Scammers heat up identity theft efforts as summer approaches

DENVER -- Crooks are throwing some heat into their game as the summer season approaches.

Investigators tell the FOX31 Problem Solvers consumers lost $6.4 million to electronic scams last year.

Rev. Tommy Richardson says he answered a threatening call from a person named “Donald” who said he was from the Social Security Administration.

“They stated that a car had been rented in my name and was busted for drugs. There was a warrant out for my arrest for drug trafficking and money laundering," Richardson said.

None of that was true. Richardson knew the caller was an impostor and to never provide personal or financial information to anyone without verifying the source first,  so he challenged the caller.

"I said, 'If you’re the social security office, what’s my social security number?'" Richardson said.

He says the scammer got bold.

"He kept going, 'You want my badge number?' I said, 'No, I need you to give me my social security number since you’re the social security officer,'" Richardson said.

Denver Better Business Bureau investigator Ezra Coopersmith tells the FOX31 Problem Solvers Richardson was correct in withholding his information.

Coopersmith says consumers can protect their identity by hanging up and calling the real agency or business to verify the information.

"The scammer is trying to scare you. If you’re freaked out, you’re not really going to make a sound, thoughtful decision," Coopersmith said.

Consumers should also be aware of calls from crooks saying they represent Apple computers. Most businesses will never randomly contact customers asking for account information.

"Your Apple ID could unlock a lot of information because it’s linked your computers," Coopersmith said.

Experts say when in doubt, let those calls go to voicemail, check them out there and make sure to report them to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation or the State Attorney General.

Richardson tells FOX1 he hopes these scam artists will repent and use their work ethic for something more constructive.

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