BOISE, Idaho — Boise Police just released its 2019 citizens report, which takes a look at statistics and crime rates across the city. The report shows that the number of service calls for welfare checks were more common then calls related to crime.
The report also highlights that crime rates for the city were at a 25-year low. Back in 1994, the crime rate was about 58 crimes per 1,000 people. In 2019, that number was down to 19.5 per thousand.
The report also shows a 6.8% decrease in reportable crime, along with a 38% drop in vehicle burglaries. However, the city saw a 30% increase in fraud reports, mainly scams and identity theft.
“Because scammers can target us from across the world, it’s not a surprise that these cases are on the rise because these scammers go to school for this, they’re trained for this, they’re making a lot of money doing this,” said Communications Director of the Better Business Bureau Rebecca Barr.
The BBB continually sees an increase in scams too, particularly online.
“In Idaho, online scams were the number one scam we saw reported to our BBB scam tracker,” she said.
Barr said their tracker includes texting scams too. One recent scam involves people receiving a false text message from FedEx claiming there is a problem with that person's shipment and wants you to put in personal information. Another recent scam being seen more and more masquerades as an email from Amazon, which claims problems with your Amazon account or Prime membership.
“I know I’ve gotten them, I know other people have gotten them, where you get an email from Amazon asking you to update your billing information or there’s suspicious activity on your account," Barr explained. "It’s all in hopes of you logging in or downloading an attachment to update your payment information.”
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The reason those types of phishing scams are often successful is that they're so convincing.
“Phishing scams are huge because they throw out the bait, a lot of us take it, it does look like a legitimate email, phone call or text message," Barr said. "They use real logos from real organizations and they put just enough information for us to connect the dots where we might fall for the scam.”
In Idaho particularly, one scam is the most damaging.
“The puppy scam is one of the highest dollars lost when it comes scams,” Barr said. “It really is where you’re purchasing a puppy that might be out of state and you put a deposit down, sometimes hundreds of dollars – the puppy actually does not exist. And the scam keeps going and going because now there’s transportation fees, cargo fees, crate fees. And people lose $2,000 [or more] to these types of scams.”
Barr gave some red flags to look for to avoid getting caught in a scam.
"If it’s on email, look for grammar. Look for if they’re asking you for information," she said. "Is the email, text or phone call very vague where it could be applied to anyone? Are they asking for your information or your payment information?”
If so, it's likely a scam. Barr said the best thing to do is close the message and go directly to the website, bank, or organization it is allegedly from and verify yourself whether it's legitimate. Barr also warns to never use contact information sent in the message, just to be safe.
Another possible way to prevent fraud is a credit freeze. According to Barr, that can now be done for free in Idaho and can be done as often as needed. That can prevent anyone who may get ahold of personal information from opening a loan or other fraudulent charges in a person's name.
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