In October 2015, the IRS reported that tax scams cost victims $23 million per year. Do you know someone who’s been affected by a scam, identity theft or other fraudulent activity? Here’s a look at a couple of the most active fraud scams in the United States today.
The Tax Man maileth, not calleth.
A popular scam among fraudsters is an aggressive, unsolicited phone call where victims are told they owe money to the IRS and must pay it promptly via pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims are threatened with arrest, driver license suspension and deportation. The scammers will use bogus IRS identification numbers to appear legitimate, and are often combative and intimidating. It’s important to note that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will they call to discuss taxes without first mailing you a bill. They also will not ask for credit or debit card information over the phone, or threaten to alert the police or other law enforcement. Should you receive such a call, hang up immediately, and alert your friends and neighbors to do the same. You can report scams on the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page, or call 800-366-4484.
Phishing in troubled waters
The Federal Trade Commission’s consumer information website is a treasure trove of information about the latest fraudulent scams. Phishing scams have grown increasingly popular. This is when a fraudster attempts to impersonate a legitimate business and trick you into sharing personal information.
A current phishing scam noted by the FTC is an email with the subject line “Get Protected,” and content about new features from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that can help taxpayers monitor their credit reports and know about unauthorized use of their Social Security number. It even cites the IRS and the official-sounding “S.A.F.E Act 2015.” It sounds real, but it’s all made-up. Clicking on links can allow the fraudsters to install viruses and spyware on your computer, or trick you into entering personal information on what looks like a legitimate site.
Never reply or respond to emails, texts or Internet pop-up messages that ask you for personal information. Don’t click on the links either. Go directly to your institution’s website by typing in the URL in the address – and pass on the word to others in your community. Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels.
Fraud Prevention for the DIY-er
Create the Good has a do-it-yourself toolkit to help you make a difference in your community by empowering your neighbors to take a stand against fraud. With just a few hours of your time, Operation Fight Fraud will show you how to help others check their credit reports, remove information from call lists and shred personal documents with sensitive information. No special skills are required.
AARP’s Fraud Watch Network offers free tips and resources to combat fraud, including watchdog alerts, a fraud watch helpline and updates on the latest fraudulent scams affecting your state. Take a preparedness quiz, share a story about how fraud has affected you or family, and gather the information you need to get the upper hand on crime.