Problems related to fraud increase significantly each year. The following true-or-false questions were developed by the Denver District Attorney’s office. The site is on the Web at www.denverda.org.
1. It’s safer to carry and use credit cards rather than checks.
ANSWER: True. Identity thieves say that it’s much easier to counterfeit checks than credit cards. In addition, credit card issuers are more likely to monitor your accounts and notify you of potential fraud.
2. There’s nothing you can do about all those credit card applications you receive.
ANSWER: False. If you receive numerous credit card applications, the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Trans Union, Experian) are marketing your name to credit card companies. Get off their lists by calling the Opt Out Line 1-888-567-8688 – you will have to give your Social Security number.
3. Once you have subscribed to the Colorado No-Call list, you do not have to worry about telemarketers.
ANSWER: False. Although most consumer subscribers have had a dramatic decrease in telemarketing calls, there are exemptions. You may legally be called by nonprofit and charitable organizations, politicians and political parties and companies where you have an existing business relationship, such as phone companies. And unfortunately, the No-Call list will never stop criminal telemarketers, so be cautious of calls that ask you to send money or give your credit card number to win a lottery, subscribe to magazines or to get credit card protection.
4. As long as you don’t send money or buy any products, playing sweepstakes is harmless entertainment.
ANSWER: False. When you play sweepstakes, your name is frequently put on marketing lists bought and sold by other direct marketers. Eventually, your name can end up on criminal telemarketing lists.
5. Work-at-home opportunities, like stuffing envelopes, are a legitimate way to make some extra spending money.
ANSWER: False. Work-at-home promotions offered in ads, fliers and street signs that offer high income with little work are generally deceptive. After paying an up-front fee to get information, respondents find that, instead of learning how to set up a legitimate home business, they are required to pull the same scheme on others by putting up signs, taking out ads, etc. Work-at-home schemes are illegal, and if you participate by taking money from others, you may be prosecuted.
6. Securities dealers and investment brokers are regulated in Colorado.
ANSWER: True. Colorado’s Division of Securities licenses and monitors securities dealers and investment brokers. Financial planners, bankers, insurance agents and others who sell investment products are required to have securities licenses. If you are concerned about proposed investment opportunities, call the Division of Securities at (303) 894-2320 to determine the legitimacy and safety of the investment.
For more information about identify fraud, visit the Denver DA’s Web site at www.denverda.org and click on "Crimes Against Seniors – CASE partnership" under DA programs. The fraud tips are important for everyone to know.
by Judy McKenna, Ph.D., CFP, Family Economics Specialist, Colorado State University, Cooperative Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org, 491-5772