Scammers will try to make themselves seem legitimate by using your personal information, the names of people close to you, or by disguising their identity.
The general rules to avoid scams are:
- If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. Emails, calls and texts that offer gifts or say "you won!" are almost always scams.
- NEVER click on links or attachments you receive through email or text unless you're sure they're legitimate. Scams will use emails in your contact list to make it seem like someone you know sent the link. Contact the person or company directly to confirm whether they sent you something.
- If a message is telling you to take action now or face fines, jail time, etc it's usually a scam. Scammers will send fake messages or calls that claim you owe money or that your account is in danger. They will ask for your passwords, money, or personal information
- NEVER send money or input personal information into a site unless you are SURE it is legitimate. If you receive a request unexpectedly, it's likely a scam.
- Don't panic! Scammers want to scare you so that you won't question their requests. Always double check
IRS Telephone Scam
The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS NEVER
asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone. For more information or to report a scam, go to www.irs.gov
and type "scam" in the search box.
Potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver's licenses revoked. Callers are frequently insulting or hostile - apparently to scare their potential victims.
Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
Other characteristics of this scam include:
- Fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it's the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver's license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here's what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you've never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
- If you've been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant" at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint
Avoiding Credit Card Fraud
Don’t give out your credit card number(s) online unless the site is a secure and reputable site. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but might provide you some assurance.
- Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
- Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
- Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
- Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
- Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).
- Keep track of your credit card usage. If you see any suspicious activity or lose your card, contact the card issuer immediately