General Safety Tips
Download this guide with information about contacting FCPS, top safety tips, and a message from the Chief of Police.
Scams & Frauds
Protect your family and finances from scams and frauds! People of all ages, especially elderly individuals, are regularly victimized by scammers. Download this list of scam awareness tips and share with loved ones.
Spot Common Scams#
Click on the list below to learn about the different types of scams we encounter regularly.
Unemployment scams have been extremely common. How can you spot a scam? Monitor your mail closely - if you get correspondence about unemployment benefits that you *haven't* requested, there's a chance someone may have filed using your information. If you think this may have occurred, we recommend taking these steps:
- Notify your employer's Human Resources team Report the fraud to the Colorado. Department of Labor at https://cdle.colorado.gov/fraud-prevention
- Report the identity theft online at www.identitytheft.gov
- Monitor credit reports, bank accounts, and other financial accounts for unusual activity.
- File a police report *IF* you've had any actual financial losses related to a scam or fraud situation.
- Protect your personal and financial information by always using strong passwords and secure transaction platforms.
You begin an online relationship, and then your online suitor asks for money to pay for a financial hardship, business investment, or even transportation to visit you. These people are devious and will carry on the relationship for weeks or months at a time. They look for vulnerable victims, such as those who have recently lost a spouse. Those who truly care about you won’t coerce you to part with your hard-earned money. Speak with a trusted friend or family member, or the police, to help you determine if the relationship is legitimate.
FCPS has investigated many reports of people being scammed of rental properties through online services.
The Coronavirus pandemic has created unique challenges and difficulties in the housing industry. Governor Jared Polis and some federal guidelines have mandated to the end of the year 2020 that no eviction action may be processed due to non-payment. Many will find themselves scrambling in fear of what their future holds when funding assistance is no longer available.
Fear of being kicked out for non-payment, coupled with the limitations of earned income and budget restraints, moves most to solely search through online services. Their endeavors come with a blind expectation that they will be treated with honesty, integrity, and fairness. Taking advantage of renters is perpetuated more often when the consumer is less informed about deceptive practices.
The following considerations may prove useful in the search to avoid being a victim of a housing-scam:
- Affordability – living within means
- Safe neighborhood and friendly neighbors
- Schools for children – possibly within walking distance from home
- College students – close to campus
- Seniors - close to grocery stores, medical needs, public transportation
BE AWARE OF THIS SCAM BEHAVIOR
- Postings for affordability (be wary of an advertised amount anywhere under or close to one thousand dollars)
- Know that housing averages in Fort Collins is slightly higher than $1,000 for a studio, $1,133 for a one bedroom, $1,222 for a two bedroom, and $1,500 to much higher ($2,250) for larger accommodations
- Keys offered to be released by appointment at the house - generally a “no show” situation'
- The security deposit and/or first month’s rent payment by Zelle (instant money transfer), Venmo (money transfer app), and PayPal (a familiar and established account).
- Owner claims to be out-of-state on business; cannot meet immediately
- Check property ownership for a name match (website for Larimer County)
- Generic contract (read the fine print)
- Ask to view the property for walk-in inspection; huge red flag is a “no can do” attitude for any reason
- No matter how many pages of lease agreements, signature requests, photos of a beautiful and inviting house, always recognize those may be stolen or edited from legitimate real estate listings
- Don’t feel pressured by the statement that someone else is looking and just as interested, which creates a rushed deadline for an answer
- Use caution with any request for e-mailed photos of driver license, adult identification, Social Security Number, W-2 for confirmation of income, and other forms of ID that may lead to future identity theft
- Property Management venues – try to deal with one person consistently
Property ownership – www.larimer.org/property-taxes
Complaints about property management companies – firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet Crime Complaint Center – www.IC3.gov
Network Intrusion Scams#
You receive a pop-up notification on your computer, or an email or phone call telling you that your account has been hacked. The sender claims to offer technical assistance and asks for login information for your computer or your financial accounts. This is a scam! The sender will use the information to lock down your computer and accounts in exchange for a ransom payment, or to conduct fraudulent transactions on your account.
Requests for technical assistance should only be initiated by you, and an official technical support person will never request your login information or financial credentials. Speak with a tech-savvy friend or family member and contact the police if you have responded to one of these notifications.
Money-Mule and Overpayment Scams#
Thieves will ask to send you a large sum of money. All you have to do is send the money along to someone else, and they will let you keep a small amount for your trouble. This may even be in relation to an item you posted for sale. Scam Alert! The fraudulent payment will eventually bounce, leaving your account overdrawn.
Never accept money in an amount greater than the agreed upon price, and never agree to send money along in exchange for a small payment to yourself.
Online Employment Scams#
You respond to an online advertisement for an amazing employment opportunity, but it is too good to be true. Scammers will ask for your personal and financial information, and may even ask you to send them payment for employment costs. These thieves target those who are desperate for jobs. Online resources such as the Colorado Secretary of State website can help verify employers.
Remember that if someone wants you to work for them, they will pay you, not the other way around! Never send a down payment or deposit without receiving a tour of the inside of the home first. If something seems off about the job or house, it probably isn’t legitimate.
Family Emergency Scams#
A caller impersonates a distant family member or friend who had an emergency and needs money for bail, to pay for damages after an accident, or to get transportation home. The caller may ask you not to tell anyone so they don’t get in any trouble. Don’t fall for it! Hang up and contact family or friends to determine if you know someone who actually needs help. This is likely just a scam from someone trying to take advantage of you!
Protecting Yourself from Crime#
Most crimes are "crimes of opportunity." A criminal often targets the easiest home to enter, the easiest car to break into, or the easiest purse to snatch. Most criminals want easy targets, so making it tough for them will reduce your risk. While the fault always lies with the perpetrator, taking crime prevention steps can help reduce your risk of becoming a crime victim by reducing the opportunity.
Basic Street Sense
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Send the message that you're calm, confident, and know where you're going.
- Trust your instincts.
- Know the neighborhoods where you live and work
On Foot - Day and Night
- Stick to well-lighted, well-traveled streets.
- Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
- Don't flash large amounts of cash.
- Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps.
- Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket, not in a back pocket.
- Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
- If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. Walk towards an open store, restaurant, or lighted house. If you're scared, yell for help.
- Keep your car in good running condition.
- Always roll up the windows, lock car doors, and never leave valuables in plain view.
- Avoid parking in isolated areas. Be especially alert in lots and parking garages.
- If you think someone is following you, don't head home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station, gas station, or other open business to get help.
- Don't pick up hitchhikers.
- Never leave your car running while unattended.
If Someone Tries to Rob You:
- Don't resist. Give up your property; don't give up your life.
- Report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent others from being victims.
Check the Locks
Did you know that in many residential break-ins, burglars simply entered through unlocked doors or crawled through unlocked windows?
- Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed, one inch throw, dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or placing a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door.
- Give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
- Keep the garage door closed and locked and always lock the connecting door to your home.
- Don't leave an extra key under a doormat, potted plant, or other hiding spot a burglar could easily find.
Check the Doors
A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down.
- All outside doors should be metal, metal clad or solid wood.
- If your doors don't fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
- Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains are easily broken and offer a false sense of security.
Check the Outside
Look at your house from the outside; make sure you know the following tips:
- Install outside lights and keep them on at night.
- Keep your yard clean - prune back shrubbery so it doesn't hide doors or windows.
- Clearly display your house number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your home quickly.
- Create the illusion that you're home by setting some timers that will turn your lights on and off in different areas of your house throughout the evening.
- Don't leave ladders or tools outside that a burglar could use to gain entry.
There's More You Can Do
- Join a Neighborhood Watch group. If one doesn't exist, you can start one with help from local law enforcement.
- Avoid advertising when you're going to be away from home for a vacation, work travel, or other reason. This includes sharing details on social media, your home answering machine, or other publicly accessible places.
- Be suspicious of strangers who appear out of place or who ask about your schedule or plans.