Colorado State Publications Blog

Business Identity Theft

Identity theft doesn’t just target individuals — businesses are also vulnerable to these types of crimes. Hijackers can steal financial information from businesses in order to pose as that business to establish lines of credit or make fraudulent purchases. How can your business protect itself from identity theft and cyber crimes? Three Colorado state agencies – the Secretary of State’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – have teamed up to bring you several helpful resources that can increase awareness and protect your business.

The Business Identity Theft Resource Guide was developed by the three partner agencies to aid businesses in protecting themselves from identity theft as well as to offer guidance to victims. Use the resource guide to learn how to monitor financial activity, safeguard your records and financial information, and protect your customers’ personal information. You can also find more at their Protect Your Business website, and in this brochure.

The Attorney General’s Office, along with the Federal Trade Commission, has also published a separate guide, Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business, which provides numerous helpful tips and resources for planning and protecting businesses from identity theft and fraud. Additionally, the CBI has a helpful website about identity theft and cyber crimes, and the Attorney General’s website also offers information on how to protect your customers, along with other identity theft resources.

For more resources on identity theft, including information on what to do if your individual identity is stolen, visit our library’s online catalog.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Tips for Avoiding Cyber Scams

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. What can you do to avoid being a victim of cyber crime? Criminals are increasingly using the internet to target victims, either to steal their identities or scam them out of a lot of money – or both. Below are some common types of cyber fraud, and tips to avoid them. You can read more about these scams on the Colorado Attorney General’s Digital Fraud website.

  • Click bait scams. These are scams where criminals will create an intriguing post on social media with the purpose of tricking the victim into sharing personal information or even installing malware. Tip: when clicking on social media posts, if you receive a suspicious-looking popup asking you to update your video player or scan your computer for viruses, this may be a scam to install malware on your computer or device. But before you even click on the post, hover your cursor over the link to make sure it’s taking you to a safe and familiar website. Even if the post appears to be from someone you know, cyber criminals will often hack into users’ accounts – so if a link looks suspicious or unfamiliar, verify it is legitimate before clicking.
  • Internet auction and classified ad sites. These kinds of scams use legitimate websites to lure customers into false purchases or which cheat sellers out of goods without paying for them. If you’re selling items on an internet auction site, a fake “buyer” might pay for the item with phony checks or money orders. Other types of scams include fake advertisements for property rentals, where an interested renter clicks on a phony ad and is made to fill out a long “application” divulging all kinds of personal information. Also common are fake ticket scams. You send in money to buy tickets for an event, but the tickets never arrive. Tip: For sellers, don’t ship items until you make sure the payment is legitimate. For buyers, do your research on a company by checking sites such as the Better Business Bureau. Don’t give personal information such as social security numbers. And remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • “Money Flipping” Scams. These are essentially “get rich quick” schemes that advertise over the internet, promising that if you invest a small amount of money you can “flip” it into a larger amount. Tip: Always do your research on a company before sharing any personal or financial information. Your research might reveal complaints. Also, as with click bait scams, sometimes it might look like one of these money flipping deals is coming from someone you know – but it’s possible their account may have been hacked, so always verify first. And again, trust your instincts. If it’s too good to be true…
  • Negative Option Scams. These are scams that send you products you didn’t order and then bill you for them. Or, they trick you into thinking you are ordering something once, only to be added to an “automatic delivery” over and over – again, sending you the bill. “Free trials” that collect money up front can fall into this category. Tip: Once again, do your research to make sure you are doing business with a legitimate company. Also, read the fine print. If you give your credit card number to get a free trial, be certain that the company won’t automatically start billing you after the trial period is over, and be aware of their cancellation policies.
  • Tech Support Scams. These are common scams where you either get a phone call, an email, or a popup pretending to be from your company’s IT department, or from your device’s manufacturer or carrier (e.g., someone claiming to be from Microsoft calls and tells you your computer has a virus). They either trick you into revealing personal/financial information, or gain access to your computer and install their own viruses, spyware, and malware. Tip: Never give a stranger access to your computer or device. Keep your computer or device updated with the latest security software. Don’t click on any suspicious email attachments, and do not respond to suspicious emails – just delete them. And if you’re not sure, contact the company directly and ask them if a call or email you received is legitimate.

These are just a few of the many types of cyber scams. The Colorado Attorney General’s Digital Fraud webpage includes more details on these and other scams, as well as tips on internet browsing safety, online shopping, smart phone security, and how to reduce spam. You can also use this website to report fraud. If you’re a victim of identity theft, be sure to check out the AG’s Identity Theft Repair Kit and other resources on their website.

Colorado State Publications Blog

New Email Scam Affecting Home Buyers and Sellers

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies warns of a new scam affecting home buyers and sellers:

Consumer Alert: Division of Real Estate urges Colorado home buyers and sellers to be on alert for email scams with fraudulent wire transfer instructions
Cybercriminals targeting home buyers and sellers nationwide.
Tips on how to protect yourself.
DENVER – The Colorado Division of Real Estate at the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) warns Colorado consumers to beware of a national cyber-scam currently taking place that steals money directly from home buyers and sellers.

The Division continues to receive information about this cyber scam in which cybercriminals hack the email accounts of real estate brokers, title companies, and consumers who are in the process of buying or selling a home. In other instances, they create alternative email accounts with just minor changes to the name of the email account, which typically goes unnoticed by the recipient of the email… 

Buyers and sellers can take just five minutes by reading the below tips to protect themselves from becoming a victim of wire fraud:

·         Verbally contact your broker:  Prior to wiring any money, you should always verbally contact your real estate broker to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. Do not rely on telephone numbers or website addresses provided within an unverified email.

·         Do not email financial information:  Emails and texts are not secure methods to transmit financial information.
·         Keep a record of websites that hold your financial information:  And before providing that information, confirm that the  websites in which you input financial information are secure. Look for the URL to start HTTPS, the “S” stands for secure.
·         Don’t click on links:  Don’t use links in emails to get to websites. Instead, search and find the company and directly link to their website from your search.
·         Update your computer:  Keep your operating system, browser and security software up-to-date.

Click here to see the full press release.  You can find information on this and other scams by visiting the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies; the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, or by searching our library’s online catalog.  If you are a victim, be sure and consult the Attorney General’s Identity Theft Repair Kit.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Internet Safety

Earlier this week Colorado Attorney General John Suthers unveiled Wired with Wisdom, an Internet safety program designed to educate Colorado parents on how to keep their kids safe online. According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office:

The program, Wired With Wisdom, is designed to provide parents and caregivers with useful information and solutions related to the problems their children might encounter in today’s digital age. The program addresses the dangers associated with social networking, e-mail, cell phones, chat rooms, instant messaging and other technology widely used by youth today so that adults are equipped to educate young people about safe and responsible online practices.

More information on the program and how to connect is available in the press release.

You may also want to visit the “Safe Surfing Initiative Website” which contains Internet safety resources for kids and parents.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Cyber Security

The State of Colorado has an Office of Cyber Security, aimed at helping citizens and consumers achieve the highest level of protection for their online activities. The Office of Cyber Security’s webpage offers such tips as dealing with cyberbullies, how to choose a firewall, protecting your identity, and how to protect portable computer devices. The page also offers updates on current viruses or other threats.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Information Technology and Cyber Security

Recently the newspapers have carried stories of the State’s proposals to consolidate all of their information technology divisions into a single agency. There are many documents online regarding the state’s information technology infrastructure. See the Office of Information Technology’s website for information, including a Strategic Plan, guidelines, and more.

The State has also set up a cyber security website. This website was designed so consumers could learn more about safety on the internet. Topics covered include fraud, spyware, and keeping your kids safe online.