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Fraud specialists discuss prevention, protection

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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Heather Brooks and Kim Fults from the fraud prevention department of First National Bank of Livingston presented the program for the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce’s final Lunch & Learn of the year held Nov. 28.

“Fraud is not just a big city problem. It’s an everywhere problem. No matter where you bank, your bank will have a website and a mobile app. You need to check it daily,” Heather Reed said, informing the group that one of the latest scams is called check-washing. “They’re stealing them out of mailboxes and from the post office and washing the ‘payable to’ portion.

“You can help prevent check washing by being proactive. Set up mobile apps and online banking alerts,” Reed said.

Kim Fults addressed debit card fraud, commenting that two of the biggest are ‘free’ and ‘chance to win’ claims, where an item is allegedly free and the consumer only has to pay shipping but the fine print (which most people do not read) indicates the consumer is agreeing to a subscription. Similar scams are various sweepstakes, often offering chances to win an iPhone, she said.

Go to a reputable site to check it out because they (the scammers) are always going to sign you up for more,” Fults said, also mentioning the gift card scam where someone purports to offer some type of service or reward to you, but you must first purchase a number of gift cards and provide the card numbers to them.

Another scam often perpetrated is convincing people to be money mules who unknowingly transfer illegally obtained funds.

“A scammer likes to have different layers. We want to be careful. We want to warn our parents, our grandparents, our teenage kids.”

Fults said other scams are romance scams and elder financial exploitation, which is the act or process of taking advantage of an elderly person through manipulation, coercion or deception for financial or personal gain.

“There are three ways to prevent this – educate yourself, recognize and spot the warning signs. It’s up to all of us to report it so we can prosecute. It is our responsibility to help. Scams and elder exploitation can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. Freeze your card and watch your account,” Fults said.

“Gone are the days of getting your statement at the end of the month and checking it. You have to check your statement daily,” she said, adding that FNB posts little tips every Friday on all social media platforms.

“Pay your bills electronically. Try not to write checks period. Set mobile alerts. Share information with your family, your friends, your siblings. Set up mobile banking,” Fults recommended.

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LISD joins other districts, schools in opposition to vouchers

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Livingston ISD LogoFrom Enterprise Staff

The Board of Trustees of the Livingston Independent School District recently joined a coalition of other East Texas school districts, approving a resolution expressing opposition to educational savings accounts, more commonly known as vouchers.

Through the resolution, the ISDs are united in calling on Texas legislators to fully fund public schools at the national average per pupil by increasing state weighted funding per pupil to $14,347 as a minimum standard. This would be an increase over the $11,400 that Livingston ISD currently receives per pupil.

The coalition is also calling on legislators to discuss, debate and vote on public school funding separately from any voucher debate, funding or legislation.

“Tying these two individual issues together is unfair to the 350,000 Texas teachers and the almost 5.5 million public school students who are being negatively impacted by these schemes,” the resolution states.

The board met in a special called meeting Nov. 27 for the purpose of holding a budget workshop. The resolution was the only action item from the called meeting.

The resolution states that “the current coordinated and deliberate attack on public schools in the State of Texas has created a need for unity amount ISDs.

“The Texas Constitution clearly charges the state legislature for providing the citizenry with a free quality public education and Texas public schools have been historically underfunded and are currently funded 43rd lowest out of the 50 U.S. states; and public schools in Texas produce learner outcomes that are consistently higher than the funding level, currently at 35th out of the 50 U.S states,” the resolution continues.

Higher-than-average levels of inflation since 2019 have led to deficit spending by many school districts and charter schools. Voucher schemes divert public funds to private entities, undermining the financial stability of public schools. Such voucher programs disproportionately benefit students from affluent families, leaving behind students from lower-income backgrounds and those with special needs, thereby exacerbating education inequalities.

Whereas, adequate funding would allow for smaller class sizes, expanded extracurricular opportunities, enhanced instructional resources and a diverse range of academic programs.

In addition to Livingston ISD, the other 45 ISDs and Texas Public Charter Schools – which combined represent over 71,000 students in East Texas – who have adopted the join resolution are: Arp ISD, Beckville ISD, Big Sandy ISD, Broaddus ISD, Brownsboro ISD, Carlisle ISD, Cayuga ISD, Center ISD, Central Heights ISD, Chireno ISD, Cumberland Academy, Cushing ISD, Douglass ISD, Elkhart ISD, Elysian Fields ISD, Excelsior ISD, Fruitvale ISD, Garrison ISD, Gary ISD, Hallsville ISD, Harmony ISD, Hawkins ISD, Hemphill ISD, Karnack ISD, LaPoyner ISD, Longview ISD, Lufkin ISD, Marshall ISD, Martinsville ISD, Mount Enterprise ISD, Murchison ISD, Nacogdoches ISD, New Summerfield ISD, Overton ISD, Panola Charter, Pine Tree ISD, Sabine ISD, San Augustine ISD, Spring Hill ISD, Tatum ISD, Trinidad ISD, Union Grove ISD, Waskom ISD, West Rusk ISD and White Oak ISD.

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The SPCA of Polk County recently opened The Clinic, which offers spay, neuter and wellness services to dogs and cats at its facility located at 802 S. Houston Ave. in Livingston. The SPCA of Polk County has a few openings for board members for 2024 and the deadline for applications is Dec. 11. Board meetings are held monthly and are a crucial part of running Polk County’s no-kill shelter. The election of new board members will occur at the annual membership meeting which is set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at First Presbyterian Church located 910 N. Washington in Livingston. Those interested in being on the board should send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and relevant documents will be sent to you. To make a donation to the SPCA of Polk County so that it can continue its mission to help dogs and cats find loving homes, please visit spcapolk.org/donate, call 936-755-3020 or mail donations to SPCA of Polk County, P.O. Box 1403, Livingston, TX 77351, or visit the facility at 802 S. Houston Ave. Livingston, TX 77351. The SPCA of Polk County is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit no-kill animal welfare organization (EIN: 74-2119232).  Courtesy Photo

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The Robert Rankin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated Native American History Month with Debrina Sylestine Dirden sharing the history of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Her daughter, Kalila Sylestine Dirden, modeled the traditional Indian attire. Debrina’s mother, Deborah, accompanied them. Regent Phyllis Harrell gave reports on the NSDAR National Defense Luncheon, the Veteran’s Day Celebration at Idlewild Subdivision and the National DAR Day of Service. (l-r) Kalila Sylestine Dirden, Debrina Sylestine Dirden and Phyllis Harrell.Courtesy photo

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The Livingston Lions Club is offering Christmas trees for sale, an annual tradition that is now in its 40th year. The highly successful project began when Lion Kent Colburn planted the trees on property in the Trinity River bottom at Romayor. After four years of growth to reach maturity, Colburn was not certain how to market them until he had a chance meeting with Lion Pete Mence. Mence suggested that the Livingston Lions Club set up a stand and sell them on a 50/50 basis. Colburn agreed and soon a team of Lion members went out to harvest and set them up for sale. The first location was a vacant lot west of Jackson’s Hardware on Church Street, and later moved to a spot next to Burger King. For the past 13 years, the club has, thanks to the generosity of The First National Bank, set up their Christmas tree corral in front of the bank on West Church Street. The club has trees available to the public. There are Scotch Pines for $40 each and a limited number of Blue Spruce trees for $60. Should you be interested in purchasing a tree or supporting the Livingston Lions Club, please contact the Club President, Lion Jared Jernigan, at (936) 433-0315. The operating hours for the Christmas tree lot are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday.  Shown here are Lions Ann Zeigler and Dr. Mike Shukan.Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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