Article Courtesy of Mary Madison
The Jefferson County Retired Educators Association (JCREA) Unit received a valuable lesson at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8, from Jefferson County Sheriff Mac McNeill, who came to educate the group on the recent “Scam-Gas Pump Skimming” and other ways tech-savvy scammers can gain access to your data and money.
He first informed credit and debit card users, who use their cards at the gas pump, that they can be vulnerable to skimmers. Then he offered measures that can be made to help avoid being skimmed: refrain from using a card, as it is much easier and quicker for predators to read data from your card.
He suggests, when possible, going inside to pay with your card. Try to use pumps closest to the doors – culprits are less likely to use skim methods on pumps that are highly visible. Always be vigilant of your surroundings for suspicious characters and actions.
Many were awed when Sheriff McNeill revealed other technical methods scammers can use to gain access to your data and money. The most common method is through your smartphone, especially for those who do online transactions like banking, paying bills and placing orders – anything that uses a pin number or password. Other smartphone scamming can be done through your email and Facebook. Home scams can be done through your landline phone and alarm and even your car key alarm. Awareness and caution become extremely important in our technological world.
Sheriff McNeill stated that he had made all the suggestions and warnings he could to help victims avoid being skimmed and scammed, but in reality we must take an actual, personal role – ask questions, research, and follow up on given advice.
He recommended investing in a reputable Life Lock or Equifax program, but most importantly, use “the psycological process” – be aware of all your actions, look out for suspicious behavior, and follow your gut feelings. If someone or something does not feel right, take heed and report possible skimmers and scammers.
Accompanying Sheriff McNeill was Jefferson County Crime Victim Advocate Marie Rigdon, who made welcomed interjections during Sheriff McNeill's presentation. Her role and focus was all about crime victims.
Her opening statement was: “If you or someone you know are ever a crime victim or feel victimized, no matter the age, don't hesitate to call me, even if you're not sure a crime has occurred or been committed.” She reinforced Sheriff McNeill's request for citizens to be mindful and aware.
Rigdon also implied that her advocacy extends beyond actual crimes, but crime-related circumstances – be it grievance, indignation, protest, hardship, harm, distress, sorrow or simple support.
Sheriff McNeill and Rigdon emphasized the need for help within the various organizations in the County who are empowering our youth and parents to prevent crimes and promoting positive relationships with our law enforcement systems, school system and community. All of which helps stop, curtail and prevent crimes.
JCREA Unit is grateful to Sheriff McNeill and Rigdon for their magnificent and valuable lessons, and for agreeing to make a return visit anytime.
Sheriff McNeill jokingly but seriously stated “Within the next six months there could be more scams, and I want to keep you all informed.”