IRS Phone Scams: Be Smarter Than Them

December 10th, 2013

Taxpayers, beware: the IRS has recently reported that there has been an increase of fraudsters impersonating IRS agents that call unsuspecting people across the country demanding they pay taxes that they don’t even owe to the government. The victims are often immigrants, who answer their phone only to be informed that they owe the IRS a substantial sum and will need to pay immediately, either by loading money on a prepaid credit card or by wire transfer. If they argue or refuse to pay, they can then be threatened with arrest or even deported. This, of course, is completely bogus.

The reason these calls seem so convincing to people is because the scammers use caller ID spoofing and make sure that the IRS’s toll-free phone number appears on the victim’s caller ID. Additionally, they might make up bogus badge numbers and may know the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.

If you want to avoid getting duped, don’t believe anyone claiming to be the IRS who calls asking for payment over the phone or via wire transfer. The IRS said it will never ask for payments to be made by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, and they normally only communicate via mail. If you are ever the victim of one of these scams or have had someone call you claiming to be with the IRS, then you should contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration immediately.

Black Friday and Holiday Scams: What To Look Out For

November 26th, 2013

With Black Friday right around the corner, it’s important to be wary of all the scams that are going around. More and more scams have been popping up over the past few days as cybercriminals try to take advantage of the deals offered on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The scam itself is simple. A person might receive a fake delivery confirmation email from companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, Amazon, eBay, etc. The link in these emails carry phishing attack that prompt the user to download malware. Many of these types of scams will also send an email telling the customer to act fast before the deal expires. Sadly, many people fall for it.

The best piece of advice we can give you concerning these types of scams is to not open any emails from suspicious senders. Also, don’t open any attachments that you’re not expect, nor should you believe any online promotions that sound too good to be true. Follow these tips, and you should have a safe and joyous holiday season.

Disaster Relief Scams: Don’t Become a Victim Yourself

November 19th, 2013

Disaster Relief Scams are on the rise as of late due in part to recent tragedies in the world, such as the typhoon in Philippines and tsunami in Japan. These tragic events bring about two types of people: those who want to donate and help, and those who are looking to exploit the tragedy for their own personal gains. The latter consist of scammers who set up fake charity websites that end up stealing money donated to the victims of disasters. They might send you an email linking you to a webpage that looks legitimate, but in reality is anything but.

If there is a request for a donation via email, there is also a strong chance that it’s a phishing attempt as well. Never click on a link in any email that’s sent from an unverified source, nor should you volunteer your bank account or credit card information to an uncredited charity website. Steer clear of sites like that, and if you do want to donate, then you should contact a legitimate charity such as the Red Cross. There are many other reputable charities out there, it’s just a matter of doing the research beforehand to find out which ones they are.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday Scams

November 12th, 2013

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, shoppers have a lot to look forward to this holiday season. But with holiday shopping comes something every shopper should watch out for. It’s an unfortunate fact, but this is also the season where scammers thrive.

There are several scams to watch out for, here are just a few of them and how to avoid them:

1.Free Best Buy Gift Card Scam: Last year, scammers were able to con many consumers by texting them that if they entered a code on a particular website, that they would receive a free $1,000 Best Buy gift card. One they did this, their computers ultimately ended up becoming infected and precious information compromised. The scam is likely to return this year so it’s important to be on the lookout for it.

2. Fake Ads and Coupons: Because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge days for coupon-clippers, it’s important to verify whether coupons you cut are actually official and not the product of scammers looking to make an easy dollar off your trust. In this scam, a websites will offer you a free downloadable coupon. But what actually happens is they plant malware on your computer once you download the “coupon”. Steer clear of this scam by not downloading anything off of a website unless it’s a trusted source.

3. Fake eCards and Videos: These scams are not limited to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and can happen anytime during the holiday season.  In this scam, a phishing account on Twitter and Facebook, or possibly just an email account, will send you a holiday/shopping themed video. Once the content of this email is opened and downloaded, a virus is essentially planted onto the users computer and sensitive information and even a person’s identity can be stolen. Only open emails and downloads from trusted sources to avoid becoming a victim.

4. Internet Search scam: Even if you’re a savvy internet user, you can still fall victim to this scam. Basically, scammers will heavily promote a website related to Black Friday/Cyber Monday. They will use keywords like iPad, iPhone, PS4, and so on. These websites can often times end up on the first page of your search results and may look legit, but once you click on their website, malware/spyware can easily be installed onto the unsuspecting users name. The best way to avoid falling victim? Install antivirus software on your computer, and steer clear of any website that may seem suspicious.

Employment Scams: Don’t Be Out of a Job AND In Debt!

November 5th, 2013

So the scam goes like this. You post your resume on a website with at least some of your personal data  being accessible by potential employers, on a legitimate employment site. You receive an email with a job offer to become a “financial representative” for an overseas company. Chances are you’ve never heard of them before. They claim they want to hire you, but the company has problems accepting money from US customers and they need you to handle those payments. That additional mention that you will be paid 5 to 15 percent commission per transaction. Once you apply, you will essentially be providing the scammer with your personal data, such as bank account information in order to get paid. However, instead of getting paid, you might end up being a victim of identity theft, stolen money from your account, or you may receive fake checks which you must deposit in your account then mail 90% of it to your employer. Since the check was fake, you’ll basically have to end up paying your bank in the end. Moral of the story: don’t fall victim to this scam and always be wary of job offers from shady companies!

Art Scams: Don’t Fall For Them

October 29th, 2013

It’s unfortunate, but in today’s world hardworking artists are increasingly being targeted in internet scams. A struggling artist wants nothing more than to be “discovered” too, which makes this scam all the more devastating once they realize they’ve been swindled. The scam itself is simple.You receive an email from an admiring collector and wealthy buyer who is interested in purchasing your art or using it to exhibit in their gallery. They will usually want to make the shipping arrangements themselves or have someone pick the art for them rather than have you ship it to them. You receive payment in the form of a cashier’s check and hand your artwork over to the party. Only weeks later (after an attempt to clear) you discovered that the check is fraudulent and you’re art is lost forever. It’s important to remember these things before selling your artwork:

  • Never ship your artwork to someone without making sure the payment has cleared.
  • Don’t deal with people who insist it is “urgent” that they receive the item in a hurry.
  • Check to see if the gallery actually wants to exhibit your work, or a company wants to license your art.
  • Beware of galleries and publishers who will charge artists to have their work included in an exhibition or publication.

And always remember, if you suspect fraud or are a victim of fraud, take immediate action by contacting the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) at www.ic3.gov or the Federal Trade Commission through their web site at www.ftc.gov.

Government Grant Scams: Watch Out For Them!

October 13th, 2013

There’s a new type of fraudulent telephone fraud currently sweeping parts of the nation. The con is known as a Government Grant scam. The scam itself is quite simple. You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be associated with the US Government. They inform you that you have been awarded a substantial government grant.  After they ask you to confirm your name and mailing address, the caller will then ask for the name of your bank, the routing number, and your personal account number so that they may withdraw a “processing fee” before you receive the grant money. There is of course no government grant. The person who called will more than likely wipe your account clean of your money and never be heard from again. Don’t fall victim to this scam!

There are many ways to spot this scam. Here are a few:

  • Beware of callers who claim that you have been awarded a government grant. Remember that people generally will not call to offer you money.
  • Never send any money to “verify,” “guarantee,” or “process” your alleged grant. If they request a fee, it’s a scam.
  • Never give anyone your personal finance information or SSN. If this information lands in a scammers hand’s not only can money be taken but your identity can be stolen as well.
  • Always request information in writing. If the grant is legitimate, the caller shouldn’t have a problem mailing you the information on it
  • Trust your instincts and remember that if an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.

If you’re the victim of this scam or someone has tried to scam you using this method then be sure to call the authorities immediately!

Paying Advanced Fees For Guaranteed Loan or Credit Card Scam

September 24th, 2013

Ever thought about applying for a pre-approved loan or a credit card that oddly enough asked for an up-front fee? If you have then it’s important to ask yourself why any bank in its right mind would do that. If you think about it though, you will soon realize that this is nothing but a scam.

You should remind yourself that while reputable credit card companies do charge an annual fee, this is typically applied to the balance of the card, never during the sign-up process. Furthermore, if you end up paying your balance in full each month, a legitimate bank will often wave the annual fee.

As for these “incredible” pre-approved loans for your business or for real estate; they’re nothing but scams as well. No legitimate bank is going to give you a pre-approved loan since they don’t personally know you or your credit situation. There is no way they’re going to give you a loan with a massive credit limit.

It’s unfortunate, but a sizable percentage of people fall victim to this scam by taking the bait and paying an up-front fee for a loan they will never receive. The crazy part is even if only one in every thousand people fall for the scam, the scammers can still can end up with several hundred dollars. It’s important to remember that if you see a scam like this in the future, avoid it at all costs and don’t become a victim!

Street Scams: The “Hey You Broke My Glasses!” Edition

September 17th, 2013

If you’ve ever lived in NYC there is a strong chance that you’ve come across this old time scam. It used to be quite prevalent, and today you can still find con artists using it on unsuspecting victims. The scam itself is simple. A random stranger will bump into you. Often times they might be big and intimidating. The person will then point out and claim that you had inadvertently broken their glasses. He will claim he is a hardworking man and struggling to put food on the table and the last thing he can afford is to pay for a new pair of glasses. He might then ask you to pay for at least half of the expected repair (say it’s $50). Many people fall right into this trap and thing they are at fault for bumping into the person but in truth, it was nothing but an elaborate scam. So the next time someone bumps into you and claims that you broke their item, whether it be glasses, a watch, or an electronic device, don’t fall for it and seek out a policeman immediately.

Online Coupon Scams: Deals Too Good To Be True!

September 3rd, 2013

We want to preface this by saying that it is possible to find great deals on the internet with the use of coupons. However, many times coupon offers are simply too good to be true and people can get easily scammed in the process. Say for example, you come across an online offer for a free $500 gift card for participating in a short survey. You are asked a bunch of questions, some of which are pertaining to products you like and use, but also many of which are personal and confidential. Well congratulations, because you’ve more than likely just been scammed. Scammers know people are always looking for a good deals online using coupons, so many of them will create a fake website offering bogus coupons or gift cards in exchange for your personal information. The lesson to be learned here is to avoid being an easy target. If something sounds too good to be true on the internet, then it probably is. If you need help identifying whether a coupon or offer is genuine or not, then we strongly suggest you check out the Coupon Information Center website.