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Fraud Alert!




Robocalls: Legitimate or a Scam?

The telephone rings and once again, it’s that annoying call – a recorded message soliciting a product, service or donation, followed by instructions to “press 1” for more information, or “2” to decline further calls. These are referred to as robocalls, and all consumers, regardless if they are on the Do Not Call Registry, receive them. Generally speaking, robocalls are legal provided that solicitors follow guidelines established under the National Do Not Call Registry (DNCR). According to these guidelines, charities, political organizations and businesses conducting telephone surveys are allowed to make solicitation calls to phone numbers on the DNCR. Calls from businesses are prohibited, however, unless the consumer has given the business permission in writing, to call. Companies with whom the consumer has an account, or has received a service or product within the last eighteen months may also solicit over the phone unless the consumer asks to be put on the company’s do not call list. Because businesses are able to transmit thousands of solicitation robocalls a minute at very little cost, it comes as no surprise that a greater number of businesses are using this method to market their goods. But even legitimate entities, lured by the ability to mass-advertise, may not be screening phone numbers against the Do Not Call Registry. Many robocalls are scams however, and common ones offer debt or mortgage relief, or deals to lower interest rates. One way to spot a robocall scam is to check the number on caller ID. Common scams using robocalls regularly falsify numbers to make it appear to be from a legitimate or known business. Some may only show the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9; while others may just come up as “unknown”. Eliminating robocalls is difficult. Having a block placed on these numbers by a phone service may offer some relief, but scam artists deliberately change their numbers to get around this. Screening all calls by allowing them to roll over into voicemail may be more effective. Other suggestions for reducing robocalls can be found on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website by clicking on www.ftc.gov/robocalls. The FTC regulates telemarketing calls, and is working hard to shut violators and scam artists down. To learn more about robocalls, to file a complaint, or to sign up with the National No Call Registry, click on www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. Regarding those instructions about pressing certain numbers to get a live operator or to stop future calls? Don’t press any number. It is just a ploy to determine if the phone number is active. Punching ANY number will result in more robocalls.




July 1, 2009

DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COLLECT(ION) CALL

Several area residents have received threatening phone calls from a person claiming to be with a debt collection agency. Despite the consumer’s protest that they were not the person who owed the money, the caller persisted in his demand for payment, even threatening to file a civil suit or have the consumer arrested. The collector claimed the consumer would be arrested within 24 hours if an immediate payment was not made. The caller would accept a partial payment of the debt if payment was made immediately. The caller quoted court docket numbers (which were fake), claiming it would only take one phone call to arrange for an arrest. Is this a case of mistaken identity by a company violating the regulations on collections, or is it an outright scam? Either way, the District Attorney recommends the following precautions when dealing with a collection agency:

1. Don’t panic! If you react in haste you may worsen your situation instead of improve it. And never pay a debt that you do not owe.

2. Ask for a copy of the original invoice or court judgment for which the agency is trying to collect. Under law, you have a right to receive a copy of the invoice or court judgment so that you may determine if it is a valid debt and one you owe. If the collector cannot provide a copy, the collection action must cease.

3. In most instances in Colorado a collection agency cannot use the courts to collect a debt that is more than six (6) years old. The collection agency may use other means, but cannot take you to court.

4. If a collection agency says they will take a partial payment as settlement of your debt, that does not mean the remaining balance is forgiven. The agency with whom you “settle” is still free to sell the balance to another agency who will then try to collect that amount. And if you “settle” for a partial payment you have now admitted that you are responsible for the entire debt.

5. For a more complete description of the collection process and your rights, visit the District Attorney’s website at www.da18.org and click on the “Consumer Protection” button. Look for “Fair Debt Collection Act”.



SKIMMING DEVICES ON ATM MACHINES
May 1, 2009

The District Attorney has just received notification of a skimming device found on an ATM Machine at a bank in Westminster.  Skimming occurs when someone uses a device to capture the data on the electronic strip on the back of your credit or debit card.  There are numerous reports of cards being skimmed in the Denver metro area over the past three months.  Most incidents have occurred at restaurants, but one investigation is focusing on incidents that occurred at local recreation center.  Skimming can occur anywhere where a credit or debit card is used.  Small hand held devices (I have one if you want to see it) may be used in restaurants or anywhere that a customer hands his card to another person for processing.  In the case of ATM machines or pay-at-the-pump gas stations, a device can be attached over the opening where you scan your card.  Now when you place your card in the slot, not only is it read by the legitimate machine, but the skimming device is also capturing the data from the electronic strip and sending it to the perpetrator.

FOR YOUR PROTECTION :

1. Always check an ATM machine or any device where you scan your card before you use the card.  If there seems to be an attachment to the card slot, use another machine and inform the bank or business.  If there seems to be an attachment, grip it and see if it is loose.  ATM machines are well built to protect against break-ins.  There should be no loose parts on an ATM machine.

2. When giving your card to another person (such as a waiter) always use the credit card, not your debit card.  Credit card transactions are more closely monitored than debit card transactions and illegal activity is more likely to be spotted before any damage is done.  And if the card is compromised, with a credit card no money has been taken from your account.  You simply have charges on your statement that you can dispute.  If the debit card is compromised, money from your account has been taken and will not be available to you until the bank replaces those funds.


February 9, 2009

HEARTLAND SECURITY BREACH

Heartland Payment Systems, a company that processes up to 100 million credit card, debit card and payroll transactions per month, reported on January 20th that their computer system had been hacked in 2008. To date the details of this security breach are largely unknown, but we do know that counterfeit credit cards that employ information stolen from Heartland are showing up across the country, from Illinois to California. At least one police agency in the Denver Metro area is investigating counterfeit credit cards that are tied to Heartland.

Since Heartland processes payments from most credit/debit cards, there is no way to identify holders of specific cards that should be warned. Therefore, the District Attorney is issuing the following recommendations to all credit and debit card users:

1. Check your credit card and bank statement for fraudulent charges the day you receive them.

2. Report any fraudulent or suspicious charges immediately. You have sixty (60) days from the date a fraudulent charge appears on your statement. After sixty (60) days you can be held responsible for any charges, including fraudulent ones.

3. File a report with your local law enforcement agency and request a copy of that report. You may need the report later to prove you are a victim of a crime.


Check this out for Identity Theft information:
http://www.co.jefferson.co.us/sheriff/sheriff_T62_R28.htm

Identity theft is running rampant. It seems there's another story about it in the news every day.

So you should check your credit report regularly. You'll find out if someone has opened credit accounts in your name. Unfortunately, credit reporting agencies charge about $10 per report.

Well, everybody in the country is entitled to a free report. You can view what's in your file at each of the three nationwide agencies.

You can obtain your free report once a year. www.annualcreditreport.com

Recovering from a burglary
Q. During our 40th anniversary trip, we were burglarized. Some valuable artwork was stolen, along with some of my wife's Native American jewelry. We've filed a police report and contacted our insurance company. But am I missing something? Could our identities be stolen? And could we find our stolen belongings online? Unfortunately, we forgot to arm our alarm system. Isn't there a failsafe system in this day and age?

A. I’m sorry your otherwise perfect trip was marred by the burglary. There’s no planning for this type of thing; you never know when it will happen.

Unfortunately, you could fall victim to identity theft. Maybe the burglars stole your computer or laptop. Or perhaps they nicked some of your mail or other paperwork.

Watch your bank accounts and credit cards closely. Contact your bank and explain the situation. You should be able to get new account numbers. This is a hassle if you have scheduled payments. But it is better than the alternative.

Of course, the burglars could use your information to open new accounts. There’s really no way for you to find out about this. Unless you monitor your credit report diligently, that is. You can get a free credit report from each credit reporting agency once a year. That’s a good start.

The agencies also offer credit monitoring services. You’ll need to pay for this. Instead, you may consider putting a freeze on your credit reports. Again, this can be a hassle. But nobody can pull your report without your consent.

Find out what you need to know about credit monitoring and credit freezes by reading my privacy tip.

Finding stolen goods

Normally, I wouldn’t bank on recovering stolen items. Most burglars take things that are difficult to find. Trying to find these things online is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

But it sounds like the items stolen were unique. Hopefully, you have evidence that you owned them. For example, look for the artwork’s provenance. You may also have photographs of the items. And your insurance agent should have a record.

All would be helpful in tracking down your belongings. There are several places you should look. Try pawnshops in your area. eBay is another obvious place to look. But don’t forget Craigslist; I’m sure many thieves have fenced goods on this site.

If you happen to find your belongings, don't confront the seller. You don’t know what could happen. Rather, contact the police immediately. The police report and proof of ownership should convince them to act.

Your chances of finding your belongings are better than in most situations. But you still may not succeed.

Now, about your alarm

As for the alarm, the failure to arm it was unfortunate. But those things happen. I don’t know of a failsafe way to avoid such oversights. Heck, I’ve come home and found the garage door open. I thought I closed it...

Some alarm systems can be armed from a distance. Ask your security company if it offers such a system.

If it doesn’t, look elsewhere. For example, InGrid makes a system that you can control and monitor from afar. The system works with monitoring from Guardian Protection. Smart Home makes a similar system. It is monitored by Alarm Relay.

You might also consider a home automation system. These allow you to control appliances and lights from afar. Some also include alarm systems.

The ability to arm an alarm system remotely is a nice feature. Personally, though, I wouldn’t change my alarm system just for this feature. That’s particularly true if there is a fee for canceling the service contract.

Check the house

Rather, have someone check the house when you're away. This person could arm the system should you forget. Also, alarm systems aren’t foolproof. Professional burglars can get around them. Having someone check your house and pick up your mail gives thieves the impression that someone is there.

You could install security cameras. These connect to your home network, whether wired or wireless. The cameras let you monitor your home from elsewhere over the Internet. Many also record and send e-mail or text message alerts when motion is detected.


November 4, 2008

 WHEN YOUR GRANDSON ISN’T YOUR GRANDSON

One of the many scams that frequently targets seniors is the call for help from someone posing as a grandchild or distant relative. When the victim, usually elderly, answers the phone the caller typically says “It’s your grandson” (granddaughter, nephew, etc.) or just “It’s me”. Sometimes the victim will reply with something like, “Is that you, Steve?” Now the scammer has a name and pretends to be Steve and explains that he has gotten into trouble and needs the victim to wire him some money immediately. This fraud is being perpetrated daily around the world, including consumers who have been targeted in the Denver metro area.

To protect yourself (and elderly parents, grandparents, etc.), District Attorney Carol Chambers recommends:

1. Never supply a name when someone calls pretending to be a relative or former neighbor or acquaintance. Make the caller tell you who they are.

2. Even if they seem to have all the right information, check the caller’s story with other family members before you consider sending money or giving information to the caller.


August 21, 2008

THIS NEWS COULD BE BAD NEWS

District Attorney Carol Chambers is urging consumers to be extra careful with e-mails claiming to be delivering information about the Olympics, the Democratic or Republican National Conventions, or any other major news event. These e-mails, often with titles that include the words “breaking news”, may be phishing scams designed to steal your personal information or they may contain malicious software that will harm your computer. One recent example of a scam e-mail appeared to be an MSNBC.com Breaking News Alert. Anytime there are major events such as the Olympics or the national political conventions, scammers will be trying to pass their bogus e-mails as legitimate news coming from real and well-recognized organizations or agencies. To keep yourself safe, the District Attorney recommends:

1. Do not open e-mails from unknown sources, regardless of the e-mail title.

2. In order to receive alerts or breaking news items from any source, you usually have to sign up for the service. If you did not sign up and receive an e-mail, treat it with care. Your safest course would be to not open the e-mail, but go to the “alleged” sender’s website to read the news. If the e-mail says it is from MSNBC.com, type in www.MSNBC.com on your web browser and read about it there. But you must type the address in yourself; do not click on a link in the e-mail. If you click on a link embedded in the e-mail and the sender is a scammer, you will regret it.


July 25, 2008

A local consumer looking for a home to rent found her dream home in an ad on Craig’s List. And the price was within her budget; in fact it was a surprising low rent for a house of this caliber. After getting a tour of the house on two occasions, the victim paid the owner an $1100 deposit prior to signing a lease. There was only one problem. She never heard from the “owner” again, and discovered that the woman who took her money was not the owner of the home. The home was listed with a local realtor and was for sale, not rent. Rental scams using the Internet are very common and have previously involved scammers sending e-mails from overseas and money being wired overseas. This is the first time we have a perpetrator that was actually present at the fake rental site, and who collected the money in person. The District Attorney cautions anyone seeking to rent or purchase a home to take the following precautions:

1. Independently verify that the person who is offering the home is the legal owner of that property. Contact the local County Clerks Office or go to the Clerk’s website and determine the legal owner from the property records.

2. Verify the identity of the person who claims to be the owner. Ask for personal identification.

3. Don’t rely on pictures of the property provided by the seller. Drive by the property and make sure it exists. If there is a real estate sign in the yard, call the realtor to determine why his/her sign is there.

4. Do not pay any deposits upfront. Funds should only change hands when you know you are dealing with the real owner, the lease is signed and you get possession of the home.


May 6, 2008

REPAIRS THAT DO NOT LEAD TO DESPAIR
Spring brings warmer temperatures, longer days, greener lawns and home repairs and improvements. It also brings increased complaints about home improvement fraud to our Consumer Protection Line. District Attorney Carol Chambers reminds consumers that some simple precautions can reduce the possibility that the repairs or improvements to your home will not lead to despair later.
To protect yourself from home improvement fraud:

1 . Only do business with local and well established businesses. Never do business with someone who shows up uninvited on your doorstep.

2. Never allow anyone into your home that you do not know and trust. Report any suspicious visitors to your home to local law enforcement.

3. Never allow someone to pressure you into a hasty decision. If someone tells you there is a serious problem with your home, get a second or third opinion before proceeding with the repairs.

4. Before doing business with any company, check its record with the Better Business Bureau and if it is registered with the Secretary of State.

5. Get a written contract spelling out what work will be done, what materials will be used, what it will cost and when work will start and when it will be completed.

6. Verify that the contractor has workmen’s compensation and liability insurance before any work begins on your home. Have yourself listed as an additional insured on the contractor’s policy.


February 1, 2008

THEY DIDN’T WASTE ANY TIME

Criminals are always looking for new opportunities to take your money, and we expect the impending economic stimulus package being debated in Congress to be a good source of new scams. What we did not expect is for the scams to appear before Congress had finished designing the program. Over twenty (20) consumers in South Carolina have already reported being contacted by person or persons unknown who are offering to automatically deposit the promised tax refund in their bank accounts. The callers have pretended to be with the IRS or the tax department of the Social Security Administration. Of course, if you give your bank account information, nothing will be put in but a lot (if not all) will be taken out. As of this date, we do not have reports of anyone in Colorado who has been victimized, but we know these scams will come to our state.

To protect yourself:

1. Carefully track the news accounts about the economic stimulus program so you know what is happening and when it will begin. Most reports say that payments will not be issued until May or later.

2. If you have any questions about the tax refund program or about any strange contacts you might receive, call your local law enforcement agency or district attorney’s office BEFORE you take any action!

3. NEVER give personal information to anyone who contacts you, regardless of who they claim to be.

Once the details of the program are established, we will be issuing a new CONSUMER ALERT describing how the refunds will be administered.

Need help? Call the Consumer Protection Line 720-874-8547


January 10, 2008

This Tip May Cost You

Two recent callers to our Consumer Protection Line reported that their restaurant tab was inflated AFTER they signed their credit card or debit card receipt and left the restaurant. In one case, when the customer called the restaurant to complain, the manager explained that the banks and credit card companies are now adding a 20% charge to all restaurant charges to insure that the customer has left a tip. This is NOT true! These stories point out the need for vigilance when using your credit or debit card.

To protect you from unauthorized charges:

1. When you receive your credit or debit card receipt, review it before you sign it. You are responsible for making sure the charge slip is correct. Once you sign, you can be held liable for all charges.

2. Always fill in your charge slip completely. Do not leave blank any lines, especially the tip line. If you are unhappy with the service and are not leaving a tip, put “0” on the tip line. And complete the “total” line.

3. Take your receipt with you and keep it until you compare it to your monthly statement. One of our callers had already destroyed his receipt before he discovered the extra charge. The best proof that a receipt has been altered is your copy of the original receipt.


December 14, 2007

A TIME FOR GIVING --- TO THE RIGHT PERSON

This is the season to be giving, just be sure you are giving to the right person. 

A lot of hard earned money is donated to charities this time of year, but not all donations end up helping the needy. Just because it is the season of love, hope and joy does not mean that criminals have stopped committing fraud. And stealing your charity donations can be an attractive opportunity for criminals.

Charity fraud can take several forms:

1. Someone pretending to be with a legitimate charity.

2. Someone who sets up a fake charity, often with a name that is similar to a well known charity (The U.S. Cancer Society was a fraud that caught many victims; the American Cancer Society is the real thing.)

3. Someone who steals or embezzles funds from a legitimate charity.

We hate saying this, but you need to make sure the “charity” that is about to receive your donation is worthy of the gift. To protect against charity fraud:

1. Research any charity before you make the first donation. The Better Business Bureau maintains a website (www.give.org) with information on hundreds of charities. Local charities can be found at www.denverbbb.org.

2. Any charity in Colorado that collects donations of $25,000 or more in a year must file with the Secretary of State. Phone 303-894-2200, extension 6407.

3. Before you mail your donation or use your credit card to make a donation by phone or Internet, look up the number or the website and verify that you are sending your money to the legitimate charity, not to a criminal.


     August 21, 2007     SEX OFFENDER NOTICES

Homeowners throughout Colorado are finding notices taped to their doors stating that a known sex offender has moved into their neighborhood. The notice directs them to a website, www.neighborhoodredalert.com. The website offers for a fee to notify you when a sex offender moves into your neighborhood. The District Attorney’s Office is receiving many calls from consumers who received a notice and are upset because there may be a sex offender in the neighborhood. For those considering purchasing the services of this website, we have two cautions:

1. A list of registered sex offenders and their locations is available from many police and sheriff departments free of charge. Go to your local law enforcement website or call them for information on sex offenders in your area. A list of registered sex offenders in the state of Colorado is also available at www.sor.state.co.us. Again this service is free and the site is maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

2. The lists of sex offenders maintained by law enforcement agencies are accurate and up-to-date. When we used the Neighborhood Red Alert website to search for new offenders who had moved into the neighborhood near our office, the four addresses listed were all the same, and the address was not identifiable on the Red Alert website, but in fact was for the Arapahoe County Jail.

An advisory bulletin for consumers from the District Attorney for the 18 th Judicial District,

Carol Chambers


October 28, 2007        THERE IS NO TREAT HERE, JUST A NASTY TRICK

Halloween is the time for tricks and treats, but two current scams promise a treat while only delivering a trick. The treat is the chance to get a refund either from the IRS or the Department of Energy. But the treat does not exist and neither agency is giving refunds. The sender of the e-mail or the caller on the phone or the writer of the letter is trying to trick you into giving him your personal information. In the IRS version, the perpetrator notifies you that you are entitled to a refund because:

1. They recalculated your taxes and you overpaid; or

2. You are being rewarded for paying your taxes on time.

Neither case is true. If you fill in the form provided so that you can collect your refund, the perpetrator will have everything they need to steal your assets or your identity.

In the Department of Energy version, the victim is again informed that he/she is due a refund. They are told to click on a link in the e-mail, and if they do a secret program is installed in the victim’s computer. That program is capable of capturing the sensitive information in the computer and forwarding it to the perpetrator without the owner knowing.

REMEMBER: The IRS does not give refunds for paying on time. They fine you if you pay late. And the Department of Energy does not collect money from or give refunds to the general public.

June 11, 2007                       NOT WHO THEY CLAIM TO BE

Residents have recently reported the following incidents to the D.A.’s Office:

1. A man came to the victim’s door late on a Sunday night claiming to be from ADT Corporation. The perpetrator got the victim’s Social Security Number so he could do a credit check on her. The victim called ADT the next morning and was told they had no sales person going door-to-door.

2. A woman called another victim claiming to be a security officer for Chase Bank. The victim was recorded answering several questions, and when she called the number given by the “security officer” it was answered by an alarm service, not Chase Bank. She was told that during the initial call she had purchased a $400 alarm service. She cancelled the purchase.

3. A caller to another resident claimed to be from AARP. He was calling to alert the woman to possible scams. The recipient of the call hung up immediately. A check with AARP determined that they do not provide such a service.

4. A woman was called on a Saturday morning by someone claiming to be from the Douglas County Courts. The caller needed current information on the woman so they could send her a jury duty notice. The woman refused to give the information. A call to the courts confirmed that the caller was bogus.

When you receive a call from a stranger, no matter who they claim to be, verify their identity before engaging in conversation or before giving any information. Contact the company or agency directly using an e-mail address, postal address or a phone number that you have looked up. NEVER use contact information supplied by the stranger.


The mortgage lending industry has been very busy the last few years funding new home sales and refinancing many existing homes. The exceptionally low interest rates enabled many buyers to purchase their first home or their “dream” home. And the competitive market created many new mortgage options. Unfortunately some of those options which looked good then, are creating problems now. Colorado had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation for both March and April. Adjustable rate mortgages are becoming unmanageable for many as interest rates rise. And some bought more house than they could afford. People facing foreclosure or having difficulty making mortgage payments are looking for a way out, and the options they choose may make their situation worse, not better. We are seeing an increasing number of homeowners who have chosen an alternative financing option without fully understanding the consequences. For that reason we want to remind everyone to follow a few simple safeguards when buying or refinancing your home:

 1. Insist that you have copies of the final closing documents for your mortgage at least 3-5 days prior to the closing. Tell the lender and mortgage broker that the documents presented at the closing must be identical to the documents you are given prior to closing.

 2. Take those copies to an attorney or someone knowledgeable in lending and/or contracts for review prior to signing.

 3. Take your time at the closing and be sure that you understand every document before you sign. A closing does not have to be done in 30 minutes. You are making a long term commitment involving tens of thousands of dollars in interest alone. Take as long as you need to make sure you are getting the right deal.

 

The recent increase in the number of counterfeit check victims has prompted the District Attorney to provide information about counterfeits and deposited items.

Some victims of counterfeit checks have taken their check to a bank to determine if the checks are legitimate. While a bank may validate the existence of a particular account and confirm that there are available funds to pay that check, if the account holder didn’t write/issue the check- it isn’t any good. And whether a check is “good” or “bad” will not be known until the check “clears.”

Consumers often mistake “available funds” to mean “cleared funds”. “Available funds” are funds your bank has made available to you against your deposit. This does not mean the check has “cleared”. Checks have “cleared” when the bank/financial institution on which the check was written has surrendered funds to the bank/financial institution where the funds were deposited. This process can take up to a week, and, in some cases, longer. The only way to determine that funds have “cleared” is to request that your bank send a check through the collection process. The depositor only gets credit for the deposit when the bank on which the check was written honors the check and transfers funds to the institution where the check was originally deposited. The collection process may lengthen the time to obtain funds and most banks charge a fee for this service.

Consumer Beware : If a consumer uses funds from a check as soon as they are made “available”, he/she may get a rude surprise if the check is determined to be counterfeit. You must return any funds from a counterfeit check to your bank upon demand. You can only recover your funds if you can collect from the person who wrote the “bad” check.

Protect Yourself:

Don’t accept checks from people you do not know and who will be hard to locate should you need to collect on a returned check.

  • Be wary of e-mails appearing to originate from overseas, and don’t respond to unsolicited offers over the internet from people you don’t know.

When selling, renting or leasing something accept payment only for the exact amount of the transaction. Overpayments don’t make sense, and excess funds should NEVER be wired or sent to someone you don’t know!!!

 

The wife of one of our staff members stayed in a hotel in Las Vegas recently. While there she called home several times using her telephone credit card. During one call, a recorded message informed her that Opticom was handling this call. She thought no more of it until she received her next phone bill. The one-minute call through Opticom cost her $32.30! Further investigation revealed that Opticom not only charges a considerably higher rate than most competitors, but they charge for a minimum of four minutes regardless of how brief your call may be. When she contacted her long distance provider about this bill (which appeared on her regular phone bill) she was told there was nothing they could do as they only passed on any bills that were presented to them.

Is this practice legal? Yes! A company can basically charge whatever it wants for its services. The consumer always has the right to decline. In this case, however, what concerns us is that the consumer is not told up front that by placing the call through Opticom he/she will be paying a considerably higher rate than is normal, and that the minimum call length billed will be four (4) minutes.

So caller beware! When you place a long distance call through any vendor other than your contracted phone service, DO NOT assume that what you pay to your regular carrier is also what you will pay to all carriers. If you do not know the terms and conditions for using that service, it may be in your best interest to hang up and get connected with the company you know. (Issued 1/27/2006 )

 

 

March 8, 2007

Not Worth the Paper It’s Written On

The District Attorney’s Fraud Assistance Line is receiving a growing number of calls from victims of counterfeit check scams. In one version of this scam victims are trying to sell an item on the Internet. The victim is contacted by someone who wants to buy what the victim is selling. When payment is received, the check is for more than the purchase price. The perpetrator tells the victim to deposit or cash the check, keep what he/she is entitled to, and wire the balance to an overseas contact. In another version, victims are offered part-time employment. Their job is to receive checks from the U.S. customers of a foreign company. The victim is instructed to deposit the checks in his/her bank account, keep a portion of each check as commission, and wire the balance to the overseas “company”.

The District Attorney wants you to know that these are scams. The checks are counterfeits of checks from real companies or financial institutions. If you take them to the bank for verification, you may be told that the funds are available for use. But in a few weeks the bank will contact you, tell you the checks are counterfeit, and demand you return all of the money. You are responsible for returning the funds, and any money you wired to another party is lost.

If you receive a check from an unknown source with instructions to wire some or all to another party, DO NOT CASH OR DEPOSIT THE CHECK, AND DO NOT WIRE ANY FUNDS TO ANYONE WHO SENDS YOU ONE OF THESE CHECKS. There is no money to be gained, but a lot of money can be lost – YOURS!

I am currently looking for volunteers who will be liaisons between the District Attorney's Fraud Prevention Program and local communities in the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties).  Persons chosen will be given training and will represent and help promote the fraud prevention program in their communities.  If you or someone you know would like to receive training in fraud prevention, and would have from 2-4 hours per week to promote our fraud prevention efforts, please contact me at 720-874-8487.  Volunteers would set their own schedules and would work from home. 


January 17, 2007

YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE

 The District Attorney’s Office has received two reports of area residents receiving threatening e-mails designed to extort a large sum of money, or to scare the recipient. The e-mails are identical and the author claims to have a contract for $50,000 to kill the person receiving the e-mail, but if the victim will pay $80,000 the hired killer will not fulfill the contract. The writer warns the victim not to call the police because he/she will know if that happens and will have to complete the contract.

We believe this to be a scam, and believe that there is no hired killer who has a contract on anyone’s life. One possible goal is to frighten the victim into paying a large sum of money to save his/her life. To date the perpetrator has not made any further contact with the victims to try to collect the money. Only the original e-mail has been received. Or the goal may simply be to scare victims, a particular concern with persons who already feel isolated or vulnerable. Regardless of whether the motivation is fraud or a prank, this is a serious matter. Anyone receiving this e-mail should notify their local law enforcement agency immediately, or call the Fraud Assistance Line at 720-874-8547. Under no circumstances should any money be paid or any attempt be made to contact or correspond with the perpetrator. Anyone receiving this e-mail should do nothing without the advice of law enforcement.

A copy of the threatening e-mail may be found on the District Attorney’s website, www.da18.org. Click on “Fraud Alerts”, “Your Money or Your Life” and the hyperlink at the bottom of the page.


The tax man cometh with a new look

Recently, the IRS announced it has contracted with three private debt-collection agencies to go after deadbeat U.S. taxpayers who owe back federal taxes. This poses a potential problem for all of us -- even those of us who do not owe a dime in back taxes. That's because such a move opens up all kinds of potential for abuse at the hands of scam artists posing as collectors commissioned by the IRS. Phony collectors with bogus claims could be coming out of the woodwork, contacting millions of Americans in an attempt to make them believe they owe money.

Your best defense, whether you owe or not, is to be knowledgeable about the program, to know your rights as a taxpayer and to be keenly aware how to identify a scam artist.

1. The IRS does not communicate with taxpayers through e-mail, and it will not e-mail taxpayers about debts turned over to private collectors. If you get an e-mail message that appears to be from the IRS, do not respond. Dismiss it as malicious spam.

2. The IRS will never ask you for any passwords or PIN numbers that would give the agency access to your bank or credit-card accounts. If you are asked to give this information, dismiss it as fraudulent.

3. You will know the contact is legitimate when you get a letter from the IRS that names the company handling your debts. This letter will also include information advising you of your rights as a taxpayer. It will be followed by another letter from the collection agency telling you that you will soon be contacted for payment. Both letters will specify the amount you owe.

4. Taxpayers chosen for debt collection through one of these private collectors will make their checks payable to the IRS, not to a private company. If you are directed to make your check payable to any entity other than the IRS, dismiss this as a scam.

5. If you are found to owe taxes by one of these authorized collection agencies, you can set up an agreement to pay your debt in installments over a three-year period.

6. If you are one of the taxpayers turned over to one of these private companies for collection, you can opt out of and demand that the IRS handle your case. However, you need to do this in writing and then be prepared to cooperate fully with the IRS.

Need help with your tax situation? Contact the Colorado Taxpayer Advocate Service, an office that helps people resolve their problems with the IRS 303-446-1012.




November 9, 2006
DON’T PANIC IF THE ORDER IS NOT YOURS

Recent callers to our fraud line have received e-mails confirming that a purchase was about to be shipped to them. In each case the e-mail says the item is being charged to their credit card, and in the event they wish to cancel the order, they can do so by filling out a simple form that is provided with the e-mail. Notifying a customer that his order has shipped is not an unusual event. What makes these events worth mentioning is that in each case the person receiving the e-mail did NOTorder anything. It is a scam! The sender of the e-mail is trying to get the victim to provide personal information (credit card number, password or pin, bank account, etc.) in order to stop an erroneous charge to the victim’s credit card.

What should you do if you receive one of these e-mails?

1. Don’t panic. That is exactly what the perpetrator wants you to do. He or she wants you to respond to the e-mails without thinking. Take a deep breathe and think about how you should respond.

2. Under no circumstances provide the information requested in the e-mail. Save the e-mail in case it is requested by your credit card company or by law enforcement, but do not respond to it. Any communication should be with your credit card company, not the person who sent you the e-mail.

3. Review your credit card statement as soon as you receive it. If someone has put a fraudulent charge on your account, you have sixty (60) days from the date it first appears on your statement to dispute it. After 60 days you are responsible for the charges, even though you did not authorize them.

October 2, 2006
WARNING: FORT LOGAN DOES NOT CHARGE

We just received a call from a woman alerting us to a new scam targeted to the Denver area. The woman received a letter purported to be from Fort Logan National Cemetery. The letter directed her to send $300.00 to pay expenses related to the April burial of her husband. We contacted Fort Logan and they told us that they would never send a letter requesting payment because all services provided by the cemetery are free. The only charges that the family of someone interred at Fort Logan would incur are the charges from the funeral home. The victim checked with her funeral home before calling us, and they were not the authors of the letter requesting $300.

Everyone should be suspicious of any letter from Fort Logan National Cemetery requesting money for services provided.

Remember, all services provided by Fort Logan are free!
If you receive one of these letters:
1. Save the letter, the envelope and any documents that come with it.
2. Take the documents to your local law enforcement agency and file a complaint.

Before you respond to any letter asking for information or money, look up the number (never allow anyone else to give you the number) and call the company or agency which sent the letter and confirm that it is legitimate.

Whether you receive a letter or not, tell your family, friends and neighbors about this scam. Especially tell anyone that may have a loved one recently buried at Fort Logan.


August 17, 2006
INTERNET PHISHING SCAM - FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has received numerous notifications from consumers of an e-mail that has the appearance of being sent from the FDIC. The "From" line of the e-mail displays the name "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation" and the subject includes the phrase "IMPORTANT: Notification of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation."

The e-mail states that the FDIC received an application. It says, in part:

"…from your bank to ensure your Checking or Savings account against Fraud, phishing or Identity Theft. If u agree with the following, PLEASE ENROLL in the FDIC protection system."

The e-mail is fraudulent and was not sent by the FDIC. It is an attempt to obtain personal financial information from consumers. The e-mail requests that recipients click on a hyperlink that is provided, which directs the recipient to a "spoofed" Web page. The Web page appears to belong to the FDIC and requests information, such as: name, phone number, Social Security number, mother's maiden name, driver's license/issuing state, date of birth, e-mail address, postal address, credit/debit/ATM card number, card expiration date, card verification number, personal identification number (PIN), bank name, bank routing number, and bank account number.

Financial institutions and consumers should NOT access the link provided within the body of the e-mail and should NOT, under any circumstances, provide any personal financial information through this media. The FDIC is attempting to identify the source of the e-mails and disrupt the transmission.



Fraud Prevention News
August, 2006

MORTGAGE FRAUD

Mortgage fraud is a large and growing problem throughout the U.S., and Colorado

is no exception. Colorado currently ranks fifth in the nation in mortgage fraud complaints, which is part of the reason that Colorado is first in the nation in foreclosures. In light of these developments the District Attorney’s Office has initiated an effort which brings together law enforcement, state and federal agencies, and the mortgage industry to address this problem. The program was launched on August 4 th when the D.A.’s Office hosted a one-day seminar on understanding the mortgage process. Eighty-four attendees from finance, law enforcement and various regulatory agencies received instruction on the steps to buying and financing a home, from appraisal through foreclosure. Experts from the lending and real estate fields led the sessions. In the coming weeks leaders from the mortgage and real estate fields will be meeting with staff from the District Attorney’s Office to devise a plan for reducing mortgage fraud in the 18 th Judicial District.

 

FRAUD ASSISTANCE LINE CALLS CONTINUE TO INCREASE

The District Attorney’s Assistance Line has received over 2000 calls since it’s inception two years ago. The help line is available to all residents of the 18 TH Judicial District (Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties), and can assist those who have been a victim of fraud or those who have questions about fraud or fraud related issues. The number to call is:720-874-8547

 

NEW SEMINARS ADDED

Three new seminars have been added to the fraud prevention program.

Safe at Home
Safe on the Street
The Wise Consumer

While the first two are loaded with recommendations for protecting yourself at home and away, The Wise Consumer helps consumers avoid many of the traps that buyers fall into. These three seminars are in addition to the seven programs on fraud prevention. ALL seminars are free to non-profit organizations. Businesses and for-profits are asked to make a donation to the District Attorney’s fraud prevention program. Brochures are available which explain each of our ten seminars and a copy of each will be sent shortly. Additional copies may be obtained by calling 720-874-8547, or e-mailing CASE@da18.state.co.us.

 

IDENTITY THEFT DVD

A cooperative effort between the DA’s Office, Aurora Channel 8, and Curbside Data Control has resulted in the production of a 30 minute DVD on identity theft called “Identity Theft: Real Problems-Real Solutions”. Curbside Data Control funded the program, Channel 8 filmed and created the final product, and the District Attorney’s Office wrote the script. Copies of the DVD are available for loan to organizations and clubs, or they can be purchased. A limited number of copies will be given to senior centers, libraries and law enforcement agencies free of charge. If you have questions or would like a loaner copy, please call Mason Finks at 720-874-8487.
For further information on the District Attorney’s Fraud Prevention Program, contact Mason Finks at 720-874-8487.



February 24, 2006
Public Warned about Identity Theft E-mail Scam

Jo Anne Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security, and Patrick O’Carroll, Jr., Inspector General of Social Security, issued a warning today about a new email scam that has surfaced recently.

The Agency has received several reports of an email message being circulated addressed to " Dear Social Security Number And Card owner" and purporting to be from the Social Security Administration. The message informs the reader " that someone illegally is using your Social Security number and assuming your identity" and directs the reader to a website designed to look like Social Security’s Internet website.

"I am outraged that someone would target an unsuspecting public in this manner," said Commissioner Barnhart. "I have asked the Inspector General to use all the resources at his command to find and prosecute whoever is perpetrating this fraud."

Once directed to the phony website, the individual is asked to confirm their identity with " Social Security and bank information." Specific information about the individual’s credit card number, expiration date and PIN number is then requested. "Whether on our online website or by phone, Social Security will never ask you for your credit card information or your PIN number," Commissioner Barnhart said.

Inspector General O’Carroll recommends people always take precautions when giving out personal information. "You should never provide your Social Security number or other personal information over the Internet or by telephone unless you are extremely confident of the source to whom you are providing the information," O’Carroll said.

To report receipt of this email message or other suspicious activity to Social Security’s Office of Inspector General, please call the OIG Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the OIG TTY number at 1-866-501-2101). A Public Fraud Reporting form is also available online at OIG’s website www.socialsecurity.gov/oig.

SSA Press Office 440 Altmeyer Building 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore , MD 21235 410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

Need help?     Call the D.A.’s Fraud Assistance Line     720-874.8547


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January 27, 2006
Lottery Scam Returns

Within a thirty minute period, the District Attorney’s Office received notice that a version of the Canadian Lottery Scam is flooding the United States , and a local woman called to report that she was a victim of that very scam. This is how the scam works:

The victim receives a notice in the mail declaring that he/she has won a large prize in the Canadian Lottery. Included in the envelope is a cashier’s check for several thousand dollars. The check is to cover expenses that have to be paid before the victim can claim his/her winnings. The victim is instructed to cash or deposit the check and send the money back to Canada to pay those expenses. The winnings will be sent as soon as the money is returned. The check, while looking very real, is a fake. By the time the victim discovers that the check is a fake, he/she has already sent his/her own “good” check to someone unknown, and often untraceable. To protect yourself:

1. Never deposit or spend any funds received from an unknown source until you have verified its authenticity. Take it to your bank and ask them to determine if it is real.

2. If you receive notice that you won a prize in a lottery or sweepstakes, stop and think before you do anything.

- Did you enter the contest? If you did not enter you cannot be a winner.

- Are you being asked to send any money for fees, taxes, shipping, etc. in order to claim your prize? In a legitimate contest, you never have to pay any money before receiving your prize.

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Need help?     Call the D.A.’s Fraud Assistance Line     720-874.8547



January 3, 2006
THIS REFUND WILL COST YOU

Consumers are receiving e-mails informing them that they are eligible for a tax refund. The e-mails, which claim to be from the IRS, direct the recipient to a link where he/she is supposed to provide personal information, such as a Social Security number and credit card information. This scheme is an attempt to trick the e-mail recipients into disclosing their personal and financial data. The practice is called "phishing" (pronounced fishing), because the sender is “fishing” for your personal information.

What should you do if you receive an e-mail claiming you have a tax refund coming?

1. Know that the IRS does not ask for personal identifying or financial information via unsolicited e-mail. Additionally, taxpayers do not have to complete a special form to obtain a refund.

2. Delete the e-mail without opening it. Just by opening the e-mail you might release a virus or other malicious program into your computer. It is always best to delete without opening any e-mail that comes form someone you do not know.

3. Apply Rules 1 & 2 to any unsolicited e-mail that asks for personal information. NEVER GIVE ANY INFORMATION TO A STRANGER! If you do, it will probably cost you!

Need help?     Call the D.A.’s Fraud Assistance Line     720-874.8547

 

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November 10, 2005
DON'T PAY WHAT YOU DON'T OWE


Our office received a call from a small business owner who found an unexplained $8.50 charge on his phone bill. He called the company that submitted the charge and was told that the charge was for a “discounted directory assistance service”, which he had not ordered. Seems like a pretty minor matter, so why mention it? Because it is not a minor matter. Many millions of dollars are lost each year by consumers who do not closely monitor their phone bill, credit card, bank and other statements for unauthorized charges. To protect yourself:

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1. Open invoices and statements the day they arrive, and examine them carefully for unauthorized transactions. Many scammers apply small amounts to your bill in the hope you will not notice such a small amount, but the amount will be there each month until you stop it.

2. Report any problems immediately. You may be held responsible for unauthorized charges if you do not report them within a certain time. For example, false credit card charges must be reported within 60 days of their first appearance on your statement.

3. Always read the fine print before signing anything! Some apparently unauthorized charges may in reality be something you did authorize. You just didn’t know it. You entered a drawing or cashed a small check you received in the mail as a “thank you” gift. Hidden in the fine print may be a statement that by accepting the “free” gift or entering the contest, you are also agreeing to take another service or product; and it will not be free.

Need help?     Call the D.A.’s Fraud Assistance Line     720-874.8547



Fraud Alert Logo.gif


CONSUMER BULLETIN
An advisory bulletin for consumers from the
District Attorney for the 18 th Judicial District,
Carol Chambers

The wife of one of our staff members stayed in a hotel in Las Vegas recently. While there she called home several times using her telephone credit card. During one call, a recorded message informed her that Opticom was handling this call. She thought no more of it until she received her next phone bill. The one-minute call through Opticom cost her $32.30! Further investigation revealed that Opticom not only charges a considerably higher rate than most competitors, but they charge for a minimum of four minutes regardless of how brief your call may be. When she contacted her long distance provider about this bill (which appeared on her regular phone bill) she was told there was nothing they could do as they only passed on any bills that were presented to them.

Is this practice legal? Yes! A company can basically charge whatever it wants for its services. The consumer always has the right to decline. In this case, however, what concerns us is that the consumer is not told up front that by placing the call through Opticom he/she will be paying a considerably higher rate than is normal, and that the minimum call length billed will be four (4) minutes.

So caller beware! When you place a long distance call through any vendor other than your contracted phone service, DO NOT assume that what you pay to your regular carrier is also what you will pay to all carriers. If you do not know the terms and conditions for using that service, it may be in your best interest to hang up and get connected with the company you know. (Issued 1/27/2006)

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CONSUMER BULLETIN
An advisory bulletin for consumers from
District Attorney Carol Chambers Issued February 24, 2006

Our office has received calls from several consumers who are being pursued by collection agencies for very old bills that the consumers do not believe are theirs. In one case the alleged debt was 12 years old, and in another the debt was 16 years old. The collection agencies are very insistent that the debt belongs to the consumer in spite of the fact they do not have a copy of the original invoice or court judgment. Two consumers paid the debts that they believed were not theirs rather than risk damage to their credit reports.

Is this practice legal? An attempt to collect an unpaid debt can occur at any time, even many years later. Under Colorado law a collection agency cannot collect a debt through the courts once the debt is six (6) years old. But the debt does not go away! The agency can use other means to collect that debt. The Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act explains both the debtor’s and the collector’s rights in any collection action. A printout explaining the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (in layman’s language) can be acquired from the District Attorney’s Office by calling the Fraud Assistance Line or by e-mailing your request to C.A.S.E. @da18.state.co.us.

Have questions or need assistance? Call the District Attorney’s Fraud Assistance Line
720-874-8547


Fraud Alert Logo.gif

.IDENTITY THEFT HANDBOOK
PRODUCED BY THE CASE PARTNERSHIP
OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE,
18 TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF COLORADO
(ARAPAHOE, DOUGLAS , ELBERT AND LINCOLN COUNTIES )

7305 SOUTH POTOMAC STREET, SUITE 300
CENTENNIAL , COLORADO 80112

 The following quiz will help you identify the probability that you may become a victim of Identity Theft.

1. My mail is delivered to an unlocked mail box. Yes - 10 points ____

2. I pay bills with checks and place them in my mailbox or in a corner postal box. Yes - 10 points ____

3. I do not use direct deposit or electronic transfer for paychecks, refund or insurance claims checks. Yes - 10 points ____

4. I carry a purse or wear my wallet in my back pocket. Yes - 10 points ____

5. I have at least one item in my wallet that contains my Social Security number. Yes - 10 points ____

6. I keep my auto registration, insurance card, checkbook, credit card receipts, or other identifying information in my car. Yes - 10 points ____

7. I do not shred banking/credit information before trashing. Yes - 10 points ____

8. I have not ordered copies of my credit report in over a year. Yes - 10 points ____

9. I have not called the credit reporting agencies’ “Opt Out Line” to be removed from credit card solicitations. (Page 8, Item 2) Yes - 10 points ____

10. I have not “opted out” of my credit card marketing programs and receive “convenience” checks on my account in the mail. Yes - 10 points ____

11. I have responded to e-mails or telephone calls from my Internet provider, financial institution, airlines, or companies like eBay or PayPal requesting verification of account numbers or passwords.
Yes - 10 points ____

12. I use e-commerce, but do not use a secure browser, or I have high-speed internet service but no firewall protection. Yes - 10 points ____

13. I have not notified the credit reporting agencies of the death of a relative or friend (letter and copy of death certificate.) Yes - 5 points ____

14. I throw away my annual Social Security Earnings Statement without reviewing it Yes - 5 points ____

MY ITP SCORE: _________

SCORING

80+ points - You are at high risk of being an ID theft victim. We recommend you use the attached check list to reduce your vulnerability.

30-80 points - Your odds of being victimized are about average. Higher if you have good credit. Use the attached check list to identify additional changes that will reduce your risk.

0-30 points - Congratulations. You have a high "IQ." Keep up the good work, but check the attached list for anything you may have overlooked.  

REMEMBER

On this quiz the higher your score, the greater your risk of becoming a victim of Identity Theft!

Minimizing Your Risk

1. Carry any document with sensitive information in a close fitting pouch or in your front pocket, not in your purse or wallet. Sensitive documents include driver’s license, credit & debit cards, checks, car registration and anything with your Social Security Number.

2. Don’t carry your checkbook in public. Carry only the checks you need.

3. If possible r emove anything from your wallet containing your SSN, including your Social Security card, Medicare card, military ID card. If your SSN is on your Driver’s License – get a new license.

4. Don’t give any part of your Social Security, credit card or bank account numbers over the phone, e-mail or Internet, unless you have initiated the contact to a verifiable company or financial institution.

5. Request a free copy of your credit reports once a year (see page 8, Item 3).

6. Notify the credit reporting agencies of the death of a relative or friend to block the misuse of the deceased person’s credit.

7. Call your bank and credit card customer service and ask to “opt out” of ALL marketing programs, including ‘convenience’ checks mailings. .

8. Call the Credit Card Offer Opt Out Line to reduce number of credit card solicitations you receive. See page 8, Item 2).

9. Shred pre-approved credit card offers, convenience checks and any document containing sensitive information, preferably with a crosscut shredder.

10. Mail bills to be paid at the Post Office, not in your mailbox or in street corner postal boxes. Better yet, use automated payment plans or pay bills online.

11. Have paychecks, benefit and pension checks direct deposited to your account. Ask the IRS, nsurance companies and others to send refund payments electronically, not through the mail. 12. Ask your bank or credit union to receive your box of new checks, rather than have them mailed to your home.

13. Do not keep your auto registration, insurance card, checkbook, receipts, or other identifying information in your car. Carry them in a secure manner on your person. Do not leave your car unlocked or unattended.

14. Check your earnings record at least annually and more often if you suspect your SSN has been compromised (it’s free and there is no limit to how often you may request it.) Contact the Social Security Administration (see page 9, Item 8) and ask for Form SSA-7004, Request for Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement.

Computer Precautions

1. Don’t respond to e-mails asking to submit personal data. The message might include fancy graphics, trademark symbols and an authentic-looking e-mail address, but all of that can be faked. Here are some ways to tell:

- The message tries to scare you saying your account needs to be verified or updated.

- The message threatens negative action -- canceling your account, for example -- if you fail to take the requested action immediately.

- The message asks you to click on a link to update your information or to submit information through a button.  Legitimate emails from companies will not contain a link, but will ask you to close out the message, open the company’s Internet Web site, and use your name and password to update the required information.  Never click on a link provided in the message!

- The message appears to come from a company with whom you do business, but it calls you "Dear Customer" instead of your name.

No legitimate company or agency will send an e-mail asking you to verify personal information.

2. Delete unknown or questionable e-mails without opening.

3. Every computer should be equipped with virus and spyware protection software. And be sure to keep your virus protection program updated.

4. Use a firewall program, especially if you use a high-speed connection like cable, DSL or T-1, which connects your computer 24 hours a day. The firewall program allows you to stop uninvited guests from accessing your computer. Without it, hackers can take over your computer, access personal information stored on it, or use your computer to commit crimes.

5. Use a secure browser - software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet - to guard the security of online transactions. Be sure your browser has up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer. When submitting information, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar to ensure your information is secure during transmission.

Your Consumer and Victim Rights

Federal Rights

You have the right to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies.

If you dispute credit report information, credit bureaus must resolve your dispute within 30 days and send you written notice of the results of the investigation within five days of its completion, including a copy of the credit report, if it has changed.

You have the right to “Opt Out” of your credit card company’s and bank’s marketing programs, including “convenience checks” sent on your credit card account by calling the customer service numbers.

You have the right to “Opt Out” of credit card solicitations by calling the Credit Card Offer “Opt Out Line” (see page 8, Item 2). The automated system will ask you to enter your SSN but that is okay because you are making the phone call.

You have the right to dispute unauthorized checking transactions within 30 days of receiving your bank statement with $50 liability protection.

You have the right to dispute unauthorized credit card transactions within 60 days of receiving your statement with $50 liability protection.

Colorado Rights

You have the right to request a courtesy police report in the community in which you live or in the community where you know the theft occurred.

You have the right to send a copy of your police report or FTC Affidavit to the credit bureaus to protect your credit file.

You have the right to have your SSN removed from your driver’s license and health insurance cards.

You have the right to sue an identity theft perpetrator for damage to reputation or credit rating, punitive damages, and attorney fees, regardless of whether the perpetrator was criminally convicted.

You have the right to have your identity verified by credit card solicitors before they send a credit card to an address different than yours.

You have the right to ask businesses, non-profit and government agencies about their policy for disposal of personal identifying documents.

Must I provide a Social Security number (SSN) to any business or government agency that asks?

Reprinted from the Social Security Administration Website, www.ssa.gov

The Social Security number (SSN) was originally devised to keep an accurate record of each individual’s earnings, and to subsequently monitor benefits paid under the Social Security program. However, use of the SSN as a general identifier has grown to the point where it is the most commonly used and convenient identifier for all types of record-keeping systems in the United States .

Specific laws require a person to provide his/her SSN for certain purposes. While we cannot give you a comprehensive list of all situations where an SSN might be required or requested, an SSN is required/requested by:

  • Internal Revenue Service for tax returns and federal loans
  • Employers for wage and tax reporting purposes
  • States for the school lunch program
  • Banks for monetary transactions
  • Veterans Administration as a hospital admission number
  • Department of Labor for workers’ compensation
  • Department of Education for Student Loans
  • States to administer any tax, general public assistance, motor vehicle or drivers license law within its jurisdiction
  • States for child support enforcement, and for support to needy families
  • States for r commercial driver’s licenses
  • States for Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Unemployment Compensation
  • U.S. Treasury for U.S. Savings Bonds

The Privacy Act regulates the use of SSNs by government agencies. When a Federal, State, or local government agency asks an individual to disclose his or her Social Security number, the Privacy Act equires the agency to inform the person of the following: the statutory or other authority for requesting the information; whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary; what uses will be made of the information; and the consequences, if any, of failure to provide the information.

If a business or other enterprise asks you for your SSN, you can refuse to give it. However, that may mean doing without the purchase or service for which your number was requested. For example, utility companies and other services ask for a Social Security number, but do not need it; they can do a credit check or identify the person in their records by alternative means.

Giving your number is voluntary, even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask why your number is needed, how your number will be used, what law requires you to give your number and what the consequences are if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number. The decision is yours.

For more detailed information, we recommend the publication at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10002.html.

 

Resources

1. Banks

To check on the validity of a call or e-mail, or to report fraud:
First Bank 303-680-7000 (ask for Brad)
Key Bank 800-433-0124
US Bank 303-933-5405
Wells Fargo : 1-866-867-5568

2. Credit Card Offer “Opt Out” Program

To stop credit card offers or unwanted credit cards, use the “OPT OUT” Program. There is no charge for this service. You will need to give your Social Security Number. 1-888-567-8688 (toll free) www.optoutprescreen.com

3. Credit Reporting Agencies

To request a FREE copy of your Credit Report from all three credit reposting agencies, use one of the following: (You will need to give your Social Security Number). Website: www.annualcreditreport.com   Phone: 877-322-8228 Or download a copy of the Annual Credit Request Form at: www.annualcreditreport.com and mail it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta , GA 30348-5281

If you are unable to download the request form, contact the CASE Assistance Line at 720-874-8547 and we will mail you a copy.

To report theft or unauthorized use of your credit card or Social Security Number, call:

Equifax        1-800-525-6285
Experian      1-888-397-3742
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
Innovis         1-800-540-2505

4. ID Theft Assistance

Resolving the consequences of identity theft is left largely to the victims. Act quickly and assertively, and keep records/copies of all contacts and reports.

The District Attorney’s Office has created an ID Theft Workbook to help you in repairing the damage from identity theft. To request a free copy, call the CASE Assistance Line at: 720-874-8547 .

You are not responsible for losses from ID theft. Your credit should not be permanently affected and no legal action should be taken. Cooperate, but don’t be coerced into paying a fraudulent debt.

5. Internal Revenue Contacts

To verify that the IRS actually sent a notice, call 1-800-829-1040

To report an IRS related fraud, call the tax-fraud referral hot line 1-800-366-4484

6. Legal Assistance

University of Denver Student Law Office
      303-871-6140, Office 335      E-mail: lsaraceno@law.du.edu

Colorado Legal Assistance (low income)
      303-837-1313 www.coloradolegalservices.org

Metropolitan Lawyer Referral Service, Inc.
      303-831-8000 www.mlrsonline.org

7. Opt Out Of Commercial E-Mail And Direct Mail

To eliminate much of the junk mail filling your mailbox, contact the Mail Preference Service and send the following letter:

Mail Preference Service
PO Box 643
Carmel , NY 10512

To Whom It Concern:
Please remove my name from your marketing lists. Thank you for your attention to this matter. My name and address are:

Your name
Your mailing address
City, State, Zip Code

Or you can go to their website and register on-line at: www.dmaconsumers.org

8. Social Security Administration

To obtain a copy of your Request for Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (Form SSA-7004): Call: 1-800-772-1213

You may request the form online at:http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement/   OR Download the form at: http://www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.html 

If you are unable to download this form, call the CASE Assistance Line at 720-874-8547 and we will mail you a copy.

 

CASE RESOURCES

CALL THE CASE ASSISTANCE LINE, 720-874-8547, for questions relating to fraud and fraud prevention, to enroll your organization in the case partnership, or to schedule a fraud prevention seminar.

The District Attorney’s Website, www.da18.org, displays past and current FRAUD ALERTS, a schedule of fraud prevention seminars, and information on the CASE Program.

TO REPORT FRAUD

In Arapahoe, Douglas , Lincoln and Elbert Counties : Call the CASE Assistance Line: 720-874-8547

In Denver City and County: Call the District Attorney’s Fraud Line: 720-913-9179

In Adams/Broomfield Counties: Call the District Attorney’s Fraud Line: 303-835-5633

In Boulder County : Call the Boulder County District Attorney: 303-441-3700

In Jefferson/Gilpin Counties: Call the District Attorney’s Fraud Line: 303-271-6931

 


Dear CASE Partner:

In addition to the fraud prevention seminars we offer through the District Attorney's Office, there is another very informative program that you may want to schedule for your organization. Please read on.

Pat Brady, Director of the Child Support Division of the District Attorney's Office (18th Judicial District), is available as a speaker for your next meeting. Pat will make a short presentation on the services offered through the Child Support Division. This division establishes, modifies, and enforces child support orders. In 2005, the unit collected over $35,000,000 (thirty-five million dollars) in child support. That is not a mistake - over $35 million dollars in one year alone. For a mere $20 fee a wide variety of services are available to those who are dealing with child support issues. To schedule Pat as a speaker for your next meeting, call her at (720) 874-8758.

 

Barbara Martin-Worley & Mason Finks
District Attorney’s Office,
18th Judicial District
Phone: 720-874-8487

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