Scams & Counterfeit Money & Checks
SCAMS & COUNTERFEIT MONEY & CHECKS Protect yourself against Phishing and Smishing scams. Phishing is when you may receive an email from what appears to be a reputable company whom you may do business with such as your bank or possibly a government entity. You could be redirected to a phony website that may look exactly like the real thing and then you may be asked for personal information such as your social security number, account numbers, passwords or other important information. Then they can access your accounts or assume your identity. Smishing uses cell phone text messages to “bait” you to divulge your personal information and usually in the text message there may be a web site URL or phone number wanting a response. You should never respond to messages that may warn of dire consequences or asking to respond immediately. Contact the company, bank or government agency directly to confirm the validity of the request.
Telephone scams work in the same manner. If they request for you to send money or wire money, do not do so no matter who you think it may be. A noted scam in the area is when they pretend to be a grandchild in trouble needing money due to being in legal trouble. They will ask that you not tell anyone. Contact your family members by phone numbers that you have or have other family members do that for you. Someone may also call you pretending to help with trouble with your computer. Do not give them any information on your computer or about your computer.
Fraud & Identity Theft Prevention
How can you protect yourself?
- Do not give out your personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you initiated the contact and make sure you know who you are doing business with. If any doubt, DON’T DO IT. Remember, Commercial Bank or other reputable places you do business with should not be asking for information they will already have.
- Carefully review all your bills and account statements, making sure you are receiving them timely.
- Review and monitor your credit report at least annually. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from www.annualcreditreport.com or 877-322-8228
- Do not open or respond to unknown emails. Be very careful as some will disguise themselves to look like a company or person you know.
- Keep your social security numbers, passwords and other user name and PIN numbers secure. Never give them or share them with others.
- Keep a copy of your important wallet contents in a safe, separate location in case it is stolen. Always keep your wallet/purse in a safe location. A locked car is not considered a safe place.
- Keep your phone, password protected, since many people use their phones like wallets with personal information and credit cards on them.
- When submitting financial information to website, look for the padlock or key icon at the bottom of your browser and make sure the internet address begins with “https.” This signals that your information is secure during the transmission.
What to do if you become a victim?
- Notify your bank immediately to report any suspected fraud. You can contact The Colorado Bank and Trust Company at 719-384-8131 or 800-799-8131 so we may restrict and close any affected accounts. You should also contact all other creditors and file a police report and complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-IDTHEFT or www.ftc.gov
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus to place fraud alerts and monitor your credit reports:
Equifax 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
Experian 1-888-EXPERIAN www.experian.com
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 www.transunion.com
Other helpful links:
Federal trade commission identity theft website: www.ftc.gov
Consumers guide to credit reports and credit scores: www.federalreserve.gov/creditreports
Internet fraud compliant center: www.ifccfbi.cov
Financial Elder Abuse
Elderly adults are a prime target for financial exploitation which can be perpetrated by caregivers, family members and outside parties. Financial elder abuse is when an elderly person’s money or property is being used in an unauthorized way. Some examples include:
- Taking money or property
- Forging signatures
- Getting the elderly individual to sign a deed, will or power of attorney through deception or undue influence.
- Using the individual’s property without permission.
- Promising lifelong care in exchange for money or property and not following through on the promise.
- Many common scams are considered financial elder abuse as they prey on the victims using scare tactics to get them to send them money.
Caregivers are the most common source of abuse as they typically have unlimited access to an elderly adult’s funds and properties as they care for them. The exploitation is recognized when a caregiver wrongly uses an elderly adult’s cash, bank accounts, income or personal items. If you notice that the caregiver is using funds for their own benefit instead of the elderly adult and/or the caregiver is not providing for the personal needs of an elder, financial abuse may be occurring.
Unfortunately, elder abuse happens daily and Colorado is a mandatory reporting state. To report mistreatment or self-neglect of an at risk adult call the County Department of Social (Human) Services in your County. For general information on the Elder Rights and Adult Protection please call the Colorado Coalition or Elder Rights and Adult Protection at 303-866-2849.
Computer / Internet / Email / Social Media Security
While social media is a great place for people to share and communicate with friends and family, it poses risks to users. The social manipulators/hackers know that individuals are a weak link in cyber security and will prey on them. Some specialize in writing and manipulating computer code to gain access or install unwanted software on your computer or phone. There are others who exploit personal connections through social networks who are sometimes called social engineers. Once information is posted to a social networking site, it is no longer private and the more information you post, the more vulnerable you become.
Important preventative measures are:
- Do not store any information you want to protect on any device that connects to the internet
- Use anti-virus and firewall software, keeping them, your browser, and operating systems patched and updated.
- Always use high security settings on social networking sites and limit the personal information you share. Monitor what others post about you.
- Change your passwords periodically and do not reuse old passwords.
- Verify those you correspond with as it is easy for someone to fake identities over the internet.
- Do not automatically download or respond to content on a website or in an email. Do not click on links to retrieve messages but go directly to the website.
- Only use software from trusted sources. Once installed, keep it updated.
- Avoid accessing your personal accounts form public computers through public computers and public Wi-Fi spots.
- Disable your global position system as sometimes if you upload a photograph it will divulge your GPS coordinates as well.
- Beware of unsolicited contacts from individuals in person, on the telephone, or on the internet who are seeking corporate or personal data.
You should not share personal information such as, usernames, passwords, social security numbers, credit cards, and bank information. Others to not share either are computer network details, security clearances, capabilities and limitations of work systems or schedules and travel itineraries.
Check out ftc.gov/exploredata to know what others in the world are seeing. To keep us with the latest scams, and what the FTC is doing, sign up to get Consumer Alerts. And please keep reporting what you’re seeing at ftc.gov/complaint.