Cyber Crime and Scam Prevention Tips

Identity Theft Precautions

  • Check your credit report at least annually and beware of impostor websites. Click here for more information from the Federal Trade Commission. 
  • Do not carry your social security card with you. Resist providing it to others unless absolutely necessary.
  • Do not give out personal information to anyone unless you are certain you know the person you are dealing with.
  • If an online business contacted you about a purchase, without your request, your information is most likely compromised.
  • Keep your personal information in a secure place, especially if you have roommates, employ help, or are having work done in your home.
  • Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Either call 1-877-IDTHEFT, or click here to file a report online.
  • Shred any unused documents that contain personal information.

Your Electronic Devices

  • Backup your data regularly, ideally keep three copies - two copies on two different devices (on your computer and on an external hard drive), and one stored off-site (cloud or private storage).
  • Be aware of phishing scams, and be suspicious of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or fliers.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi, or if you must, utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • For services that provide it, utilize Two-Factor or Multi-Factor authentication that require more than one authentication to access personal information.
  • If subject to any internet crime, file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Click here to file a complaint online.
  • Never click on links in unsolicited emails. Hover over links to see where it directs to.
  • Use firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software to protect any device connected to the internet.
  • Use strong passwords that are at least 8 characters long and are easy to remember. Refresh passwords annually and never use the same password twice.

Known Prevalent Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps an updated list of scams here, but here are some that have been reported to the Woodland Park Police Department:
  • Door to Door Contractor Scam - A "contractor" will come to the victim's door and tell them that they need driveway or roof repair. Often, they will mention a covenant or neighborhood reference, and need to be paid in advance. If any work actually does get done, they will use poor-quality materials and do substandard work.
  • Email Scams - The scammer will send an email, connect through social media, or a dating site building a rapport with the victim that will eventually lead to requests for money to be sent. In other versions, the scammer will pose as a soldier in need of money or a foreign official who has a fortune to share if "good faith" money or processing fees are paid to them.
  • Grandparent Scam - This is a phone scam where the caller pretends to be a grandchild who needs money urgently to get out of jail or travel home. The caller often gets the victim to provide a name (something like "Steven, is that you") and the caller responds with "yes, it is me Steven". The caller will instruct the victim to withdraw money from their bank and use it to wire it to them or buy pre-loaded gift cards or iTunes cards and give the caller the code numbers for the cards.
  • IRS Scam - This phone scam has the caller claiming to be from the IRS and states they have found an error in your taxes. The caller will say that if the victim does not pay immediately, they will issue a warrant for arrest. Sometimes, the caller will even say that the police are on the way. The caller will usually try to convince the victim to buy pre-loaded or iTunes cards and provide the code number on the card over the phone. In similar versions, the caller will claim to be the police or court clerk and tell the victim they have outstanding warrants or have missed a court date. They will inform the victim to make a payment immediately or be arrested.
  • Microsoft Impersonator Scam - In this phone scam, the caller claims to be from Microsoft or "Windows" and say that they have "discovered" a virus on the victim's computer that will make the computer become unusable. The ultimate goal of the fraud depends on the scammer, but normally require the victim to purchase fake anti-virus software to get bank or credit card information or allow the scammer to have remote access to the victim's computer.