News Blog: Utahns team up to avoid more fraud


Today, an LDS Church representative will hopefully provide an enlightening message to Utahns about avoiding further fraud or scams.

Since 2010, it is estimated that there is $2 billion worth of fraud or scams under investigation or in the courts. LDS Church members, which make up about 65% of the Utah population, are particularly vulnerable what’s called affinity fraud. Affinity fraud is when a scam artist targets a specific group based on beliefs, associations, etc.

Keith Woodwell, head of Utah’s Division of Secruities, told The Economist, Mormons are both trusting and welcoming of newcomers. Once a scammer gets his foot in the door, he’ll exploit the closeness.

Today’s LDS speaker, Michael Otterson, is the director of public affairs for Fraud College, a website dedicated to educating people about “get rich quick” schemes or other popular scams.

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Even BYU students are exposed to scams. Last fall, there were “internship representatives” on campus trying to recruit eager students looking for work for the summer. Those representatives were not approved to be recruiting on campus at that time.

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The email from BYU University Comms sent February 14, 2012 to BYU students warning about fraudulent emails.

In February, University Communications sent out an email warning students to be leery of fraudulent emails about tax services or from the “IRS”.

Students should take precautions to protect their identity and avoid getting involved with scams.

Here are some tips:

  • Be cautious when giving out your social security number.
  • Store important documents under lock and key. These documents could include your social security card, bank statements, passport, etc.
  • Check your credit report once a year.  Did you know companies like Experian and TransUnion are required to give you a free report once a year? You have to request the report but it won’t cost you a thing.
Here’s what people are saying on Twitter about affinity fraud:

Feb. 12: Fraud in Utah and men’s achievement gap in America: Why is Utah dubbed “the capital of affinity fraud?…

— KSL News (@kslnews) February 12, 2012

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