A reminder from Larimer County to be wary of scammers

With the recent attacks on the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office website, coupled with telephone scams threatening some residents with jail time if they refused to pay outstanding warrants, the Larimer County Commissioners’ citizen meeting on March 5 in Wellington focused on arming area residents with information to curb future victimization.

Would-be scammers have plenty of resources and public information at their disposal that allow them to sound credible over the phone, said David Moore, press information officer for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. Tools, such as Voice over Internet Protocol, allow scammers to manipulate phone numbers to make them appear legitimate when calling, he said.

But resident beware.

“Please, please, please don’t give them information,” Moore said.

As a general rule, the government will notify a citizen of a debt via letter. And LCSO is more apt to visit a resident rather than calling. Those receiving suspicious phone calls are encouraged to report the incident to the LCSO non-emergency number, 970-416-1985.

Gail Meisner knows all too well what it is like to have a system hacked. Earlier this month, Meisner received a message alerting her to a threat from a program that appeared to be from McAfee security. Since she doesn’t use the software on her computer, she tried to ignore the warning. But it was too late. Whatever was trying to get her to click on the advertisement disabled her system.

“It scares me to death — your bank accounts — you just don’t feel safe anymore in this country,” she said.

Drawing on his computer systems background, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III told the group that cyber security is a worldwide issue affecting people, company and governments alike. Though concerning, Gaiter reminded the group that Larimer County does not store private information such as social security numbers and credit card information on their website.

“If it can happen to Target it certainly is no surprise that they can hack the Larimer county website,” he said.

So if not to steal personal information, why would a group want to hack the county website, resident Lou Kinzli asked Gaiter.

“We don’t know, we may never know. They do it ‘cuz they can and it’s a nuisance,” he said. “In one day this group hacked over 400 websites just to be a pain in the butt.”

And because technology allows people to cross boarders and hack databases across the world, it makes it difficult to capture and prosecute the offenders, Gaiter said.

Equipping citizens with information to protect themselves prompted Terry Gilbert, Community Development Director, to review information regarding possible changes to Larimer County Code 4.2.2, which currently prohibits a resident from rebuilding a property that incurred damage greater than or equal to 50 percent of its value.

Though most people affected by the code appear to be closer to LaPorte and mountain areas, Gilbert reminded residents that studies conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency could make changes to the flood map and may incorporate areas that were previously not considered to be in a flood zone.
Code revisions will be discussed in a meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11 at the Larimer County Courthouse, and include allowing construction for homes that incurred damage as a result of a non-flood related events or reclassifying homes based on depth and velocity standards, he said.

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