ICE – In Case of Emergency – and Cell Phones

ICE, how scammers take money from your bank account, and more: Internet ScamBusters #147

Today’s issue is short but very important. We cover three Snippets:

– ICE your cell phone

– Two new ways scammers can take money out of your bank account

– Is it illegal for US citizens to participate in foreign lotteries?

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OK. Time to get started…

ICE your cell phone

ICE is an acronym that stands for “in case of emergency,” and it is a new idea that started in April and is spreading around the world.

After the London bombings, emergency workers had no idea which of the many phone numbers listed in cell phones of the injured and dead should be called.

The idea, which we understand was conceived by Bob Brotchie, a British paramedic, is to insert the word ICE before the people you’d like called in case of an emergency. That way, paramedics and other emergency workers will know whom to call.

For example, let’s say you want your husband, Steve Smith, and your mother, Jane Simon, to be called if there is an emergency. Your cell phone entries might be: ICE-Steve Smith and ICE-Mom Jane Simon.

Most paramedics now know what ICE means and they look for it. This saves them time, so your loved ones are contacted more quickly.

Tip: Always place ICE before more than one name in your cell phone in case the first person doesn’t answer right away. You can even use ICE1, ICE2, ICE3… to designate the order you’d like the paramedic to call people.

Added benefit: If you lose your cell phone and someone honest finds it, they’ll have more options of whom to call to get the phone back to you.

Action: Enter ICE before several names in your cell phone right now.

Two new ways scammers can take money out of your bank account

There are a number of ways for scammers to get money out of your bank account. One recent way is after the scammers get your bank account number (perhaps by stealing a check or a statement, or simply by having you write them a check), they can create unauthorized demand drafts.

Demand drafts are usually used to allow firms to make withdrawals from your account without you having to write a check each time. However, scammers are now creating phony demand drafts and using them to take money out of innocent people’s bank accounts.

Another method scammers are using to steal money from bank accounts is to print fraudulent checks based on the information on your check. Desktop publishing makes this quite easy.

Actions to take to protect yourself: Keep your checks in a safe spot. Be very careful whom you write a check to — once you’ve written someone a check, they then have all of your bank account information (except your password). Carefully review your bank statement regularly for unauthorized checks and transfers.

Is it illegal for US citizens to participate in foreign lotteries?

We heard from several law enforcement officials that there is an important point to add to our answer in last week’s question about foreign lotteries.

Here’s an example of the email we received that makes this point:

— Begin legitimate email

As a Police Officer who teaches identity theft prevention, I am often asked whether a particular foreign lottery is legitimate, or a scam.

The simple answer is that they are ALL scams. It is illegal to engage in the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail.

Therefore, NO legitimate lottery is going to be contacting you or soliciting your business from a foreign country.

Don’t let greed prevail over common sense in these situations!

— End legitimate email

This is correct. According to the FTC, “it’s illegal for U.S. citizens to enter foreign sweepstakes and lotteries.”

Action: Delete all foreign lottery emails and throw away foreign lottery faxes and letters.

Time to close for this week. Please ICE your phone and be careful with your checks. See you next week.