Tips for Avoiding Cyber Scams

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. What can you do to avoid being a victim of cyber crime? Criminals are increasingly using the internet to target victims, either to steal their identities or scam them out of a lot of money - or both. Below are some common types of cyber fraud, and tips to avoid them. You can read more about these scams on the Colorado Attorney General's Digital Fraud website.

  • Click bait scams. These are scams where criminals will create an intriguing post on social media with the purpose of tricking the victim into sharing personal information or even installing malware. Tip: when clicking on social media posts, if you receive a suspicious-looking popup asking you to update your video player or scan your computer for viruses, this may be a scam to install malware on your computer or device. But before you even click on the post, hover your cursor over the link to make sure it's taking you to a safe and familiar website. Even if the post appears to be from someone you know, cyber criminals will often hack into users' accounts - so if a link looks suspicious or unfamiliar, verify it is legitimate before clicking. 
  • Internet auction and classified ad sites. These kinds of scams use legitimate websites to lure customers into false purchases or which cheat sellers out of goods without paying for them. If you're selling items on an internet auction site, a fake "buyer" might pay for the item with phony checks or money orders. Other types of scams include fake advertisements for property rentals, where an interested renter clicks on a phony ad and is made to fill out a long "application" divulging all kinds of personal information. Also common are fake ticket scams. You send in money to buy tickets for an event, but the tickets never arrive. Tip: For sellers, don't ship items until you make sure the payment is legitimate. For buyers, do your research on a company by checking sites such as the Better Business Bureau. Don't give personal information such as social security numbers. And remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • "Money Flipping" Scams. These are essentially "get rich quick" schemes that advertise over the internet, promising that if you invest a small amount of money you can "flip" it into a larger amount. Tip: Always do your research on a company before sharing any personal or financial information. Your research might reveal complaints. Also, as with click bait scams, sometimes it might look like one of these money flipping deals is coming from someone you know - but it's possible their account may have been hacked, so always verify first. And again, trust your instincts. If it's too good to be true...
  • Negative Option Scams. These are scams that send you products you didn't order and then bill you for them. Or, they trick you into thinking you are ordering something once, only to be added to an "automatic delivery" over and over - again, sending you the bill. "Free trials" that collect money up front can fall into this category. Tip: Once again, do your research to make sure you are doing business with a legitimate company. Also, read the fine print. If you give your credit card number to get a free trial, be certain that the company won't automatically start billing you after the trial period is over, and be aware of their cancellation policies.
  • Tech Support Scams. These are common scams where you either get a phone call, an email, or a popup pretending to be from your company's IT department, or from your device's manufacturer or carrier (e.g., someone claiming to be from Microsoft calls and tells you your computer has a virus). They either trick you into revealing personal/financial information, or gain access to your computer and install their own viruses, spyware, and malware. Tip: Never give a stranger access to your computer or device. Keep your computer or device updated with the latest security software. Don't click on any suspicious email attachments, and do not respond to suspicious emails - just delete them. And if you're not sure, contact the company directly and ask them if a call or email you received is legitimate.
These are just a few of the many types of cyber scams. The Colorado Attorney General's Digital Fraud webpage includes more details on these and other scams, as well as tips on internet browsing safety, online shopping, smart phone security, and how to reduce spam. You can also use this website to report fraud. If you're a victim of identity theft, be sure to check out the AG's Identity Theft Repair Kit and other resources on their website.

scams, fraud


Time Machine Tuesday: Festival of Mountain and Plain

In 1895, Coloradans were looking for something to lift their spirits. Two years before, the state had been devastated by the worst economic crisis in its history. But after a couple of years had passed, the state was slowly recovering. So, what better way to boost morale and celebrate Colorado's resilience than with a giant party? The Festival of Mountain and Plain, as it was to be called, was planned by a committee of leading Denver citizens overseen by booster extraordinaire William N. Byers, the founder and former owner of the Rocky Mountain News.

Held October 16-18, 1895, the festival kicked off with an enormous parade through the streets of Denver. In celebrating the state's economic recovery, the parade featured floats highlighting Colorado's various industries -- mining, agriculture, manufacturing -- as well as floats from Denver school children and civic groups. A second, military parade was held the following day. In the evenings, 16th Street "from Larimer to Broadway" was lit with "over 3,000 electric globes." The final day of the festival included a band contest, a miner's drilling contest, "exhibits showing the resources of the state," a free football game, and, in City Park, an "Indian Festival" with "dances, sports and ceremonies by Ute and Santa Clara Indians." The festival culminated with a Grand Allegorical parade featuring the "Silver Serpent." Because Colorado's reliance on silver mining had been the cause of the 1893 crash, the festival symbolized the defeat of the "serpent."

The festival was considered an enormous success, with over 100,000 people attending. The event was so popular that it was held again each October through 1899. Each year, new attractions were added: a "Balloon Ascension and Parachute Jump" in 1896; an enormous outdoor masquerade ball in 1897; a horse show in 1899. After this time, however, interest began to wane. Festival organizers skipped 1900 and tried again in 1901, but this festival was not nearly as successful as it had been in the 1890s. A final attempt was made in 1912, but again, the festival failed to make enough money and to attract the numbers that it had during its first years. Those years, however, became legendary and the festival was long remembered in the memories of those who had lived in Denver in the 1890s. Today's many downtown festivals have their roots in the great Festival of Mountain and Plain.

In 1948, Levette J. Davidson published a two-part history of the Festival of Mountain and Plain in the Colorado Magazine. Part 1 can be found in the July issue and Part 2 appeared in the September issue. The articles present a detailed look at the festival programs, the reasons for its discontinuance, and some great photos of the floats and festivities.

The 1895 festival grandstand at Colfax and Broadway with view of the State Capitol. Courtesy Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department.


College Application Month

September 17 through October 31 is College Application Month in Colorado, "a six-week boot camp to get students to identify career goals, research matching education programs and apply successfully regardless of their postsecondary path," according to College in Colorado.

As part of College Application Month, Colorado is sponsoring Colorado Free Application Day this October 30. That day, all of Colorado's public higher education institutions, as well as several private institutions, are allowing students to apply with no application fee. Click here for a message from the Governor about Colorado Free Application Day, and see the College in Colorado's Free Application Day website for more details, including a list of participating institutions.

Still need help deciding what college path you'd like to take? Visit College in Colorado's College Planning webpage for helpful tips, a handy College Admissions Tool, and a guide to programs and majors.


2018 Election Information

2018 Colorado Blue Book ballot information
Election season has arrived! Ballots will be mailed started this Monday, October 15. This year's ballot will be one of the longest ever. To help you decide on the many issues on the ballot, the State Publications Library has made the "Blue Book" available in a variety of formats to suit your needs. "Blue Books" are the state's official ballot issue guides, prepared each election year by the non-partisan Colorado Legislative Council. Searchable PDFs of the Blue Book are available online in both English and Spanish. In addition, the Colorado Talking Book Library has recorded the entire Blue Book in audio format for voters who are visually impaired.

To find out more about the election and to access your voter registration information, visit the Colorado Secretary of State's website. To see previous years' Blue Books, visit our library's Blue Book finding aid.


Time Machine Tuesday: Victory Gardens

Victory gardens were a part of life on the home front during World War II. While farmers were encouraged to increase production to help feed the hungry soldiers, those living in urban and suburban areas were also encouraged to help the war effort by growing as much of their own food as possible. Eleanor Roosevelt even planted a victory garden on the White House lawn.

Many people who planted victory gardens were not experienced gardeners, or had only had small gardens before the war. So here in Colorado the Colorado State College (now Colorado State University) published a number of resources to help gardeners and small-size farmers learn the basics of home food production. Many of their publications focused on avoiding problems, such as diseases, which if controlled could lead to higher yield. One such publication, issued by the college's Experiment Station, was Psyllid Control on Potatoes and Tomatoes in the Victory Garden. Other wartime Colorado State College publications included Increasing Home Vegetable Gardening and Starting Vegetable Plants.

The College's Colorado Farm Victory Program published a series of brochures which included such titles as Alfalfa in Colorado; Diseases of Cucumber and Melons and Their Control; Concrete Tile for Sub-Irrigated Gardens; and Irrigation for Maximum Production.  Farm Victory Program brochures also focused on home food storage to reduce waste. Some of these titles include Drying Fruits and Vegetables; Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables; Preservation of Meat, Poultry and Fish by Freezing; Home Canning of Vegetables in a Pressure Cooker; Clean Milk and Cream: How to Produce Them; and even Pest Control on the Home Front. Search our library's online catalog for more Farm Victory Program brochures and other titles.


Minimum Wage in Colorado

Currently, Colorado's minimum wage is $10.20, or $7.18 for tipped employees. This was increased on January 1 of this year and will increase again on January 1, 2019 and January 1, 2020. This is due to Amendment 70, which was passed in the 2016 election and went into effect in the beginning of 2017. This constitutional amendment increases the minimum wage by $0.90 each year until it reaches $12.00 per hour in 2020. After that date, should no other amendments pass, the minimum wage will be adjusted for cost-of-living increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

For more information on Colorado's minimum wage, visit the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website. Here you will find the most recent Colorado Minimum Wage Order; fact sheets; minimum wage posters for places of business; resources in Spanish; more on Amendment 70; and a chart of Colorado's minimum wage back to 1998. You can also view prior Minimum Wage Orders via our library; search our web catalog for these and additional resources.


Identifying Students with Learning Disabilities

One of the most frequently-accessed publications in our library is the Colorado Department of Education's Guidelines for Identifying Students with Specific Learning Disabilities. This publication helps teachers and parents understand the processes of identification and how they work with state and federal laws. The guidebook discusses an approach that "provides interventions as part of a problem-solving process at the earliest indication of need." Information on how special education and general education can collaborate is included in the guidelines. Referral and evaluation, response to intervention (RtI), and areas of specific disability -- such as oral, written, listening comprehension, reading, or mathematical -- are also discussed. This is an essential resource for Colorado educators, administrators, and anyone working with schoolchildren with disabilities. 


Time Machine Tuesday: Traffic Data

As more and more people move to Colorado, we all spend a lot more of our time sitting in traffic. Colorado's highways were constructed in the mid-twentieth century, when the population was much lower. So how does your daily commute compare with a half-century ago?

In 1971, the Colorado Division of Highways released Traffic Volumes on Urban Freeways in Colorado, a report containing graphs and charts with average weekday traffic volumes for Colorado's highways. You can compare these numbers to the current traffic volumes, which are available in the Colorado Department of Transportation's Online Transportation Information System (OTIS) database, for some pretty amazing results!


Colorado Colleges and Universities: Aims Community College

Aims Community College, in Weld County, is what the Colorado Department of Higher Education calls a "local district community college," meaning that while it is a state-funded community college, it is not part of the Colorado Community College System but is locally managed.

The idea for a college in Weld County was first studied in 1965, according to the Aims history website. The college officially began in 1967. 949 students were enrolled that first year, and classes were held in Greeley's old Lincoln Elementary School until a permanent site was purchased in 1969. Construction of the campus buildings continued over the next several years. A South Campus opened west of Fort Lupton in 1984, and a Loveland campus opened its doors in 1987. A Windsor campus was added in 2010. Aims also offers online courses.

7,966 students were enrolled in Aims in 2016/17, the majority being under the age of 22. Check the college's website for additional stats, including information on tuition, financial aid, degrees awarded, and more.

In our library you can find a number of publications about Aims Community College, such as their annual budgets, historic and current college catalogs, annual report, and an economic impact summary.


Should Wolves be Reintroduced in Colorado?

If wolves were reintroduced in our state, would they benefit the environment or be a nuisance for ranchers? In spite of a 2016 resolution passed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife stating that wolves would not be purposefully reintroduced into the state (although those that wander here on their own won't be removed), the debate continues.

Andrew Gulliford, a professor if history and environmental studies at Fort Lewis College, is an advocate for reintroduction and recently co-edited a book outlining the science, and the debate, behind the reintroduction of wolves. According to Gulliford's blog posting for University Press of Colorado -- the publisher of his book The Last Stand of the Pack -- evidence for wolves' contribution to the ecology of the mountain west can be seen in Yellowstone:

I teach my college students that wolves brought songbirds back to Yellowstone. I explain that wolves cut the coyote population in half. With fewer coyotes there are more small rodents and mammals aerating the soil and providing better grasses. But the largest and most dramatic effect has been the culling of the Yellowstone elk herd. By 1995 the ungulates had done severe damage to the vegetation of the park. Wolves changed that. As wolf packs began to hunt elk, the wapiti were slowed and caught in downed timber along rivers and streams. So elk learned safety meant higher sagebrush benches where they could see and smell better. With fewer elk, plants recovered. Aspen thrived. And in this new thicker forest of riverine vegetation, beaver colonies established small pools, attracting other animals, insects, and, yes, butterflies.

The State of Colorado has been studying the issue of wolf reintroduction since the 1980s. In our library you can find several reports on the topic, including
The Last Stand of the Pack is also available for checkout from our library. This book was originally issued in 1929 by famed Colorado naturalist Arthur Carhart and Stanley P. Young. Gulliford and the aptly-named Tom Wolf edited the new edition for University Press of Colorado. This expanded edition contains new writings by Gulliford and other contributors who discuss the debate over reintroduction since Carhart's time.

For more information on Colorado Parks and Wildlife's 2016 resolution, see this fact sheet explaining their decision.

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