SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department is taking action to prevent people from becoming victims of fraud.

In a press release to the Canyon News, the SMPD noted that fraud is an act of deception that is used in order to gain personal information, such as a Social Security number or bank account information, that leads to identity theft, loss of funds, and disruption of credit.

Fraud can be committed through internet, phone, mail, and media. The SMPD is alerting residents that the key to understanding fraud is knowing that it can happen to anyone and taking measures to protect oneself against it.

The SMPD is focusing on fraud that is done through phone and email, known as phishing. Phishing is a form of fraud that is committed by obtaining one’s personal information, like credit card numbers, computer usernames and passwords by way of email and phone.

Phishing occurs when an innocent looking email is sent to the victim’s email account and it is clicked on. There are also emails that seem to be important and require immediate action be the receiver, like inheriting money from an unknown relative or winning money through a random drawing. The email asks for the victim’s bank account information in order to receive said money.

The Santa Monica Police Department wants to remind the public to take preventive actions in order to avoid being victims of fraud. Below is a list of actions that people can employ for their own safety.

-Do not reply to messages that require personal information or and do not send financial or personal information via email.

-Do not click on any links that seem suspicious. If you have questions about the link go directly to the industry’s website and log in directly or call a telephone number that you know is 100% genuine.

-Use caution when opening attachments or downloading files regardless of sender. Attachments and downloadable files can often contain viruses that can compromise the security system of your computer and personal information.

-Be aware: fraudulent emails usually contain spelling errors and employ poor use of grammar.

-Always be skeptical of unsolicited calls.

Anyone looking for information regarding fraudulent activity concerning email or phone is asked to contact the SMPD non-emergency number at (310) 458-8491.