Routt County residents urged to be aware of scams

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— This is one holiday gift you do not want to receive.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department is warning residents to be extra cautious this holiday season when it comes to scams and identity theft. The department has seen a recent uptick in scam reports and has investigated 17 incidents, Detective Josh Carrell said. He thinks scams and fraud attempts are more frequent during the holiday season because people are more prone to make purchases online.

Police are recommending that residents closely monitor their bank accounts and credit card accounts, either by reviewing statements online or by checking paper statements.

Several types of scams and frauds are occurring, but police especially are seeing a lot of credit card fraud. In some cases, criminals have obtained credit card information and use it to make purchases online.

Phishing scams continue to be present. They occur in a variety of ways, and it is the goal of criminals to obtain personal information such as bank account numbers, birthdays or Social Security numbers. Criminals often just call a person claiming to be someone else and ask for the personal information. Sometimes the phishing attempts come in the form of a text message. Criminals sometimes will build Web pages that mimic those you typically would use for online banking.

“People should always obtain verbal acknowledgement from their banking institution prior to providing any information online,” Carrell said.

Another popular scam this holiday season appears to be the work-from-home scam that offers the promise of money for letter stuffing, secret shopping or repackaging of items.

Carrell said these scams inform a person that they will receive a check in the mail in excess of their agreed-upon payment. They then are to cash the check and transfer the remaining money to another person or entity.

“Most of these checks are fake or written on closed accounts and cause the victim to overdraw their own account, therefore incurring the bad check penalty,” Carrell said.

People who think they have fallen victim to a scam should contact local police.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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