financial institution or a governmental agency. Billions
of dollars are stolen from unsuspecting and unaware
individuals every year. Often, once the spoofer is
successful, he or she will take only a few dollars at a time
over months and even years; going unnoticed because
of the small amount of money being taken, and usually
those individuals are doing their dirty work from another
country, making it virtually impossible to prosecute the
perpetrator once caught.
The overriding message is quite simple. Technology is
certainly a convenience as long as we are diligent about
how we use it and what possible dangers exist. There
have been suits against toy companies for “spying” on
children through digitally enhanced toys. There have been
concerns voiced that computer chips inside coffee pots,
digital assistants like Alexa and Echo are “always listening”
to our conversations, whether we are using them or
not. Smart phones track our comings and goings and can
tell us what our calling patterns are. Websites that look
like the real thing are actually clever copies designed to
fool us into giving out personal and financial information
and then using that information against us. And Social
Media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube,
Snapchat, Reddit, Tumbler, Kik, Tinder, Yik Yak, and untold
apps – all designed to share information and all with
dangerous pitfalls depending on who is using them and
why; that seem harmless at first glance.
By the same token, most of us zip around the Internet
on our computers, tablets, smartphones and other
devices; we interact with digitally enhanced services day
in and day out, and most of us have yet to experience a
violation of our privacy, or our finances. That truth lulls us
into a false sense of security that might lead us to think
these occurrences are few and far between when the exact
opposite is true.
Detective Wylie’s message is clear. If you are the least
bit suspicious – of an email, a website, a text, or phone
call. If you are interacting digitally, in any form, be sure
you know who or what is on the other end. And always
reach out when you are unsure. The Texas City Police
Department is there to prevent crimes from happening.
They need us to let them know when we come across
suspicious behavior. It is understandable that we hesitate
to call 911 about something we are not completely
sure is “wrong”. So put this number in our phone: 409-
948-2525 Day or night, Dispatch is there for you. Hesitation
often leads to Vexation so when you are unsure, don’t
hesitate. Take steps to find out what you are dealing with
and report suspicious activity – even when it is online.

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