Clinic for ID theft awareness

Monday event will focus on scams, fraud and self-protection

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If you go

What: Identity theft clinic sponsored by Northwest Colorado Legal Services and the Routt County Council on Aging

When: 1 p.m. Monday

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center

Call: 276-2161 or (800) 521-6968 for more information

On the 'Net

Online resources can be found on the Colorado Attorney General's Web site at www.ago.state.co.... and at the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection at www.ftc.gov/bcp.

— With identity theft on the rise in Routt County, Northwest Colorado Legal Services and the Routt County Council on Aging are combining forces to teach people to protect themselves.

A free clinic Monday is designed to teach people how to recognize scams and fraudulent activities and prevent themselves from becoming victims, as well as what to do in cases of suspected identity theft.

Although the clinic is co-sponsored by the Routt County Council on Aging, Leann Martinez of Northwest Colorado Legal Services said the event, which will be led by coordinator Sherri Ferree, is geared for all ages.

"It's great information for anyone, because anyone could be a victim of identity theft," Martinez said.

Identity theft has long been on the rise in Steamboat Springs, with victims being targeted via mail, phone and e-mail. The Steamboat Springs Police Department handled 17 identity theft cases in 2007, along with 42 fraud cases, many of which involved credit card fraud.

Several years ago, the Police Department handled many low-level cases of identity theft committed by individuals connected to the methamphetamine trade, who were applying for credit cards using information acquired by Dumpster diving or stealing mail.

Police have urged residents to safeguard personal information and actively monitor credit reports and bank statements for fraudulent activity, especially because small transactions often go unnoticed.

"It's not quieting down, and it will only continue to increase," Detective Dave Kleiber said. "As long as there are gullible people, there will be people trying to scam them."

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