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Protect Yourself from Fraud

Why should I care about fraud?

Fraud is a criminal offense that resulted in an estimated $600 billion in losses to the business community in calendar year 2002. Losses are passed on to consumers, taxpayers, and employees in the form of higher prices (or taxes) and reduced services or benefits. Fraud occurs everyday and in many ways.

Significant forms of fraud include the following:

  • Employee fraud - this includes the following:
    • Making personal purchases with the employer's money
    • Overstating expenses
    • Using payroll schemes, such as fictitious employees, unearned overtime pay, false workers' compensation reports
    • Skimming money from sales, purchases
    • Falsifying sales, voids, and refunds
    • Forging checks

  • Identity fraud - identity thieves use credit card and checking account information to establish new accounts in an unsuspecting person's name. This creates an identity crisis that can take months to detect, and even longer to unravel.
  • Computer fraud - knowingly and with intent to defraud, accessing a protected computer without authorization, or which exceeds authorized access.
  • Insurance fraud is an $80-billion crime wave and includes the following:
    • Staged auto accidents
    • Arson
    • Health insurance fraud (both corporate - individual)
    • Property insurance (inflated insurance claims)
    • Faked death
    • Murder for insurance
    • Insurer fraud (insurer insolvency caused by insider fraud)

  • Tax fraud - although not all-inclusive, listed below are some of the criminal activities in violations of the tax laws:
    • Deliberately underreporting or omitting income
    • Overstating the amount of deductions
    • Keeping two sets of books
    • Making false entries in books and records
    • Claiming personal expenses as business expenses
    • Claiming false deductions
    • Hiding or transferring assets or income

  • Insider dealing refers to buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, nonpublic information about the security.
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What should I do to prevent from becoming a victim of identity theft?

Purchase a shredder-use it to destroy information you no longer need, such as credit cards, billing statements, or approved credit card offers, etc. Whenever possible, try to remove incoming mail from your mailbox as soon as possible, and place outgoing mail in a post office collection (mail) box. Try to not carry additional copies of birth certificates, social security cards, credit cards, etc. Make sure you know how any of your personal information will be used before giving it out.

Always report suspicious activity or persons to your local Police department.

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What should I do if I believe I am the victim of fraud?

Contact the Clearwater Police Department (CPD) non-emergency line at 562-4242, or your local police department.

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What should I do if I suspect dishonest or fraudulent activity regarding a City of Clearwater employee, vendor, or contractor?

Please contact the City Auditor at 562-4550. Callers may remain anonymous if they wish. We will treat all matters, comments, and persons reporting possible fraudulent or dishonest activity in a very confidential manner.

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