Tag Archives: scams

New Year, Same Scams

The Tax Season is upon us, and once again the “IRS Scam” will be rearing its ugly head.  As I teach my students, as I’ve discussed in public lectures and presentations, this is one of the most insidious scams out there, and one that’s easily avoided.  Except that most people, especially seniors who were raised to trust and respect authority, continue to fall prey to it.  Face it, if you’re confronted with a phone caller who tells you that you might be served a warrant, your first instinct would be to be scared.  Your second might be to comply.  Except that you shouldn’t.

That’s because the IRS will NEVER initially call you regarding ANY issue.  The keyword here is initially.  If the IRS wants to contact you, they will initially send you a letter.  That’s right, via “snail mail,” i.e., the US Postal Service.  Once you have that letter, you might need to call THEM, and then you can establish a phone dialogue, but their initial contact with you will be via mail.  If you receive a phone call that you are not expecting from someone claiming to be from the IRS, just hang up (or, if you are being more adventurous, dare them to serve you with the warrant, and then hang up!).

It’s not just the IRS scam.  The Microsoft Tech Support scam is still alive and well, especially now that many have downloaded and installed Windows 10.   When you get a call from someone saying that they’re from “Microsoft Tech Support,” the first thing you must ask yourself is, “am I expecting this call?”  The second thing you must ask yourself is “how do they even know what operating system I’m running”?  But, in the end, you need to know that the REAL Microsoft Tech Support will never call you out of the blue. They will call in response to a request from you, but never without such a request.  If you get a call like this, you could play around with the caller a bit and ask him or her if they know what OS you’re running, what service pack or version you’re running (even if you don’t know what version you’re running), but it’s best just to hang up.  And never, never, never, give any identifying information (userids, passwords), let alone a credit card number.  Just hang up.

Another phone scam – watch out!

Beware of the one-ring scam

As scams go, this one is very stealthy, clever, and dangerous.  How often do we see a phone number for a missed call pop up on our smartphone, and think of calling that person back?  Well, if that person isn’t in your phone book, you had better think again.  Just calling that phone number could send you to a foreign porn site, and end up costing you a LOT of money.  The article gives some very good advice from the Better Business Bureau (BBB):

The BBB said the scam calls usually come from outside the United States, including from numbers with area codes 268, 809, 876, 284 and 473.

Now, we all know that not all of the potential contacts we have (or need) are in our smartphone’s contact list.  Maybe you are waiting for a call from a potential employer, or a potential client, and you haven’t added them into your contacts list.  But, as the article points out, you could paste that phone number into the site whocalled.us  I pasted both my smartphone’s number and my home number into that site.  While both results didn’t state who I am, they both came back with the correct registrant of my phones.

The best advice is the same advice I have for potential victims of spam, especially spam stating that your account (usually your bank account) has been compromised.  You have to ask yourself:

  • “Do I even have an account with this bank?”
  • If the answer to that question is yes, then you must ask “am I expecting such an e-mail?”  And . . . “would my bank even contact me this way?”

If you don’t know who the phone number is from, then just delete it from your phone log and your phone message box.  If the caller really is someone important that isn’t stored in your contacts list, the caller will get back with you.