Several Iowa schools closed after parents receive threatening text messages

JOHNSTON, Iowa (WHO) — Johnston Police say after investigating overnight, there are “no credible threats” of violence related to the text threats many Johnston School District parents received Monday night.

Classes were canceled Tuesday as a safety precaution. The district plans to resume classes Wednesday, a decision Superintendent Corey Lunn says he’s comfortable with.

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The Johnston Police Department is working with the FBI to further investigate the threats but has not determined their source at this point. Chief Dennis McDaniel says people can expect more threatening texts and phone calls however he says they will likely be from a different phone number. Authorities urge those who receive messages to not respond and instead report the messages and the phone number to police. Officials are also encouraging the public to seek their information from a credible source, as information shared on social media may not always be accurate.

The police department says it also plans to reach out to metro police chiefs to brief them on the investigation should threats me made within their city. It is not clear if investigators believe hackers are tied to the threats however McDaniel says, ” cyber crime is among us and is not unique to Johnston, the metro or Iowa.” Officials are calling the investigation technical, adding it will take time to sort through.

In a press release on Tuesday evening, Chief McDaniel said, “The Johnston Police Department will put full effort into preserving the safety and security of our community and its most precious resource – our children.”

Police are also advising people to take steps to protect their identity and personal information against cybercrimes. The following suggestions were sent in the press release from Chief McDaniel.

  • Change passwords frequently while ensuring they are strong and secure; utilize different passwords for different accounts.
  • Only give your social security number (SSN) when it is necessary and keep your SSN card in a secure location – do not carry it in your wallet.
  • Keep items with personal information in a safe place and either shred or tear them up when you do not need.
  • Order a copy of your credit report from each credit-reporting agency.
  • Before revealing personal financial information, find out whom you are dealing with, how the information will be used, and if it will be shared with others.
  • Verify your credit card and credit union statements each month for unauthorized charges or suspicious activity.
  • Photocopy financial and insurance cards you carry in your wallet (front and back) and keep original copies in a safe place – in the event your wallet is lost or stolen.

To secure your identity, you can request a copy of a credit report from the following credit bureaus.

There are also additional fee-based subscription services to consider should an individual be at a heightened risk of cyber intrusion.

two-hour late start has been scheduled for all Johnston schools on Wednesday, October 4th.

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