DENVER - The Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO) is warning consumers about written and oral communications from individuals fraudulently representing themselves as state employees and threatening their license.
Victims of this scam are contacted over the phone by someone misrepresenting themselves as a state employee/member of Board staff, and told that their license has been suspended. The fraudulent caller, when connected in person to the licensee or consumer, then explains the licensee can extricate themselves from the situation, or “clear their name,” by submitting a large-sum wire transfer and responding immediately to requests for faxed information.
The phone number used by the scammers closely resembles a Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) phone extension or is an exact “spoof” of an actual employee number. Statutory citations that may be unrelated to the individual’s license are used in justifying the alleged suspension. Public information available on the licensees may be used to verify data on the licensee or consumer. Victims also may be told that their social security number has been compromised and that they need to provide that information.
“Unscrupulous activity poses a threat to Colorado consumers and we want to ensure that they are armed with actionable information to combat such tactics,” DPO Director Ronne Hines said. “The perpetrators of these spoofing schemes can be convincing in using seemingly legitimate means for illegitimate gains.”
Licensees and the general public should be aware that:
- written documentation may have multiple misspellings;
- the scammer may not have full command of English or Spanish (languages DPO uses to communicate with licensees);
- references could be made to unrelated Boards with no authority over licensure;
- references may be made to federal cases allegedly underway.
The public should be diligent in their vetting process. Note that the Division may call requesting a response to a complaint and/or to ensure receipt of an email related to Board correspondence. Certified letters are required in limited circumstances when it is a statutory requirement but this scenario is fairly rare.
It is not unusual for Board or Division staff to request a timely response to an inquiry via email. Should a licensee be unresponsive to communication attempts through email, a follow-up letter or call may occur as a next step. Licensees may cross-check that the caller is legitimate by asking them to provide details on previous correspondence.
It is important to note that DPO employees will not call in reference to unrelated federal and state agency inquiries. Board/Division staff will never request a large-sum wire transfer by fax or otherwise in order for the licensee to “clear” his or her name.
DPO does not accept payment by phone or wire transfers - only online transactions and check or money orders sent by mail. Be careful of descriptions of “time sensitive” opportunities, such as attempts to keep individuals on the phone in order to solicit immediate payment to extricate the licensee from a disciplinary situation.
Further, should there ever be an actual issue with a license, and if an investigation is undertaken by the division, licensees can expect to receive a certified letter from the corresponding licensing board.
If consumers or licensees have doubts about the legitimacy of a call, they should take extensive notes, including confirming the employee’s name, email address, phone number, and details of the alleged violation. Ask if you can call back, and then dial DORA’s main phone number found on the official DORA website and request to speak with that employee.
If fraudulent activity is confirmed, contact local law enforcement, the Office of the Attorney General, and/or the corresponding Board with authority over an individual’s license to report the information.
Consumers with questions about a professional or occupational license under DPO’s jurisdiction can contact Customer Service by phone (303-894-7800) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or visit the DPO website to lodge concerns and file a complaint.