Posted by Sue Bolton
Detective Stephen Desmond of the Longmont Police Department provided us with a wealth of information about How to Protect Against Identity Theft and Fraud.  He named several groups responsible for the problem here in Longmont:  Asian and Russian mafia, Nigerian, Canadian, & East European scammers, as well as local meth addicts.  He warned against counterfeit checks (which can bounce back up to a year after transaction), deals that sound “too good to be true,” phone and internet scams such as fake Lotteries, telemarketing,  the Grandparent Scam, Online dating and Phishing.  Because scammers have gotten quite sophisticated, DO NOT be fooled by an email with your bank’s logo, especially if you notice grammar and spelling mistakes in the text.  Watch out for fake ATM’s, skimmers on gas pumps, etc.  In general, credit cards are safer than debit cards, and the ones with a chip are best.
Beware also of Roofing, Tree Trimming and Paving Companies that solicit business door-to-door.  Check Better Business Bureau and get references for this type of service.  Mail checks from a secure drop box or the post office.  The raised flag on a home mailbox is a signal for people who want to steal.  Checks can be laundered and changed, unless you use a gel pen.
Noting that almost everyone will be a victim sooner or later, Stephen gave us some general suggestions to minimize the risk:
  • Check your credit card and bank statements regularly
  • Photocopy your credit cards, expensive items, electronics, bikes and serial numbers
  • Shred sensitive documents
  • Use one credit card for all online purchases
  • Don’t open emails from people you don’t know
  • HANG UP on telemarketers or anyone that seems to be a con artist
  • Have a separate email address for junk mail
  • Register on the Do Not Call list