Scam alerts top content - to change.

Can anything be more disheartening than to show up to a concert or sporting event with what you believe to be valid tickets, only to be told they are counterfeit and you’re denied entrance into the event? That special discounted price that you were able to negotiate may not seem so special anymore.

When tickets are in high demand, ticket sales escalate, but so do ticket scams.

Be cautious when purchasing event tickets from individuals, unless you personally know them and know the tickets to be valid. It might cost you more to purchase the tickets from the box office or TicketMaster, but at least you have more of a guarantee that the seats you purchased will be yours when you get to the event. If purchasing from a ticket broker, check that the broker is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) and the Better Business Bureau.

The Ticket Scam Resource Center, http://www.gocek.org/ticketscams/ , gives some excellent advice: When you enter a venue, keep your tickets. If someone approaches and states that you are in their seat, call an official over to rectify the situation. It also doesn’t hurt to bring any advance sale receipt with you to assist the employee in clearing up the matter. If you did not buy your ticket from a primary source, such as the box office or TicketMaster, accept the fact that it might be your ticket that is bogus. 

If you paid by credit card, your credit card company usually provides some sort of purchase protection and you should contact them directly to start the dispute process for the charge.

Please be mindful that there are sometimes time limits on these things. If the tickets were purchased in June for an event in August and you discover in August that the tickets were fake, take care of the situation with your credit card agency immediately, explaining the circumstances to them.

If you find that you are a victim of a ticket scam, you should of course report it to the police. Please note that you will probably get more attention from the police in the area in which you actually purchased the tickets. If the tickets were purchased from somewhere out of state, you might try notifying the FBI. If the tickets were purchased off of Craigslist or Ebay, or even through Facebook, please report it to them so that they may look into the situation as well. The Colorado Attorney General’s Office might be able to assist as well. 

Scam Date: 

January, 2013

Related Links: 

The Ticket Scam Resource Center

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Although I put out an alert last month on charitable donations, I am once again writing this month on the same topic since Hurricane Sandy has left a trail of devastation.

Although charity scams have been around for a long time, they take center stage right after a disaster has struck, such as fires, tornados, tsunamis and most recently a hurricane. These are the times that thieves like to play upon people's emotions.

After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigations estimated that there were over 2300 charitable websites that popped up. Most of the sites were fake and originated outside of the United States. I am sure there will be just as many, if not more, fake websites set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last week.

Many fake charities will often name their organization something closely related to a well-known legitimate organization. These everyday thieves have also been known to use a legitimate organization's logos for their own personal gain. You must take the time to check out these charities to not only keep your personal information safe, but also to be sure the money is going where you are wishing it to and not ending up in someone’s pocket for personal use.

Before giving out any of your personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers, be sure to check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau, and your local Secretary of State. You may also check out a charity's rating at Charity Navigator.

Better Business Bureau website is www.bbb.org. You can search their charity database by selecting the "Charity & Donors section". For those without web access, you may also call them at (866)206-1800.

Colorado Secretary of State website is www.sos.state.co.us . You will find their charities database under their "Licensing Center". For those without web access, you may also call them at (303)894-2200, Ext. 6409.

Charity Navigator website is www.charitynavigator.org. For those without web access, you may also call them at (201)818-1288

For charities that are legitimate, be aware that not all of your donation may go for the cause that you believe you are contributing your money to. A percentage of the donations are sometimes placed towards administrative costs to cover advertising, salaries and fundraising. Ask questions to find out what percentage of your donation goes to support the cause, or to those administrative costs; whether the solicitor is a paid fundraiser or a volunteer; where the organization is located and their mailing address. A solicitor of a legitimate charitable organization will have these
answers readily available and will be willing to provide them to you without hesitation.

If you are a victim of a charity scam, first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov or by calling (877)382-4357.

If you are a victim of an online scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Scam Date: 

November, 2012

Related Links: 

The Ticket Scam Resource Center

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Charity Navigator

So you want to make a charitable donation. How do you tell the difference between a legitimate charitable organization and that everyday thief? How do you know how much of your donated money goes towards the cause?
Right after a disaster, whether it be a fire, tornado, tsunami, or a hurricane, a lot of charities pop up asking for donations as this is a time to play upon your emotions. Most of the websites created during these times are fake and originate outside of the United States. Many fake charities will often name their organization something closely related to a well-known legitimate organization. Everyday thieves have been known to use a legitimate organization's logos for their own personal gain.

How do you know that the charity you have chosen is legitimate?

Before giving out any of your personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers, be sure to check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau, your local Secretary of State, or with Charity Navigator.

- Better Business Bureau website is www.bbb.org . You can search their charity database by selecting the "Charity & Donors section". For those without web access, you may also call them at (866)206-1800.
- Colorado Secretary of State website is www.sos.state.co.us . You will find their charities database under their "Licensing Center". For those without web access, you may also call them at (303)894-2200, Ext. 6409.
- Charity Navigator website is www.charitynavigator.org. For those without web access,
you may also call them at (201)818-1288

How do you know if your donation is going toward board salaries and wasteful marketing?
How do you know if your donation is even kept within the city in which you donate?

Be aware that not all of your donation may go for the cause that you believe you are contributing your money to. A percentage of the donations are sometimes placed towards administrative costs to cover advertising, salaries and fundraising. Depending on how donations are collected, your well thought out donation may even end up benefiting another city altogether. Ask questions to find out what percentage of your donation goes to support the cause, or to those administrative costs; whether the solicitor is a paid fundraiser or a volunteer; where the organization is located and their mailing address; and whether any funds are going outside of the city in which you donated. A solicitor of a legitimate charitable organization will have these answers readily available and will be willing to provide them to you without hesitation.

If you believe you are a victim of a charity scam, first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov or by calling (877)382-4357.

If you are a victim of an online charity scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov .
If you believe that a Colorado organization is fraudulently collecting charitable money, please first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them and also contact the Colorado Secretary of State at http://www.sos.state.co.us or by dialing (303)894-2200 & press 2.

Scam Date: 

October, 2012

Related Links: 

The Ticket Scam Resource Center

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Charity Navigator

The District Attorney’s Office has been receiving numerous phone calls on an array of different scams. This month I thought I would highlight some of them to let you know what is potentially threatening our community, putting you at risk.

Mystery Shopping Scams:

Although I may receive a complaint here and there on this one, it usually is about every 2 years that this one makes a strong comeback. 2012 seems to be the year for this scam. How the scam works: You receive an email, or a letter in the mail, stating you have been selected to become a mystery shopper. All you have to do is evaluate a money wiring transfer service. You’re sent a check for a large sum in which you are instructed to deposit the check into your bank account and wire a portion of the check to a certain person and location using a specific money wiring transfer service. You’re then instructed to evaluate the service you received and provide the tracking number to the sender. You are further instructed that the remainder of the money is yours to keep. So what is the scam? The money you just wired was not from the proceeds of the check they sent to you, but it was in fact your very own money out of your very own bank account. Even though the check appeared to be a legitimate check, it was a fake. Your bank will soon learn that the check was a fake, and not only will you not be able to retrieve the money that you wired, the bank can and will hold you legally liable for the money now missing out of your account. If you do not put the money back into the account, the bank can press criminal charges of theft against you. The people committing these scams can easily avoid detection because the tracking number you provided is all they need. With that tracking number, the recipients can pick up the money at another location or even another country. More often than not, the money you wired is then wired to another location. This makes it nearly impossible to identify or locate the final recipient, therefore making it relatively impossible for prosecution to take place. For further information on legitimate mystery shopping companies, contact the District Attorney’s Office.

Payday Lending Scams:

Some people have taken out quick high interest loans and paid the money back only to find out that later, a company identifying itself as an attorney, or a collection agency, contacts them to collect on the loan again and even threatens lawsuits, arrests or a lengthy jail sentence to intimidate you into sending more money to them. For unlawful collection agency practices, please contact the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office at (800)222-4444 to make a complaint as they oversee the collection agencies and their process for collecting.

Online Shopping Scams:

These can originate anywhere from Ebay, Craigslist, and are now even starting to show up on Facebook on the trading pages. Ebay, Craigslist and Facebook are reputable sites, but they’re being used by scam artists to take advantage of you and I. The major scam of this kind seems to be listings of cars for sale on Craigslist and Ebay. If you’re the purchaser, then you are asked to wire the money to them, usually out of the country, and then the car is never received. If you are the seller, then you are contacted by someone that usually doesn’t try to negotiate a lower price. In fact, they send you a check not only for what you were asking, but sometimes up to a $1,000.00 more than the listed price. They tell you that it is either for a courier service that you are to coordinate pick up with and wire the overage to, or they tell you it was a mistake and would you please deposit the check and wire the overage back to them. The check is not good and you are only sending your own money from your own bank account. Again, let me state that your bank will soon learn that the check was a fake, and not only will you not be able to retrieve the money that you wired, the bank can and will hold you legally liable for the money now missing out of your account. If you do not put the money back into the account, the bank can press criminal charges of theft against you. One of the newer online scams that I have been made aware of is showing up on Facebook and is referred to as the “Shoe Scam”. Fake profiles are being created on Facebook to then try and perpetrate scams by stating they have high priced sports type shoes for reasonable prices. They go so far as to attempt to create credible profiles. I say attempt because if you actually look at the profiles closely, you will more than likely find errors big time where they contradict themselves on things, whether it be listing other websites that they represent or misspelling the name of the school they allegedly attended or graduated from. They go so far as posting pictures of children as their profile picture to convince you that they are a family type person. The pictures they use are usually taken from other pages that they have just copied for their own personal use. These type of scams are only attempting to obtain your personal identifying information. Even if you get your shoes and are happy with them and think they are legitimate how comfortable are you with the fact that you will more than likely be a victim of identity theft in the near future because of giving out your personal information to someone in another country that you do not even know. The fact that you may have paid $60 for a pair of name brand shoes that normally cost a $100 in the store may seem great, but what if the other person you gave your information to is sitting in their recliner at home patiently waiting for the moment that you feel confident enough that your information hasn’t been compromised before they use it to their advantage. Identity theft is not a matter of IF it happens. It is a matter of WHEN it happens. If you have given out your personal information in one of these type of scams, please contact the District Attorney’s Office to get information on identity theft to help protect you in the future.

If you have any further questions regarding any of these particular scams, or any others that you may have knowledge of, please contact Stacie Harris at the District Attorney’s Office at (719)583-6030.

Scam Date: 

September, 2012

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

For 13 years, identity theft has been the #1 complaint made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 2011, Colorado residents made approximately 28,854 consumer complaints to the FTC. Of that number, 4,156 were regarding identity theft in the state of Colorado.

How is identity theft committed?

Many people are now using social media to communicate, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace. Have you ever given much thought as to how much of your personal information is readily accessible online? Social media is now the major hunting ground for identity thieves. Stop and think about the type of things that could be available to everyone on these particular websites -your full name, birthdate, city and state where you are now located at, where you were born, family members listed, etc., Some game applications that seem to be just for having fun and getting to know one another can sometimes be too invasive if you are not careful. They ask you your favorite color, favorite vacation destination, favorite teacher’s name or pet names. These can actually be a precursor of discovering your passwords for your accounts. If you feel the need to list personal information online, for example your birthdate, at least remove the year. This would also mean that you need to not list what year you graduated from high school. You already know who your family is. So does everybody else really need to know? By setting privacy settings high, you reduce the risk somewhat. But keep in mind, although it is not a pleasant thought, the majority of identity theft is committed by friends and family. If they have access to it, you’re still at risk.

Not all identity thefts are this high tech. Some victims have reported just having their wallet/purse stolen or they just simply lost their identification while out one day/evening.

Personal information can also be obtained through burglaries of your home, your car, or your business. Remember to keep items such as your financial correspondence, tax returns, medical statements and anything with your social security number on it locked up in a safe place. Never just toss these type of documents into the trash without cross-shredding it first.

Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.

Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them. Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your SS card in your wallet or write it down on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier. Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you know who you are dealing with. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements. Be alert to signs that require immediate attention: Bills that do not arrive as expected, unexpected credit cards or account statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, calls or letters about purchases you did not make.

Inspect:
Your credit report. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history. The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it. You can also go to Annual Credit Report (www.annualcreditreport.com), which was a service created by the 3 companies, to order your free credit reports each year.

Your financial statements. Review financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make.

Defend against ID theft as soon as you suspect it.

Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports and review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285  Experian: 1-888-397-3742  TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Close accounts. Close accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently by calling the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing with copies of supporting documents.

ID Theft Affidavit. Use the ID Theft Affidavit at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your statement.

File a police report. Creditors may want proof of the crime.

Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations. 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY, 1-866-653-4261.

If you have any questions or would like printed materials regarding this topic, please contact Stacie Harris at the District Attorney’s Office at (719) 583-6030.

Scam Date: 

August, 2012

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

So you want to make a charitable donation. How do you tell the difference between a legitimate charitable organization and that everyday thief? How do you know how much of your donated money goes towards the cause?

Right after a disaster, whether it be a fire, tornado, tsunami, or a hurricane, a lot of charities pop up asking for donations as this is a time to play upon your emotions. Most of the websites created during these times are fake and originate outside of the United States. Many fake charities will often name their organization something closely related to a well-known legitimate organization. Everyday thieves have been known to use a legitimate organization's logos for their own personal gain.

How do you know that the charity you have chosen is legitimate?

Before giving out any of your personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers, be sure to check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau, your local Secretary of State, or with Charity Navigator.

Better Business Bureau website is www.bbb.org . You can search their charity database by selecting the "Charity & Donors section". For those without web access, you may also call them at (866)206-1800.

Colorado Secretary of State website is www.sos.state.co.us . You will find their charities database under their "Licensing Center". For those without web access, you may also call them at (303)894-2200, Ext. 6409.

Charity Navigator website is www.charitynavigator.org. For those without web access, you may also call them at (201)818-1288.

How do you know if your donation is going toward board salaries and wasteful marketing?
How do you know if your donation is even kept within the city in which you donate?

Be aware that not all of your donation may go for the cause that you believe you are contributing your money to. A percentage of the donations are sometimes placed towards administrative costs to cover advertising, salaries and fundraising. Depending on how donations are collected, your well thought out donation may even end up benefiting another city altogether. Ask questions to find out what percentage of your donation goes to support the cause, or to those administrative costs; whether the solicitor is a paid fundraiser or a volunteer; where the organization is located and their mailing address; and whether any funds are going outside of the city in which you donated. A solicitor of a legitimate charitable organization will have these answers readily available and will be willing to provide them to you without hesitation.

If you believe you are a victim of a charity scam, first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov or by calling (877)382-4357.

If you are a victim of an online charity scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

If you believe that a Colorado organization is fraudulently collecting charitable money, please first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them and also contact the Colorado Secretary of State at http://www.sos.state.co.us or by dialing (303)894-2200 & press 2.

Scam Date: 

July, 2012

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

You have finally decided to upgrade to a new computer. After you have transferred all of your items to the new computer, how do you safely dispose of the old one. You can either recycle, donate or resell the old computer. Before taking any of these steps those, you must first clean it. This does not mean dusting it off. You have to actually “clean” the hard drive so that none of your personal information can be retrieved.

As hard scatter and store data in different places in the bits and pieces of your computer, performing a straight delete of files does not actually remove them from your hard drive. You will actually need to wipe clean your hard drive to protect yourself. While these type of programs differ in that some erase the entire disk, some allow you to pick and choose files to erase. Programs that erase the hard drive several times are more effective than those that do it just once. Failure to do this correctly puts you at risk of providing your personal information to someone that may commit identity theft. You may want to ask somebody that is knowledgeable with computers to assist you in this process. Your only other option is to remove the hard drive completely and destroy that piece.

Software is available at your local office supply store or you may even find programs online, some of which are free. Whatever program you choose, be sure to completely check out the product for it’s effectiveness before using it. Please note that if your personal computer is used for anything business related, the law requires you to follow the strict data security disposal procedures for information pertaining to any customers personal information.

Once your computer is “clean”, you can then decide how you’re going to dispose of it. Since computers may contain hazardous materials that do not belong in a landfill, you cannot dispose of it in your trash dumpster.

Recyle: by contacting the manufacturer of the computer to see if they have a recycle program. You may also log into the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to check the recycle information listed on their website at www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/erecycling/donate.htm

Scam Date: 

June, 2012

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

  1. Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to check out any contractors that submit bids. DO NOT trust that the BBB symbol on the contract, advertisement in the phone book or on the side of the business truck is proof that they are BBB recognized. Always check the company out with the BBB first by calling (866)206-1800 or visiting their website at www.bbbsc.org.
  2. Insist on a written contract that outlines your entire agreement. Two of the most important items that people overlook in a contract are when the work is to begin and when it is to be completed.
  3. If you do not understand what you are signing, you should not sign it. Have an attorney review any documents before you sign them, including contracts, warranties and plans.
  4. Make sure there are no blank spaces on anything you sign. NEVER sign a blank document.
  5. Seek a referral from someone you know who is happy with his or her contractor’s work.
  6. References provided by the contractor may not always be valid.
  7. Consider doing business with a local contractor. If something goes wrong, it may prove to be difficult to get something corrected if the contractor is from out of town, or out of state.
  8. Solicit bids from at least three contractors and be cautious of proposals that are much lower than any other proposals. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  9. Insist upon a written warranty on all materials provided and work performed.
  10. Get all building permits and variances before starting the project – and identify the contractor on the applications. If the contractor is to pull these permits, verify that they have been done and that the contractor is in compliance.
  11. Inspect all work before signing a completion certificate.
  12. Get a contractor’s affidavit that all subcontractors and material suppliers have been paid.
  13. Report any misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to honor contracts, unlicensed contractors, or other problems to the appropriate licensing board.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

Scam Date: 

May, 2012

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Once again, that time of year has come where the warm weather beckons us to start yard work and home repairs. With the high winds wrecking havoc on our roof, fences, etc., repairs are becoming necessary.

The alert this month serves as a reminder that this is the time of year when the con-artists are coming out of their winter retirement and starting to operate throughout the United States offering to do your repairs for a very minimal fee. Although it is speculated that many of these type of con-artists like to head to the areas hit hard by tornadoes, we must remember to be on our guard against their possibility of visiting Pueblo and the surrounding communities. These people share one common goal, to take your money and run.

The con starts when someone knocks on your door and offers to do repairs around your home. These repairs could be roof coating/repair, fixing a fallen fence, asphalt paving/driveway sealing, house/barn painting, tree pruning/landscaping, and termite/pest control, just to name a few. They offer to do the work and charge you less than what a reputable local company would charge you. The idea of paying less money is always a welcoming thought, but you must remember that doing business with someone that is just passing through can prove to be a disastrous decision. When you discover the poor work that was done, who do you call to make good on it? After receiving a deposit, or the full amount, you’re told they are going to get the supplies and will return. Some take the money and never return. Those that do come back, usually provide extremely poor labor. For example: paint is watered down, paving material is applied very thin and will crumble and crack within a short time, insect spray is made up of nothing more than water and/or water and milk, roofing repair consists of spraying silver or black spray paint on the roof.

These people have also been known to con their way into your homes on the pretense of using your phone, checking for leaks from the roof, etc. While inside your home, they look for valuables, easy items to pocket and/or your personal information. Some work in pairs. While one of them has your attention, the other is working their way through your home taking what isn't theirs. Always remember, there is no reason to ever let a stranger into your home.

Always remember:

  1. DO NOT do business with door-to-door contractors. Just because they pulled up in front of your house in a fancy truck with advertising decals on the doors does not mean that they are a reputable business. It could mean that they are just that good of a con artist.
  2. Keep all doors, including the garage door, closed and locked at all times, especially when you are outside working in the yard. It may seem like more of a hassle to keep unlocking the door every time you need to enter, but if you step away from the front of the house to retrieve something in the backyard, that's all the time that is needed to gain access to your home.
  3. Install security doors with metal grillwork and key locks instead of latched screen doors.
  4. Do not hide keys under the doormat or rocks.
  5. Secure sliding glass doors with anti-slide block or slide bolt.
  6. Do not rely on the phone book advertisements that show that a company is a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Take the time to actually call the BBB at (866)206-1800 and verify the business. You may also access their website at www.bbbsc.org . It may cost you more in the long run to hire someone from a reputable business that has been checked out with the Better Business Bureau, but you at least have a better sense of who you're dealing with, and possible recourse through civil remedy if the job is not done correctly.

 

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

 

Scam Date: 

April, 2012

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Tax season is upon us and this is a time to be especially cautious with your personal identifying information. Tax season is a prime time to give an identity thief an opportunity. Your tax documents contain every bit of information that they want, name and address, date of birth, social security number, and now with the benefit of direct deposits for your refund, they can also include your bank account and routing number. This is enough information for the thief to drain your bank account and to set up credit to ruin your good name.

There are several ways of safeguarding your personal information during the tax season. The following should assist you in taking a look at your own individual situation and to make the decision that works best for you.

Tax Accountant

When using a tax accountant, make sure to use someone you know and trust. Tax preparers should only be asking questions related to your income and allowable expenses. Be sure to ask questions before handing over your personal information. Some questions you may ask:

  • Do you lock up all personal information?
  • If processing electronically, do you routinely keep virus protectors updated?
  • How many people in your company have access to my personal information?
  • Do you share personal information with any telemarketers?
  • Do you outsource any of your work?

If the answers to any of these questions make you feel uneasy, then consider doing business with someone else.

Tax Software for home preparation

If using a home tax program, be sure that you have an updated virus protector and firewall to prevent hackers from accessing your personal information over the internet. After you have e-filed or printed out all your tax documents for mailing, be sure to go back into the tax program and delete out your last name, address, date of birth and social security number. This way, if a hacker does penetrate your system later on, none of the personal information is still stored in the program.

Mailing

If you choose not to e-file your tax return and instead opt to mail your tax documents, try to make a point of not mailing them from your home. When placing your mail in your mailbox and raising the flag to alert the postal worker that you have mail to pick up, you’re not only alerting the postal employee, but you also alert identity thieves that there could potentially be personal information in your mailbox for them to steal. Take the time to personally deliver your tax documents to the local post office and actually hand it to an employee working at the counter. If you are unable to take your documents to the post office, at least wait for your mail carrier and personally hand them the envelopes for mailing.

If you see someone other than the mail carrier taking mail out of your mailbox, or a neighbor’s mailbox, call your local law enforcement immediately.

Stealing from your mailbox is not the only way identity thieves obtain information during tax season. They may also attempt to phone or email you claiming to be from the IRS and inform you that they need to verify the information in your tax return. DON'T GIVE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OUT OVER THE PHONE OR INTERNET. The IRS will never phone or email you to ask for your personal information. The IRS will never contact you by email and request your personal information. DO NOT respond to these type of emails and do not click on any links provided in the email. Clicking on links or responding to these emails could potentially infect your computer with a virus, thus giving them access to personal information stored on your computer. For this reason, be sure that you have an updated virus protector and firewall.

To report suspicious tax activity and possible scams, you may call the Office of the Treasury Inspector General at 1-800-829-1040.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU  

Scam Date: 

March, 2012

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

  1. Seasonal Jobs – There are many out there that are preying on those who need work. The most common type of this particular scam are the work-at-home type jobs. If you are asked to pay a fee up front and provide your social security number, this should be a red flag as a potential identity theft scheme.
     
  2. Charities - Verify that a charity is legitimate by contacting:
    • Colorado Secretary of State website at www.sos.state.co.us. You will find their charities database under their "Licensing Center". For those without web access, you may also call them at (303) 894-2200, Ext. 6409.
    • Charity Navigator website at www.charitynavigator.org. For those without web access, you may also call them at (201) 818-1288.
       
  3. Vacation – Scam artists are now online advertising properties for vacation rentals which don’t exist by posting a fake photo of property that they are pretending to own. Do your research to make sure that the property exists and that the person posting is the actual owner. Don’t ever wire money. These kind of purchases are better handled with a credit card in which you can dispute the charges if need be.
     
  4. Counterfeit Merchandise - Beware of people approaching you in parking lots to sell you these types of items. Although they may be a great money saver that you’re looking for, some work in pairs to distract you so that they can steal your wallet. Keep alert in this situation. No deal is ever worth your safety.
     
  5. Gift Card Scams – Gift cards are the easiest gift to give, but they are also an easy avenue for scammers to steal from you. The theft is done by the scammer writing down the exposed serial number on the card and checking to see when the card has been activated. As soon as they see this, they use the money that was preloaded on the card. Examine cards for any tampering. The PIN should still be completely covered. Ask for cards that are stored behind a counter. Spend the cards quickly so as not to give the scammer time to access it.
     
  6. Email/Phishing Scam – You receive an e-mail from what appears to be a legitimate financial institution telling you that your account has been compromised and you must log on immediately. They provide you a link to access. This link actually takes you to a copycat website that steals your username and password. If you question an email as to whether it is from your bank or credit card company, call the number on the back of your credit card or check a billing statement for a website. Never click a link provided to you in an email.
     
  7. Mystery Shopping – You’re asked to evaluate a wire transferring service. You are then provided with a check to deposit into your account and then told to withdraw a portion of it, keeping the rest for yourself as a bonus. You’re instructed to wire the withdrawn money to another person who may be located in another state, or even another country. When you provide the tracking number to the company, the money is picked up somewhere else, leaving you with the responsibility of replacing the money in your now overdrawn account because the check you deposited will more than likely a made up check or a check written on a stolen account.

 IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

Scam Date: 

December, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

While scams are committed year round, they seem to increase during the holidays when shoppers are distracted with the hustle and bustle of everything going on around them, whether it be from the shopping itself to holiday chitter chatter when you’ve run into an old friend, or a too good to be true deal found online. There are scammers everywhere looking to accomplish one thing in their daily routine, separate you from your money. To keep you safe and more alert, here are some Tips to Safe Holiday Shopping:

  1. When making a major purchase, such as televisions, computers, etc., do your research to assure yourself that you are getting the best value for your money. If you have the slightest doubt about any purchase, stop and do further research until you are confident in your selection and purchase.
     
  2. If you’re doing business with a local company, ask lots of questions until you are comfortable before you make the purchase. If the company is reputable, they will always be pleased to provide you with references. Verify the company with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbbsc.org or by calling toll-free 1-866-206-1800.
     
  3. Shopping online: There are advantages of shopping on the web - not having to leave the comfort of your home to fight a crowd at a store, items delivered right to your front door. A lot of businesses on the web are legitimate, but you just have to remember to use caution in selecting who you do business with. Do business with companies that can provide a physical address, not just a post office box. Print copies of the online products/ services of your purchases, including any receipts or confirmations that you may receive. It is recommended to pay by credit card instead of a check or money order. If you should encounter a problem and the company refuses to fix the issue or deliver the item, you can dispute the purchase with the issuer of the credit card, thus standing a better chance of having your money returned. Be sure when paying by credit card online that it is a secure website (the URL starts out “https”). Never wire money for an online purchase.

If you are a victim of an online scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

Scam Date: 

November, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

“Phishing” is when a malicious person or company impersonates a legitimate one in order to trick you into giving out your personal information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, social security numbers, etc.

Some citizens and companies of Pueblo County have received e-mails stating “LAST NOTICE: Your Federal Tax Payment has been rejected”. They are then instructed to click on a link for more information and for directions to remedy the situation. This link takes you to what looks like the Internal Revenue Service website. It isn’t. As the Internal Revenue Service already has your personal information on the income tax forms that you submitted, they will NEVER contact you in this manner.

This type of email is dangerous in more ways than one. The first problem that it will cause is that by clicking on the link, you may open your computer up to a virus that will attack it, thus making your computer vulnerable for someone to obtain any personal information stored on the computer. The other problem is that when you reach the next website that you were routed to, you will be asked to input personal information as to your date of birth, address, social security number, credit card numbers, etc.

Steps to safeguard your personal information:

  1. NEVER give your personal information over the phone or on the internet
  2. If you do have to provide sensitive information, such as your credit card number, over the internet, please be sure that your anti-virus programs are up-to-date and that you have double checked the URL address of the website to assure yourself that you are actually dealing with a reputable company.
  3. If you are a victim of an online tax scam, file a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service on their website located at www.irs.gov. You may also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

Scam Date: 

August, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Our weather has been quite damaging at times here on the home front with the winds, as well as across the United States. Several have suffered damages as a result of tornadoes, flooding and fires. We have now added hurricane season to the list, a high number of which have been predicted for the year 2011.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to be cautious when making charitable contributions to agencies to assist those in need. Fraudulent callers and websites pop up during disastrous times to take advantage of your kind heartedness. These fake charities often name their organization something closely related to a well-known legitimate organization, even going so far as to use a legitimate organization's logos for their own personal gain.

Before giving out any of your personal information, such as credit card or bank account numbers, be sure to check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau, and your local Secretary of State. You can also check out a charity's rating at Charity Navigator.

  • Better Business Bureau website is www.bbb.org. You can search their charity database by selecting the "Charity & Donors section". For those without web access, you may also call them at (866) 206-1800.
  • Colorado Secretary of State website is www.sos.state.co.us. You will find their charities database under their "Licensing Center". For those without web access, you may also call them at (303) 894-2200, Ext. 6409.
  • Charity Navigator website is www.charitynavigator.org. For those without web access, you may also call them at (201) 818-1288.

If you are a victim of a charity scam, first contact your local law enforcement agency (police or sheriff) to inform them. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov or by calling (877)382-4357.

If you are a victim of an online scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

Scam Date: 

June, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Wacky weather has been quite the issue all winter long. With the high winds wrecking havoc on our roof, fences, etc., repairs are now necessary.

This alert serves as a reminder that this is the time of year when con-artists come out of their winter retirement and start operating throughout the United States offering to do your repairs for a very minimal fee. Although it is speculated that many of these con-artists will head to the areas hit hard by the tornadoes, we must remember to be on our guard against their possibility of visiting Pueblo and the surrounding communities. These people share one common goal, to take your money and run.

The con starts when one knocks on your door and offers to do repairs around your home. These repairs could be roof coating/repair, fixing a fallen fence, asphalt paving/driveway sealing, house/barn painting, tree pruning/landscaping, and termite/pest control, just to name a few. They offer to do the work and charge you less than what a reputable local company would charge you. The idea of paying less money is always a welcoming thought, but you must remember that doing business with someone that is just passing through can prove to be a disastrous decision. When you discover the poor work that was done, who do you call to make good on it? After receiving a deposit, or the full amount, you’re told they are going to get the supplies and will return. Some take the money and never return. Those that do come back, usually provide extremely poor labor. For example: paint is watered down, paving material is applied very thin and will crumble and crack within a short time, insect spray is made up of nothing more than water and/or water and milk, roofing repair consists of spraying silver or black spray paint on the roof.

These people have also been known to con their way into your homes on the pretense of using your phone, checking for leaks from the roof, etc. While inside your home, they look for valuables, easy items to pocket and/or your personal information. Some work in pairs. While one of them has your attention, the other is working their way through your home taking what isn't theirs. Always remember, there is no reason to ever let a stranger into your home.

Always remember:

  • Don’t do business with door-to-door contractors. Just because they pulled up in front of your house in a fancy truck with advertising decals on the doors does not mean that they are a reputable business. It could mean that they are just that good of a con artist.
  • Keep all doors, including the garage door, closed and locked at all times, especially when you are outside working in the yard. It may seem like more of a hassle to keep unlocking the door every time you need to enter, but if you step away from the front of the house to retrieve something in the backyard, that's all the time that is needed to gain access to your home.
  • Install security doors with metal grillwork and key locks instead of latched screen doors.
  • Do not hide keys under the doormat or rocks.
  • Secure sliding glass doors with anti-slide block or slide bolt.
  • Do not rely on the phone book advertisements that show that a company is a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Take the time to actually call the BBB at (866)2061800 and verify the business. You may also access their website at bbbsc.org. It may cost you more in the long run to hire someone from a reputable business that has been checked out with the Better Business Bureau, but you at least have a better sense of who you're dealing with, and possible recourse if the job is not done correctly.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

Scam Date: 

May, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Our office has received several complaints from Colorado business owners about a letter that they received over the weekend from “Corporate Controllers Unit LLC”. These letters look official and even include a seal, which some may misinterpret as a State of Colorado seal.

The letter has clearly been designed to appear official and create a sense of urgency on your part for you to “act immediately”. The company even quotes state statute as to what you as a business owner are required to do to keep compliant with the State of Colorado. If you read the mailing closely, you will see that it clearly states, “We assist entities to avoid non compliance with the above provisions” and “submit with the annual fee of $225.00”. In that sense of urgency that was created, you probably never even noticed the statements of “this product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any Government Agency,” or “this is a solicitation for the order of services,” or “you are under no obligation”.

This company, along with many others like it, prey upon the hopes that you will not do your homework to find out whether you can accomplish this service on your own for a much lower cost. What you as the consumer/business owner need to be aware of in this type of situation is, you may file your annual report for your company online at the Colorado Secretary of State's website for $10.00.

There is also concern about the mechanisms of payment accepted by these types of companies. By sharing your personal bank account information, whether by check or credit card with someone you don’t know, you run a bigger risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Always check the validity of a business with the Better Business Bureau at (866)206-1800 or you may access their website at bbbsc.org.

If you ever question the validity of a government document, please contact the agency directly by calling the number listed in your phone book. Never verify by calling a number printed on the document.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU! 

Scam Date: 

April, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

Tax season is upon us and this is a time to be especially cautious with your personal identifying information. Tax season is a prime time to give an identity thief an opportunity. Your tax documents contain every bit of information that they want, name and address, date of birth, social security number, and now with the benefit of direct deposits for your refund, they can also include your bank account and routing number. This is enough information for the thief to drain your bank account and to set up credit to ruin your good name.

There are several ways of safeguarding your personal information during the tax season. The following should assist you in taking a look at your own individual situation and to make the decision that works best for you.

Tax Accountant

When using a tax accountant, make sure to use someone you know and trust. Tax preparers should only be asking questions related to your income and allowable expenses. Be sure to ask questions before handing over your personal information. Some questions you may ask:

  • Do you lock up all personal information?
  • If processing electronically, do you routinely keep virus protectors updated?
  • How many people in your company have access to my personal information?
  • Do you share personal information with any telemarketers?
  • Do you outsource any of your work?

If the answers to any of these questions make you feel uneasy, then consider doing business with someone else.

Tax Software for home preparation

If using a home tax program, be sure that you have an updated virus protector and firewall to prevent hackers from accessing your personal information over the internet. After you have e-filed or printed out all your tax documents for mailing, be sure to go back into the tax program and delete out your last name, address, date of birth and social security number. This way, if a hacker does penetrate your system later on, none of the personal information is still stored in the program.

Mailing

If you choose not to e-file your tax return and instead opt to mail your tax documents, try to make a point of not mailing them from your home. When placing your mail in your mailbox and raising the flag to alert the postal worker that you have mail to pick up, you’re not only alerting the postal employee, but you also alert identity thieves that there could potentially be personal information in your mailbox for them to steal. Take the time to personally deliver your tax documents to the local post office and actually hand it to an employee working at the counter. If you are unable to take your documents to the post office, at least wait for your mail carrier and personally hand them the envelopes for mailing.

If you see someone other than the mail carrier taking mail out of your mailbox, or a neighbor’s mailbox, call your local law enforcement immediately.

Stealing from your mailbox is not the only way identity thieves obtain information during tax season. They may also attempt to phone or email you claiming to be from the IRS and inform you that they need to verify the information in your tax return. DON'T GIVE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OUT OVER THE PHONE OR INTERNET. The IRS will never phone or email you to ask for your personal information. The IRS will never contact you by email and request your personal information. DO NOT respond to these type of emails and do not click on any links provided in the email. Clicking on links or responding to these emails could potentially infect your computer with a virus, thus giving them access to personal information stored on your computer. For this reason, be sure that you have an updated virus protector and firewall.

To report suspicious tax activity and possible scams, you may call the Office of the Treasury Inspector General at 1-800-829-1040.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU  

Scam Date: 

March, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

History of these type of scams trace back to the young gypsy girls flirting, flattering, befriending and defrauding the elderly males. Nowadays, this scam is not gender specific, nor is it age limited.

Let me introduce the "Robbing Romeos and Juliets" (hereafter referred to as R&J). These are con-artists that weasel their way into the hearts of their victims, using romance as an avenue to gain your confidence. R&J's perpetrate this scam through church groups, social clubs, online dating or chatting, grocery stores, banks and casinos. It used to be that only the financially well-off widows were the intended victims. Over time, this has changed. R&J's are not only out to gain your financial support, but they're now using their victims to commit these type of scams to mail items purchased with stolen credit cards and identities.

How does this happen? R&J's usually prey upon someone that has suffered a loss of a loved one, whether it is due to an untimely death or even by way of a divorce. The victim is usually feeling very lonely, no self-confidence, and just wants to fill this void in their lives. Any insecurities you may have during this time in your life are exactly what an R&J is looking for. This is the time they sweep you off your feet and gain your confidence by sending you flowers, giving you compliments, phone calls or emails to brighten your day. Due to the insecurities that the victim may be dealing with in their lives, they find themselves not wanting to let go of this arrangement and will hold on to it by whatever means necessary. R&J's need your emotional dependence. They have nothing to lose.

Once the R&J gains your confidence, they then start playing upon your sympathy. Maybe they're unable to feed their children, they may tell you that they've fallen prey to a bad financial deal and need a little help financially. R&J's have been known to not only obtain money this way, but also jewelry, cars, land and homes.

How long do they stay around? There's no time limit. If they feel they have a great thing going, they'll stick around a while, or at least until the victim (or their family and friends) get wise to what is going on. Then it is only a matter a time before both your money and the R&J are gone.

Online R&J's win your confidence in much the same way. They're always there to lend an ear to listen, or offer those comforting words and promises of great things to come with them. Many of the R&J's are not even located in the United States. They make promises of coming to visit you or sending you a ticket to visit them someday. Although some of the R&J's will be after just the victim's money, there are some that are after something quite different. An R&J will tell you that they have a small home-based business and that since they are located out of the area from where the merchandise is being ordered from, it would not be as expensive for them if they could just have your help in forwarding on the items. Some of these may even need to be mailed out of the United States. The R&J will even send the victim prepaid postage labels by email for downloading. Unbeknownst to the victim, these prepaid postage labels are more than likely counterfeit, and the items that they are being asked to mail are items that have been purchased with stolen credit card numbers belonging to victims of identity theft. This smooth talking R&J may also tell you that to thank you for your help in this, they'll send you a check. After you receive and acknowledge the check, they may tell you that they sent too much, or the victim may say it is just way too much for them to accept. The R&J will convince the victim to go ahead and deposit the check into their account and wire back a portion of it if that will make them feel better. All the victim has done is deposited a fraudulent check into their account and sent their own good money to the R&J. By the time the bank notifies the victim that the check was no good, this could put them in financial difficulties of their own if they have been spending against the money they thought was in the bank. The bank can, and will, legally hold the victim of this type of scam responsible for the missing funds in the account. If the funds are not replaced, criminal charges could be filed.

Many people who fall prey to this type of scam, never report it. They are overcome by shame and in a state of disbelief that it even happened to them, or that they are in love with the conartist. Those that are reported are usually done so by a family member or a friend of the victim.

How do you keep from falling prey to a Casanova Con?

  • The cost of a background check is less than that of the financial or emotional loss that you could lose.
  • Where in person or online, ask the person lots of questions. If you don't like the answers you are receiving, or they sound too good to be true, be careful as it may just be a scam.
  • If you are doing online dating, use a reputable dating or chat service. Always follow the basic safety tips for online dating found on those websites.
  • When meeting someone for the first time, make sure it is in a public place.

If you do fall prey to this type of scam and have already sent money, there is little chance of ever recovering the money. Although you may feel ashamed of falling prey to this type of scam, understand that you are not the first one that they have taken advantage of and more than likely, you will not be their last victim. You still need to report the incident to the local authorities. Reporting it may help the authorities find the con-artist and prevent this from happening to someone else.

IDENTIFY A SCAM BEFORE A SCAM IDENTIFIES YOU!

Scam Date: 

February, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

The scams over the years seem to be ones that replay themselves over and over, almost on a rotating basis:  illegal foreign lotteries, gypsy/traveler home repairs, magazine sales, refinancing loans, people portraying themselves as debt collectors,  fraudulent charities and grandparent scams that play on your emotions and sympathy.   The one scam that seems to be prevalent every day though is still identity theft, which according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) still ranks as the number one complaint reported in 2009 and affected 278,078 victims.

After a news station in Memphis did a story on potential risks of posed “contactless” credit/debit/ATM cards containing embedded RFID (radio frequency identification), it seems that electronic pickpocketing is getting a lot of attention these days. 

RFID chips can be found in passports and some credit cards.  These chips could be encoded with basic information such as account numbers, expiration dates, names, and/or dates of birth on them.  As reported by the Memphis news station, “the extent to which this activity might be used to facilitate theft is currently difficult to gauge.  The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has stated “that they’ve never seen a case of RFID skimming used to steal information”.   Since most victims of identity theft don’t know how their identity was stolen in the first place, statistical reports of electronic pickpocketing may not exist.

Analysts have stated that they believe card skimming in this manner may not be as much of a threat as some reports have made it sound.  The reason for this is that they believe that the data streams that are emitted by contactless cards don’t include information such as PIN’s and the card verification value (CVV) security codes.  Newer cards are reported not to even contain the customer’s name on the chip.  Without these vital pieces of information, a card skimmer should not be able to use the information stolen from the card to create a fake credit card or to even use it online where a customer is not present.

Other analysts state that card skimming devices generally work when a victim only carries a single contactless card.  When carrying multiples of these type of cards, the transmission creates a jumbled, unintelligible data stream.  While original RFID enabled cards transmitted information in plain text, technology has created new contactless cards with encryption to the data that is streamed, thus making them unreadable by ordinary card readers.

So what does this all mean for you?  That totally depends on your views and interpretation of this information.  You may either rest assured that credit card companies are doing everything they need to do to keep the information on your credit card that you carry in your back pocket or purse safe, or you may feel more comfortable about purchasing a secure sleeve that shields the RFID signals from being transmitted to an electronic thief.

Scam Date: 

January, 2011

Related Links: 

Better Business Bureau

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Federal Trade Commission

Colorado Secretary of State

The District Attorney’s Office has received numerous phone calls from Pueblo County residents regarding phone calls in which the caller states they are a representative of Microsoft Support and that their computer is sending a message to Microsoft stating their computer has become infected with a virus. The caller then tries to direct you to a website to allow remote access to the computer so that they may “assist you in removing the virus”.

Microsoft does not operate this way and will never initiate a call to you based on this type of scenario. Microsoft will return a phone call to you only if YOU have initiated the phone call for technical support.

If someone calls you stating they are with Microsoft Support, and you did not call them initially for assistance, please:

  • Do not give any personal information to the caller.
  • Do not go to the website they are directing you to as it will give them access to your computer and personal information stored on it as well as download a virus to your computer.
  • Do be firm in telling them you are not interested and know this to be a scam and to not call back. This may take several times in telling them before they give up. They will try to intimidate you.
  • Do be aware that even by following these steps, they will still try to make money off of you by selling your name and phone number to other scam artists, who in turn will call you with this or other type of scams.

Always remember that you are in charge of your phone calls and can discontinue a call by simply, and firmly, stating NO and hanging up.

If you have become a victim of this scam, please contact the District Attorney’s Office for resources and more information on how to safeguard your computer from future attacks. Also, please do not feel embarrassed about becoming a victim of this type of scam, or any scam for that matter. You are not the first to fall for it, and unfortunately, you will not be the last. Share your story so that others do not become a victim of this type of scam. The only way to put a con artist out of business is by educating each other as to what has occurred.

~Identify a scam before a scam identifies you ~

Scam Date: 

April, 2014

As some of you have already been made aware, Anthem Insurance was the target of a cyber attack in which personal information of current and former members was successfully obtained. Anthem states the personal information that was obtained was “names, birthdays, medical ID’s, social security numbers, street address, email addresses and employment information, including income data. They are currently investigating exactly whose information was compromised. Although Anthem has stated that they will “individually notify current and former members whose information has been accessed” and further states, “provide credit monitoring and identity protection services free of charge so that those who have been affected can have peace of mind”, at this time, we have no clue which one of us has had our information compromised, nor should we wait until they have completed an investigation of such. I guarantee that whoever obtained the information is not waiting to use it and has more than likely already sold off and disseminated the personal information obtained.

It is the recommendation of our office that everyone place a Fraud Alert on your credit reports immediately. To do so, call tollfree 1-888-766-0008. Please listen closely to the prompts as there are several to choose from, including one of which gives you an option of going to their website to accomplish this. Considering our information has already been compromised by computer technology, I would highly recommend completing this by phone. Either way, you will have to enter your social security number to complete the task, The number listed above is one supplied and endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission. I have just completed the phone process to place the fraud alert. The first 3 appear to be primarily what you will need to consider choosing. Option #1 is to place an initial 90 day fraud alert on ALL three of the credit reporting agencies. Option #2 is for active duty military to place the initial 90 day fraud alert. Option #3 is to extend the initial 90 day alert for a period of 7 years. The 90 day fraud alert should hopefully give Anthem the time necessary to discover exactly whose information was actually compromised.

Unfortunately, if you are determined to be one of those whose personal information was compromised, you will need to be proactive for the rest of your life in safeguarding your information from any future attacks. Just because the information was obtained now does not mean it will be used right away. Past federal investigations have shown where information obtained was actually stored on hackers calendars and scheduled for use several years from when it was first obtained.

Please also note that you are also entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. The phone numbers for those agencies are:

Equifax (800) 685-1111

Experian (888) 397-3742

TransUnion (800) 916-8800

Should you have any other questions or concerns to this process for the alerts and reports, do not hesitate to contact Stacie Harris at 583-6030.

Scam Date: 

February, 2015