|Credit: Stuart Miles|
Muffled Voice: “This is the United States Treasury Department, and we are calling to notify you that you have several years of back taxes coming due.”
Me: “Really? I’m surprised to hear that. What tax years are in question?”
Muffled Voice: “You have several years of back taxes coming due, and you need to make a payment or face a lien on your property. You can pay now by credit card or wire transfer.”
Me: “That’s not going to happen. To which IRS Center should I make my payment (yep, that was a CPA joke)?”
That call was a pathetic fraud, but I can see how it could scare someone who did not have their wits about them into divulging personal information and maybe even giving out a credit card number. Luckily, I didn’t fall for that farce (that is evidently still going on), but too many people have fallen victim to many similar scams. Today, I thought I’d give you a heads up on some of the latest scams that are out there.
- Scam #1: Congratulations! You’ve won a sweepstakes or random drawing, but there’s just one thing, you’re pretty sure you didn’t enter. Once they ask you for banking information so they can withhold the proper taxes and send you your winnings, go ahead and wish them an unpleasant day.
- Scam #2: You’ve won a free cruise or a vacation? I doubt it. Once they ask you for personal information so you can claim your prize and await further instructions, go ahead and hang up. Cruise on to whatever else you had planned for the day.
- Scam #3: You get a call from a “friend” telling you one of your family members is in jail. This is evidently a favorite to use on grandmas whose grandsons are in jail and are “too embarrassed” to call their parents. Please don’t wire any bail money and promise to keep it a secret…
- Scam #4: If you frequently sell things online personally or as part of your business, and someone sends you a check that is larger than your agreed upon price and they ask you to just send them the difference back, I hope you hear the alarm bells. They’re probably trying to get the difference from you in real money and leave you with a not-so-real check!
- Scam #5: Would you like to buy this widget at a discounted price that’s only available for a limited period of time? I hope you don’t, but if you do, I hope you wouldn’t be so easily pressured into quickly handing over your personal and financial information.
- Scam #6: Would you like to make a donation to the United Thieves of the Southeastern United States to benefit those who suffer from Antarctican Measleitis (asked in a super sweet voice)? With apologies to those who suffer from Antarctican Measleitis, no! Stick to the charities and causes you know. Your support is very much appreciated.
- Scam #7: You get an email from one of your friends (whose email address has been hacked) telling you they randomly took an international trip, are in trouble, and need money. First, how many people take random international trips? Second, if your friend took a random trip to Mozambique without telling you they were going, aren’t you a little peeved? Why would you send them money? Third, call your friend, and see if they are okay. I’d be willing to bet they are, and whatever you do, don’t click the link!
- Scam #8: You’re staying in a nice hotel, it’s kind of late in the evening, and you get a call from “the front desk” letting you know there was a glitch with the computer system and they lost your credit card information on file. They either need you to come down with your card or go over your information with them over the phone. You’re tired and tying your shoes again seems like a more significant inconvenience than it probably should, so you might be tempted to give your name as it is written on the card, your credit card number, expiration date, and the 3- or 4-digit security code. Don’t do it! It’s probably not the front desk of the hotel. Much more likely, it’s the guy two people behind you when you checked in who heard your last name and room number when the clerk wished you a nice stay!
I believe there really are a lot of good people out there in today’s world, but unfortunately, there are some real stinkers, too. There are some very sick and evil people who prey on the naïve, the lonely, and the elderly. Sadly, they are somewhat successful at it. Please be smart. Don’t give anyone anything unless you’re sure they are who they claim. Ask them questions they should be able to answer. Call them back on phone numbers you look up and email them back at email addresses you search for to test them.
Don’t fall for these scams. Don’t let your friends fall for them either.