March 5, 2013
A brazen thief Monday walked into the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado during business hours, entered a cubicle and stole a smartphone and wallet from a purse.
The victim was Katie Carrol, director of public relations and broadcast for the BBB and a member of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s board on identity theft and financial fraud. She was in a meeting at the time.
“We all think it’s not going to happen to us,” Carrol said Tuesday.
The thief “within an hour had starting spending all kinds of money,” she said.
On Tuesday she fired out a fraud alert to credit agencies and closed all of her credit card accounts. “And I have a lot more to do,” she said.
Ironically, the crime she suffered, identity theft, is among the BBB’s Top 10 Scams of 2012. In the BBB ranking, the identity theft is accomplished via fake tweets warning of an embarrassing video on Facebook; it’s right up there with the mystery shopper scam, fake emergency scam, prepayment scam and Jamaican phone lottery scam.
“You want a comment? How’s that for a comment?” Carrol said. “It’s personal.”
This week is National Consumer Protection Week. According to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, fraudulent or unwanted telephone calls topped the list of Colorado consumer complaints in 2012. There were 440 of them that year, 114 more than the second highest complaint-getter, the office said.
Consumer complaints are on the rise in the state. Coloradans filed 7,911 complaints with the office last year, an increase of nearly 10 percent from 2011’s 7,297 complaints.
Rounding out the top three were utility complaints about cable, satellite and telephony, with 326 complaints, and financial planning/management consultants, at 213.
Colorado’s numbers fit the nationwide trend, said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection with the Consumer Federation of America.
“We know that state and local consumer agencies have been getting lots of complaints from consumers about telemarketing fraud and abuse,” she said.
The CFA’s top three scams for 2012 included auto scams, credit and debt scams and home improvement scams.
The organization Wednesday was set to hold a press conference addressing the growth of telemarketing scams, Grant said.