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State issues business identity theft warning

Identity theft — we are faced with it in our personal lives in the form of credit card fraud, loss of identification, and so many other scams that many of us are not even aware of.

But what about your business? Who could possibly steal the identity of your business?

As a release from the State of Colorado indicates: “This is a relatively new development in identity theft. A criminal ‘hijacks’ a business’ identity and uses that identity, and the business’ good credit history, to establish lines of credit with banks or retailers. They can then purchase goods, gift cards, and other items that can be bought and exchanged for cash, or sold with relative ease.”

Corporate identity thieves change the business’ registered agent’s information and addresses in order to imply they have a legitimate stake in the company, or act as an agent of the business. They then use this maliciously altered information along with other records (also altered or forged) to apply for lines of credit from major retailers. Before the company realizes what has happened, it starts to receive calls from debt collectors and suffers damage to its credit report.

How do you protect your business?

There are some steps you can take to deter a full-scale business identity theft scam: 1. Obtain a commercial credit report for your business. 2. Sign up for electronic notifications with your bank, other creditors and service providers. 3. Subscribe to the Colorado Secretary of State’s e-mail notification services. In this way, as soon as any change is made to your records, you will be immediately alerted by the secretary of state’s office when someone changes your records. 4. Bookmark and garner other tips from the new website, www.protectyourbusiness.us, put together by the offices of the Colorado Secretary of State, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Identity Theft Unit, and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

We will add this information to the Tools for Business Success section of the Chamber website to give you a direct link to www.protectyourbusiness.us.

These alerts will allow businesses to take quick action to help stop the crime before any real damage is done, at the same time providing law enforcement time to take action.

If you believe you have been a victim of business identity theft, contact our local law enforcement agencies to file a report. Contact all of your business’ banks or credit providers and report the theft, and contact the largest credit reporting agencies and speak with representatives of the fraud departments to report the crime and view your business credit report.

Along with adding this information onto the Tools for Business Success, the Chamber has a handout that will be in the upcoming newsletter. Please, keep this information handy. We never think this type of disaster will happen to us, but how many of us have had it happen or know someone who has been the victim of identity theft? Protect yourself as much as possible by following the simple guidelines listed above.

A.M. Pagosa Update

Although we are still in the throes of a very busy summer, I hope that individuals and businesses will take time to attend the Chamber’s A.M. Pagosa Update in August, as we get back to hosting informational breakfast meetings. On Tuesday, Aug. 10, at 7:30 a.m., we will provide information on a very important topic in our community — health care and Pagosa Mountain Hospital.

Brad Cochennet, hospital administrator, will speak about the major changes that are occurring at the hospital. His talk will be entitled, “Health care: Where have we been and where are we going?” Brad will discuss an anticipated integrated health system for the community, the components of our health care services, and the role of being the primary care provider.

This topic is important to residents and businesses alike.

The A.M. Pagosa Update is open to everyone. Walk-ins are always welcome; however, we ask that you R.S.V.P. so we can make sure we have enough food. Please call the Chamber at 264-2360 to reserve a spot. The session will be held at the Pagosa Mountain Hospital and the breakfast is $5. With the food for the stomach and the brain — it’s worth every penny.

Cruisin’ in Pagosa

Don’t miss the race for the average Joe, aka the Cruise-a-Thong, to be held on Saturday, July 24.

It’s a crazy day, and a relaxing event. Never seen or been to a Cruise-a-Thong? Here’s the setup. There will be a cruise through town on your best — or worst — bike. Then, don your flip-flops and cruise through town. Finish up this not-so-intense triathlon with a float down the river in a tube or other inflatable device. The winner will be the contestant with the most “average” time.

The race begins at 11 a.m. in Yamaguchi Park. Of course, extra points will be given for decorative effects, including costuming or add-ons to your triathlon equipment.

Prior to the race is the second annual Bloody Mary Showdown. Beginning at 9 a.m., contestants will compete for the “best” Bloody Mary award. To attend the tasting in Yamaguchi Park, tickets are $10. Tasting will continue until 11 a.m. when the race starts. There will be a People’s Choice award.

For more information or a registration form for either event, go to www.cruiseathong.com. Remember that all events start and finish in Yamaguchi Park.

Art Walk

The Pagosa Art Walk begins Friday, July 30. You can shop late, enjoy an evening out when the weather cools off and see some of the great art at various galleries and retail stores.

You will be able to tell which businesses are participating by the red flags hanging outside the stores. Galleries like Wild Spirit Gallery and Artisans of the Southwest will be open until 9 p.m. Other stores, such as Estudio y Gallaria, will be open until 8 p.m. Many other stores will have extended hours on this day.

After July, the monthly Art Walk is expected to be held the third Friday of each month. Get your family and/or visiting friends out for an evening in Pagosa, and enjoy the culture in your own backyard.

Membership news

We have longtime residents to welcome aboard this week. Chadd and Christa Carnley join the Chamber with their water hauling business, The Water Runner. The Water Runner has been in business 11 years, providing bulk water delivery services. Rates vary depending on fuel cost and location of deliveries. Call the Carnleys for a quote for water delivery service at 731-5022.

We have a number of renewals this week: Lvonne Wilson and Home Again; Bacci Italian Restaurant; Whut Marketing Solutions; Acres Green RV Park; Pam Barsanti; Aspenwinds Condo Reservations; the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association; and Action Insurance.

Remember that our newsletter will be coming out the beginning of August and will have all the information that you need concerning our upcoming ColorFest activities. If you would like to include an insert into this newsletter, have 650 copies to our offices by Wednesday, July 28. The Chamber newsletter is a great way to spread information about your business, a new service you are offering, or a special you provide. For more information about a newsletter mailing, contact the Chamber.