Don't Become a Victim
April 2017 Newsletter
A world full of opportunities is bound to present a few bad apples from time to time. Scams are plentiful, and while they vary in nature, they share many warning signs. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) lists the most popular scams on their website, some of which are listed below:
Debt Collection and IRS Tax Scams
IRS tax scams have been an issue for thousands of people. In 2016, these scams accounted for 25% of reports to the BBB Scam Tracker. The victims were threatened with fines or arrests for non-existent tax debts and were told they needed to pay a portion of the debt to avoid these actions. Thousands were victimized and millions of dollars were stolen.
According to the IRS, they do not initiate contact by email, text messages or social media to
request personal or financial information. In addition, the IRS doesn’t threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action.
Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
Sweepstakes victims are contacted by a (fake) well-known organization or government agency. They are told they have won money or a prize, but they must first send money to pay for fees or taxes. Victims who wired the money never received their supposed winnings.
Lottery scam victims received unsolicited checks or money orders with directions to transfer a portion back to cover fees. Afterward, the victims learned the checks were counterfeit but couldn’t get back the money they had transferred. In addition, they had to pay their banks back for any money they had withdrawn.
Emergency situations are sometimes terrifying, and because of this, many people don’t respond in the most rational way. Scammers learned to take advantage of this long ago and have developed a variety of different emergency scams. The grandparent scam is when a young person acting as a grandchild presents a fake emergency and asks for financial help immediately. The relationship scam is when an online love interest can’t meet for a variety of reasons but suddenly experiences an emergency and needs money wired to them. Other urgent situations scammers use are arrests and muggings.
Scams are refined all the time, so they evolve and change according to what works. Becoming a victim of a scam can be avoided by being prepared for them. Please remember: be cautious with anyone you don’t know personally and never feel pressured to act immediately.
And, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.