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DPD: Don't become a victim of fraud

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On your phone ... at your computer ... through the mail ... predators look for every opportunity to trick you into giving up your money or personal information.

Delta Police Officer Nick Buffington recently identified the scams most frequently reported by Delta citizens.

1) The IRS scam. You get a call from someone claiming to be a federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent and he is seeking immediate payment of taxes he claims you owe.

According to Stop Fraud Colorado, the phony agents use intimidation tactics such as threats of arrest, liens on property, deportation, or driver's license revocation to scare consumers into making payments or disclosing personal information. The imposters often have just enough personal information to convince a taxpayer they are legitimate.

A variation on this scam involves scam artists saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number or personal financial information, such as bank numbers or credit cards.

You may see an official looking number on your caller ID, but authorities believe many of these phony calls originate in India and other foreign countries.

According to the IRS, it will never call you to demand immediate payment or require that you pay your taxes a certain way, such as with a wire transfer or prepaid money card.

2) Lottery scam. Great news! You've just won a vehicle or a cash prize. But in order to claim your winnings, you're asked to pay a fee or taxes. Officer Buffington said payment often takes the form of prepaid gift cards. Two of the more popular methods of payment are iTunes and Amazon gift cards.

3) Arrest warrant. Victims are caught off guard with the unexpected threat of arrest and may be quick with personal information or money to defuse the situation. Whether the caller claims you've missed jury duty or failed to appear in court, it's important to remember that officers of the court, police officers and other government representatives will never ask for personal information over the phone.

4) Facebook. Predators create fake accounts using the names of friends, then send a private message requesting financial assistance, often in connection to a grant.

5) Grandparent scam. You receive a call or an email, often in the middle of the night, from someone claiming to be your grandchild or other relative. There will be some story of an emergency -- they've been in an accident, arrested; or trapped in a foreign country without money or a passport. No matter what the alleged emergency, this scam always involves a desperate plea for immediate payment, often via a wire transfer. The caller pretends to be too embarrassed to reach out to mom and dad, but before you do anything, give them a call yourself to verify that your loved one is safe.

Regardless of the scam, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

The Delta Police Department will take a report documenting any financial loss, but beyond that there's really little they can do. The suspects almost always reside elsewhere in the country or overseas.

While there's little chance you'll recover any money, it's important to report fraud. According to the Office of the Colorado Attorney General, reporting fraud is a key component in identifying patterns of concern.

"Fraud reports enable our office to identify and devote our limited resources to the most egregious cases involving widespread harm to Colorado consumers and the associated business environment," attorney general Cynthia Coffman noted on the website www.stopfraudcolorado.gov.

If you believe you have been victimized by a scam or wish to report suspicious activity, contact your local law enforcement agency, file a report at www.stopfraudcolorado.

gov or contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP, 1-877-ID-THEFT, or online at www.ftc.gov.

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