Police say report scams, even if you don't fall prey - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Police say report scams, even if you don't fall prey

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- A mystery-shopper scam robbed one woman of thousands of dollars.

She came to KWWL to share her story, so that others might not fall into the same trap.

"I work, you know, part time. I'm a single parent...This is a something horrible to happen to a single mother who was already struggling," the victim said. She asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

"I'm really, really sick over it, and I just don't want this to happen to anybody else," she said.

The victim received a letter and check in the mail she said she thought looked legitimate.

"I took this to the bank. I put this in my account...Unfortunately, the check came back fraudulent, and I'm out this money," she said.

The total amounted to more than $3,900.

The victim took her case to the Dubuque Police Department.

"If you have some type of suspicious transaction or some form of fraud, make sure you report that to the police department right away," Lieutenant Scott Baxter said. "Obviously, contact your bank and credit card company."

Lt. Baxter said the department wants to hear about scams even if people recognize them as such from the get-go.

"We try to stay up on it, and that's why we always encourage the public to notify us when they learn of something new or if they've become a victim," Lt. Baxter said.

Dubuque Bank and Trust vice president of operations and finance Bret Tuley said it's much easier to prevent fraud through educating people about what's out there, than it is to clean up the financial tangle after somebody becomes a victim.

"Should something slip through, ultimately the customer is responsible for when that check gets returned," Tuley said.

When it comes to sniffing out a scam, Tuley, Lt. Baxter and the victim all said the same thing: if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Tuley said there's a big difference between a scam such as the one this woman encountered and something such as credit card fraud or identity theft, which he said tends to run deeper than simply depositing one fraudulent check.

Still, no matter the fraud, theft or scam, Lt. Baxter said police officers want to hear about it in order to keep informed of what's going around.

Here are some quick tips from the Dubuque Police Department and the Dubuque Bank and Trust:

- Shred mail with sensitive personal information in it.

- Review your credit score at least once a year.

- During transactions, keep your credit card where you can see it.

- Choose to swipe credit instead of debit in a public place, so that nobody can see you enter your pin.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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