Scams & How to Protect Yourself?

• Information on Fraud, Scams and Identity Theft

From stolen checks and credit cards, social security scams to advance fee frauds and identity theft, fraud is an unfortunate fact of life. The Rifle Police Department is committed to serving the citizens of Rifle to the best of its ability. The Rifle Police Department can investigate certain types of scams and "cons" however in some cases, the Rifle Police Department may not have the resources or the jurisdiction to investigate the crime. In cases such as these, the Rifle Police Department will assist you in routing your complaint to the proper authorities so that your case may be investigated properly.

In many cases victims are unaware that they have been victimized by these types of scams and cons. Below is a list of several current scams that are being used both in our area and throughout the United States.

The Rifle Police Department would like to alert citizens to some of the more common methods of fraud, signs you might be looking at fraudulent material, and additional resources regarding frauds.

Here are some Sample Scam Letters.

Note some "clues" in the above including:
  • Incorrect syntax.
  • Poor grammar.
  • Confusing capitalization's

Such indicators often indicate the writer is not fluent in English, these are indicators which should lead you to analyze the “offer” being presented very thoroughly.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a form of fraud in which someone pretends to be someone else in order to steal money or obtain other benefits. A more correct term is identity fraud or impersonation. The person whose identity is used can suffer various consequences when he or she is held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Most of the following will be some version of identity theft.

If you believe you have been the victim of Identity Theft, the Rifle Police Department provides the following documents:

The First Steps for Victims of Identity Theft is a packet designed to help you, the victim work through the difficult situation you mat have just found yourself in. This packet is for you, and contains a relatively comprehensive list of actions to take, and contact information for the myriad of agencies and companies you may need to contact.

Secondly, we offer an Identity Theft Victim's Complaint and Affidavit. In order to save yourself time, we encourage victims to complete this Complaint and Affidavit before coming to the Rifle Police Department. This Complaint and Affidavit may also be picked up and completed at the Rifle Police Department.

Once you have completed the Identity Theft Victim's Complaint and Affidavit, you should have the opportunity to speak with an Officer at the Rifle Police Department. If you need to speak with an Officer, please contact us via the Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority (Dispatch) at 970-628-8095.


In the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. You may receive an email from someone purporting to be your banks security department or the social security office. They will request that you call a number or respond to an email and verify some personal information.


Vishing is a combination of "voice" and "phishing". These cases are very similar to "phishing" crimes with a person calling or some type of automated call requesting you to call back with personal information instead of an electronic communication such as email.

Contractor Scam

The most recent version of this old scam, is a subject contacts a "victim" at their residence. The subject offers some type of service such as re-paving their driveway for a small fee. The subject claims that they are doing a paving project nearby and will have an extra amount of concrete. Thus, selling it to the victim for a “deal.”

Wire Transfer Scam

In the history of frauds and scams, most people are familiar with the “Nigerian” email scams where people are asked to wire transfer money to help someone get their inheritance, for example. The newest wire transfer scam that has attracted the attention of the Police uses rental property as the lure. The ploy is that a rental property is available for rent and after the paperwork is completed the renter/victim is told the owner will be out of town on travel and should wire their deposit and first month’s rent to an overseas location.

Overpayment Scam

An overpayment scam can be conducted in many different ways, but most recently it looks like this. Someone legitimately places a personal ad in a local newspaper and gets a call from a prospective buyer. The buyer makes plans to send a friend or agent to pick up the item that is listed for sale, but prior to the pick-up a money order is shipped for payment. The money order will be made out for a few thousand dollars more than the item to "cover" shipping, agent fees, wire transfer fees, etc. When the payment is received by the seller, the seller is instructed to deposit the check into their personal account and than wire back the difference to an overseas account. The money will be transferred before the bank notifies the seller the money order is fraudulent.

Foreign Lottery

The lottery scam has been around for years and shows no signs of wavering. It is a crime to send fraudulent checks to the unsuspecting public.

These checks come from familiar and unfamiliar companies across the globe. A seemingly authentic check and congratulatory letter is sent in your name with explicit instructions to deposit the check and mail a nominal tax or clearance fee to the company in the amount of the check sent to you in order to claim your grand prize. It can take several days for the deposited check to come back fraudulent and within that time, you have lost the money you have mailed to claim your winnings.

This is a scam and can only be stopped by you. If you receive a check in the mail from an unknown entity that you are not expecting, you have several options to safeguard yourself from financial loss.

Contact your bank or financial institute to confirm the authenticity of the check. If the check is fraudulent, the bank will notify you.

Advance Fee Fraud or 419 Fraud

In an Advance Fee Fraud, the following tactics are typically used: You receive an email, letter or fax from an alleged "official" representing a foreign government or agency and an offer is made to transfer funds into your personal bank account. These offers include: Foreign lotto winnings, C.O.D. of goods or services, Real estate ventures, and Beneficiary of a will. You are encouraged to travel overseas to complete the transaction. You are requested to provide blank company letterhead forms, banking account information, telephone and fax numbers. You receive numerous documents with official looking stamps, seals and logos testifying to the authenticity of the proposal.

Do not respond to these correspondences. If you have already lost funds in pursuit of these schemes, you will need to contact your local United States Secret Services Office at 303-866-1010.

If you feel that you have been a victim of one of these crimes or are suspicious about an email phone call or letter, please call the Rifle Police Department to discuss the incident.
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• How Can I Protect Myself?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. The commission assists victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help resolve the financial and other problems that can result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies for further actions. If you are a victim of ID theft, you can file a complaint with the Rifle Police Department as well as the FTC. You can reach the FTC by calling 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338) or by visiting the FTC ID Theft Site or Consumer Information Page.

Here are some steps you can take to help safeguard you and your accounts from being compromised.

1. Protect your account information and numbers. Never give out financial information, including your social security number, to anyone unless you initiate the contact and know the person or organization you are dealing with.

2. Report lost or stolen checks immediately to your bank and your local law enforcement agency. Your bank will be able to safeguard your accounts and return any fraudulent checks to the merchants who accepted them.

3. Store all cancelled and new checks securely. Always try to keep new books of checks and all cancelled checks in a safe place, away from common areas of your residence, but not in your garage or a storage shed.

4. Be aware of suspicious phone inquiries. Notify your bank immediately if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a financial institution who asks for you account information. Your financial institution will never ask you to verify your account numbers with them.

5. Guard your ATM PIN number. Try not to use obvious or easily attainable information as your PIN number and destroy old ATM receipts as they may contain valuable account information on them.

6. Destroy financial solicitations you receive in the mail. If you decide you are not interested in a financial solicitation that you received in the mail, tear it up or shred it. This prevents someone from taking it from your garbage, filling it out, and having an account opened with your information.

7. Do not put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Always try to deposit your mail in a secure, official Postal Service collection box. If you decide to put your mail in your mailbox, do not place the red flag up and do not place your mail in the box the night before a pick up. This is a signal to thieves that there is mail in your box for them to steal. The post office will know that all the mail in your box is to be taken by them.

8. Keep track of incoming bills. If your regular bills fail to reach you, contact the company and find out why. Someone might have filled out a false change-of-address notice to divert your mail to another address.

9. Review all your statements carefully. Too often people do not carefully review the charges placed on their statements. Thieves who have compromised your account(s) may only charge small amounts to start. Always confirm that all the charges are ones that you have authorized. Credit card statements should be reconciled just like checking and saving account statements.

10. Check your credit report periodically. It is always important to check your credit report to ensure that no accounts have been opened using your information without your knowledge. It will also enable you to see who is running credit checks on you. The 3 major credit bureaus are:
  • Equifax -- 800-685-1111
  • Experian -- 888-682-3742
  • TransUnion -- 800-916-8800

11. Keep personal numbers off your checks. It is recommended that you do not have your driver's license or social security number printed on the face of your checks. This would hopefully encourage the clerk who accepts your check to ask for and look at identification before accepting the check. This step helps keep your account safer and will save you many headaches down the road.