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March Comes In Like a Lion – – For Denver Scams

Forget Stealing a Car –It’s Easier to Steal a License Plate! 

30 seconds and a screwdriver is all it takes to steal a license plate.

If you don’t want to steal a car, the next best thing is to steal a car’s license plates. Turns out your license plates are a hot commodity. A new trend shows thieves have been ripping off license plates, screwing them onto their own car, and then committing crimes. It’s an easy way for thieves to hide their identity. While no one is looking and in quick fashion, a thief can quickly unbolt your front and rear plates. Investigators with our office say hundreds of plates and stickers have been reported stolen. Thieves are also putting stolen tags on stolen cars making crimes difficult to trace back to them.

Sometimes these thieves steal just the stickers off the plates. That’s a more difficult thing to notice and unfortunately some residents don’t notice the stickers gone until they are pulled over for expired plates.

Stealing a license plate often just takes one tool – a screwdriver. And it can be done in seconds. Removing a registration sticker also takes one tool – a razor blade. But it’s possible a thief may only need his or her fingernails.

You might consider purchasing one way screws, also called plate keepers, to attach your plates. These can make plate removal more difficult.

If your tags or stickers are stolen, the Department of Motor Vehicles says you should file a police report immediately to avoid paying for replacements and to avoid fines.


Are You Walking Around With Your Social Security Number? 

If you are carrying your Medicare card, you are walking around with your Social Security number. Your Medicare account number is also your Social Security Number. Losing your Medicare card exposes you to ID theft to scammers who know. To limit ID theft exposure, Medicare will begin to issue new Medicare cards to all beneficiaries beginning April 2018. To help protect your identity, these new cards will no longer contain your Social Security number with a new account number.

It will take at least a year for Medicare to get all the new cards out to beneficiaries. Before you receive your new card, scammers might try to take advantage of the transition. Here’s the scam: Scammers will call and try to convince you they are representatives for Medicare providing an “update for card replacements.” Don’t fall for it. Do not provide any personal information to any caller. If you are wondering when your card will arrive contact Social Security directly. Keep the following in mind while you wait for your new card:

  • Your new card will be sent directly to your mailing address. If you need to update your address, call Social Security at 800-722-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
  • If you receive a phone call, email or text offering to help with this transition. Ignore the call. Don’t provide or even verify any personal information to an unsolicited caller or written request.
  • New cards will be mailed in waves. Cards for Colorado residents are not scheduled to be mailed until after June 2018. It is likely that Colorado beneficiaries will not receive their new cards until late 2018 or early 2019.
  • Once you receive your new card, shred and/or thoroughly destroy your old card.
  • Only provide your new number to doctors, your insurers, pharmacists, health care providers or others who you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.

Here’s how to protect your Medicare/Social Security number from being compromised until you receive your new card:

  • Do not carry your Medicare card around with you unless you are going to the doctor or pharmacy that day.
  • Make a photo copy of your Medicare card. On the copy, Sharpie through the first five numbers, leaving only the last 4 visible-That information is usually sufficient for most needs.
  • Don’t give your number to anyone who calls you. (It may be different if you are initiating a call.)
  • Many scammers will pose as workers from the IRS, Social Security office or financial institutions to try and get your personal information. Remember, no legitimate company will ever call asking for your personal information. None. Zero. Zip. If that happens hang up.

Additionally, know who really needs your SSN and who doesn’t. There are organizations that require your SSN, including your employer, the IRS and financial institutions. But there are many other organizations that, while they ask for your SSN, they don’t really need it. Don’t be afraid to ask if the company really needs the number.


It’s Almost Tax Time! 

The IRS is encouraging all of us to file early and electronically. It’s a safest way to circumvent scammers.

Check out the IRS Tip Website for tips.


SPEAK UP AGAINST ELDER ABUSE 

 Elder Abuse is not ok, yet each year approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. Know the signs of Elder Abuse.  If anything sounds familiar, call the Police or Adult Protective Services right away.


THINK YOU’VE BEEN SCAMMED?

If you suspect you’ve been scammed or exploited, call our Fraud Hot Line to report it. 720-913-9179


SCHEDULE A SPEAKER

Interested in learning more about scams happening in Denver? Do you want to know how to protect yourself from identity theft? Maro Casparian is available for speaking engagements to any group or organization. Presentations are free!  Contact her by email: amc@denverda.org or via phone: 720.913.9036.