Current scams to watch out for
IRS impostor scams top the list of scams encountered in 2014 by consumers, according to Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming. And, according to Shelley Polansky, vice president of communications, these scams are showing no signs of losing steam in 2015.
In fact, the Post Independent has received several calls and emails this year about these and other scams. If someone says you owe money or seeks personal or account information, you very likely are being scammed. Hang up and report it.
Top scams in 2014, according to the BBB, were:
1. IRS IMPOSTER SCAMS: You receive a threatening phone call supposedly from the IRS claiming you have overdue taxes. Out of fear, many people pay without first checking with the IRS as to the validity of the call, but the IRS never calls in such instances. What to do? Hang up and report the call to your local police department and BBB.
2. TECH SUPPORT: Callers who claim to be from Microsoft, Norton or Apple claim they’ve noted a problem on your computer and can fix it for you. Once they’re given access, malware installed to steal personal information.
3. “ARE YOU CALLING YOURSELF”: Scammers make a call look like it’s coming from anywhere, even from you.
4. COPYCAT WEBSITES: Emails, texts or social media posts direct you to what looks like familiar retailer websites but are instead phony websites designed to steal your credit card info.
5. MEDICAL ALERT: A company calls claiming a concerned family member has ordered a medical alert device for you and now they need your credit card or banking information before sending the device — which never arrives.
6. GRANDPARENT SCAM: Also known as the emergency scam, this scam preys on seniors who get a call or email supposedly from their grandchild or other relative who was injured, arrested or robbed while traveling overseas and is in need of money. The scam also has occurred on Facebook or email accounts that have been hacked, and might be directed at people of any age.
7. GOVERNMENT GRANTS: You get a call saying you’ve been awarded a government grant worth thousands of dollars. All you have to do to collect is pay a fee via wire transfer or prepaid debit card.
8. ROBOCALLS: “Rachel from Cardholder Services” made a resurgence in 2014. This scam claims to lower your credit card interest rates, takes personal information and then charges fees to your card.
9. CLICK BAIT: Click bait schemes use celebrity images, fake news and enticing stories to trick you into unintentionally downloading malware onto your computer.
10. SWEEPSTAKES: You’ve won a contest! The lottery! The Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes! To claim your prize you’re instructed to pay fees and/or taxes so your prize can be released.
What You Can Do:
Don’t be pressured into making fast decisions.
Research the organization at bbb.org.
Never provide personal information (address, birth date, banking information, ID numbers) to people you do not know or trust.
Don’t click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
If you are unsure about a call or email that claims to be from your bank, utility company, etc., call the business from the number on your bill or the back of your credit card.
Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know or haven’t met in person.
Never send money for an emergency situation unless you’ve been able to verify the emergency (i.e. call another family member).
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Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room just before starting the overnight shift on Thursday evening.