Cambridge Police Chief speaks about personal security, fraud
— On Friday, Feb. 3, Cambridge Police Chief Dan Dvorak spoke to the Cambridge Woman’s Club about ensuring the security of personal information.
Just in time for Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, Feb. 7, Dvorak warned of various ways scammers and thieves target victims and steal property or information for nefarious purposes. Examples included telephone calls, email links, social media, and more.
“You can become victimized so quickly just by a telephone call,” Dvorak said. “They can be so convincing. There are a lot of bad people out there who want to prey on individuals of all age groups, but what I see, mostly, is the landline as one of the premier ways to become a victim of fraud.”
One scam Dvorak has encountered several times is a caller that threatens the safety of a loved one unless
money is given. A guest at the meeting said she had experienced a version this with someone pretending to be her grandson. In this situation, he said, it is always best to call 911.
“Email is another difficult one,” Dvorak said. “It’s so easy to get an email that’s not from who you think it was. People try to say ‘We need to reset your account online. Can you please enter your username and password?’ The logos that they put in the email are so realistic, that you want to believe it.”
His tip was to always log into your account directly through the website of the company trying to contact you, and check your secure account for alerts, as opposed to clicking on a link in an email.
A secure website is identified by ‘https’ preceding the web address near the top of the page.
Facebook and other social media Dvorak referred to as a double-edged sword. While it is a valuable form of communication, especially when trying to reach younger generations, security is a risk when sharing personal information online.
“I have enjoyed Facebook. As the chief, I’ve been able to put out a lot of information,” Dvorak said. “I have 5,000 people who follow what I say on Facebook, and I have another 1,000 people on Twitter. It’s a nice communication tool.”
Dvorak also answered questions about the risk of theft of physical items and protecting your home from break-ins.
He suggested setting up a web-enabled camera to record at the front door, and getting to know your neighbors.
“When you get involved and know your neighbors, you know when something is wrong,” Dvorak said.
The Cambridge Alliance of Neighborhoods is a program in the city that is actively working to bring neighborhoods together in awareness by recruiting block captains and starting neighborhood watch groups.
Nextdoor.com is a free, online ser vice that connects you with neighbors to share messages and keep an eye out for one another. As police chief, Dvorak has special access and is able to share information –such as fraud or weather safety alerts – with anyone in the city who is signed up for the service.
“My message to you is if you think something doesn’t look right, call us,” he said. We’re happy to respond. If anything is fishy, call 911 and get an officer to help you verify the information. We have good technology, so take advantage of it.”
CHIEF DANIEL DVORAK