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Scam Awareness

Proper steps to take against scammers

Annoying and sometimes dangerous telemarketing fraud and unwanted telephone calls are popping up more and more. It is the number one consumer complaint to the State Attorney General’s office.

Although a “do not call list” is in place, blocked sales organizations are sometimes disguising their locations by using local telephone numbers; including police and IRS numbers. These nuisances should be addressed by hanging up on robotic type calls rather than pressing a button when prompted. Actually pressing a button during one of these automated calls will confirm to the violators that your number is a valid one and calls will likely occur again. To register on the national “do not call list” log on the website www.donotcall.gov or call 888-382-1222.

Violators you wish blocked should be reported to the Attorney General’s office by calling 877-5No-Scam (877-566-7226) or by filing a complaint online. You might also contact your local telephone service provider about technology that may be available to block these type of calls, as well as anonymous or private numbers. The Attorney General’s office does partner with other states, as well as local, federal and international law enforcement to attempt locating and stopping telemarketing fraud rings. Experts with the Attorney General’s office will also work with victims to help reduce losses and prevent follow-up scams. Sharing information also helps to warn and educate other consumers.

There are many scams being used against victims. Below is a list of frequently used scams the public should be aware of:

The scam artist on the prowl – Representing fake charities or offering fake prizes are common scams people fall for. And beware of long lost relatives claiming a desire to send an inheritance as long as the victim sends funds for legal fees to process the transaction (be especially careful if the money is held overseas).

The IRS Phone Scam – Con artists impersonate IRS agents to try and collect phony back taxes. Never share personal information with these callers. Notification from the IRS will always arrive in writing and never be through telephone contact. This scam is usually very aggressive and intimidating. It is so prevalent in Brunswick County that the Sheriff’s Dept. posted a warning to local resident via Face Book.

Jamaican Lottery Scam – No lottery can be won without first purchasing a ticket. No huge sum of money will be distributed unless a ticket drawing is involved. Hanging up the phone on this type call is the best way to handle it.

Grandchild in Trouble Scam – A common practice of scam artists is pretending to be a grandchild calling about a dire situation like being very ill or having been arrested. The scammer typically is aware of just enough about the victim to manipulate into forwarding money to bail the child out of the situation.

Just remember that if your instinct tells you to beware, it is likely a scam. Share this knowledge with friends and relatives. And avoid answering unrecognizable numbers. If a caller is legitimate, they will typically leave a message.


Tips to protect against scammers

Below is a list of five things scammers may do that the IRS will never do:

1)       Call demanding immediate payment or referencing a tax bill owed

2)       Demand payment of taxes without offering the opportunity to question or appeal the amount

3)       Require a specific payment method

4)       Ask for a debit or credit card number over the phone

5)       Threaten to arrest or involve law enforcement

What to do when taking a scammer’s call

1)       Do not give out any information and hang up immediately

2)       Contact Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) using IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting on the web page:www.treasury.gov/tigta/ -OR- call 800-366-4484 to report to the Federal Trade Commission using FTC Complaint Assistant at: www.FTC.gov.


Information  from Sept 2016 publication at www.livinoutloudmag.com