There is possibly no bigger fear than that of a parent who thinks his or her child may be in danger. And whether or not a child is actually in harm’s way doesn’t minimize the potential for serious harm in everyone’s minds, which is what scammers are counting on.

There has been repeated statistical data gathering over the years, all leading to reports that children are actually in no more danger from predators and kidnappers than they were in previous generations. But the double-edged 

sword of great life-saving tools like Amber Alerts and instant news crawlers is that we now hear about so many cases of crimes against children, many of which we never would have known about if not for the information age we live in.

With this access to news and with websites offering information about threats in our immediate vicinities, it can feel like these kinds of crimes are on the rise. So it’s no wonder that scammers have hit us where it hurts the most: in our fears for our families’ safety. A phishing email that’s making the rounds right now plays on our fears of “questionable” individuals in our neighborhoods, and offers to reveal the names and street addresses of sex offenders or other convicted felons living in our area…if we just click the link.

There are a few characteristics of these emails that should be a dead giveaway that they’re not authentic. 

  1. The grammar is usually poor and the wording is unusually enticing or gimmicky.
  2. Hovering your mouse over the sender’s email shows an email address that is not legitimate.
  3. The most telling sign of a phishing email is the “click this link” direction, as you will be taken to a website that will either install malicious software on your computer or ask you for a lot of highly sensitive personal information. 

All of those scenarios are possible, and they’re designed to steal your identity.

Don’t fall victim to a phishing attempt, no matter what the scammers appear to be offering you in return. If you feel like the email could be referring to a genuine threat about a registered sex offender, for example, who is actually moving to your area, your local law enforcement agency is required to notify you should the individual live within so many miles of you. Of course, there are also websites already in place where you can enter just your address and see the locations on a map of known convicted predators. If you receive an email and just aren’t sure whether you should ignore it or not, simply delete the email to be safe, then go to a search website yourself to enter your private information.

Phishing emails only work if they can lure us into falling for their ploys, so be prepared for attempts that are more and more severe, and even more alarming in nature. Always remember that if you think there might be something to it, skip the email’s link and go directly to the source of information yourself.

To read more Current Scams and Alerts, visit the ITRC website.


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