Imposter scams – when criminals disguise their true identity, pretending to be someone trustworthy in an attempt to obtain money from their victims – can happen anywhere, and to anyone. Imposters go to great lengths to appear real and manipulate their victims, and we’re not seeing any sign of these scams slowing. In order to combat this growing trend, the Federal Trade Commission recently released educational videos and articles to help consumers and businesses alike avoid some of the most common imposter scams facing us today. The first of this two-part series takes a look at some of the most prevalent: IRS and tech support scams.
IRS Imposter Scams
Tax season is already a stressful period for many, and it’s made even worse by imposters pretending to be someone they’re not. We’ve discussed various types of tax fraud in the past, but an IRS imposter scam is a bit different. A scammer will send an email, text or call claiming you owe taxes, or there that there is an issue with your return, and can even rig your caller ID to look official. These are alarming messages for anyone to receive, and a scammer could take advantage of your anxiety to extort money.
Before panicking, remember this: the first method of contact from the IRS is always via a letter in the mail. If you’re receiving a message in any other format, especially if it’s suggesting paying with a debit card or wire transfer, it’s likely bogus.
Tech Support Scams
With how much time we spend on the Internet, it’s possible we may have picked up a computer virus along the way. Scammers know this, and may pose as a tech company to warn you about a potential infection.
These scammers come with varying intentions. They may want to sell you useless software services, steal your credit card number, or get access to your computer to install malware. If you receive a call or an email like this, take a moment to stop and think. Never give control of your computer or your credit card information to anyone that contacts you out of the blue.
We’ll cover two additional imposter threats in an upcoming blog post. Meanwhile, if you do suspect someone attempting to scam you, report it at FTC.gov/imposters. Have you been the victim of a scam? We’d love to hear from you – join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.