Actually, it’s always scam time, everywhere. People never think that they are going to be the one falling for a scam. We say to ourselves “I’m too sharp to fall for that kind of thing” or “That sort of thing would never happen to me.” But the truth is, plenty of smart, competent people of all ages fall for scams. That’s because scammers are dedicated professionals. Scamming is their full-time job and they are very good at it. They have spent hours figuring out exactly what to say and how to say it so that everything sounds plausible. And they are usually so personable and charming that they really do seem trustworthy.
Here are some of the top scams circulating right now. Sadly, we have had several clients fall victim to each one:
CURRENT (September 2020) Social Security Scam. This has happened to several clients and to Lisa Gammeltoft this month. A robocall purporting to be from the Social Security Administration informs you that your social security number is being used for fraud and that they are going to suspend it. (The robocall reads it as “IT”!) Dial 1 for more information. This is SCAM. A newer scam asks you to call 336-579-3394. Don’t do it. Social Security does not call you to inform you of a problem with your number or account and Social Security will never suspend or cancel your social security number in this manner. https://www.ssa.gov/scam/.
Publisher’s Clearing House Scam. There have been lots of Knoxville victims of this scam. No matter what the person on the phone says, no matter what official looking letter or email you receive (and it will look very official with the real logo and everything ), YOU have NOT won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. Major winners are notified in person. If someone contacts you claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House, and tells you that you’ve won a prize– then asks you to send money in order to claim the prize – STOP! You have not heard from the real Publisher’s Clearing House. It is still a scam even if they have sent you a (fake) check. The fake checks are look so real that your bank will let you deposit it, show the amount as deposited and not detect the forgery for several weeks. That several week period is when the scammers start hitting you up to pay taxes or fees so that they can send you the next installment. No payment, fee, tax or any amount is ever required to claim or receive a prize in a Publisher’s Clearing House giveaway and they do not ask for your bank information ever. Here’s a link from the real Publisher’s Clearing House about Publisher’s Clearing House fraud. How to Detect Publisher’s Clearing House Fraud
Internal Revenue Service Scams. If you get a telephone call from the Internal Revenue Service – HANG UP. If you have received a voicemail message from the IRS – DO NOT CALL BACK. The IRS does not call taxpayers. The IRS is not going cancel your social security number, stop your social security payments or issue a warrant for your arrest if you don’t call back or do what these people say. These scam calls may show up your caller ID as “IRS” or caller ID may include the words Internal or Revenue or Service or abbreviations like Int Rev Ser. DO NOT FALL FOR IT. The real IRS does not call taxpayers and the real IRS does not accept payments via wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, or iTunes gift cards.
If you receive an email from the IRS with a link to your “tax transcript” or anything else. DO NOT OPEN THE LINK. The IRS does not send emails to taxpayers. The IRS is not sending you a “tax reminder” or emailing you about your refund or stimulus payment no matter what it says in the Re: line. The IRS does not send those types of emails. But what if the email indicates that it is coming from “IRS.gov” or “IRS Online.” Isn’t that real? Nope, nope, nope. It is very easy for scammers to fake those addresses. Here is an excellent link to a list of current IRS scams from NerdWallet. Nerd Wallet – IRS Tax Scams
The IRS also tries to keep taxpayers alert to these scams. IRS Consumer Alerts – Tax Scams
Microsoft and oOher Tech Scams. If you get a telephone call from Microsoft (or anyone else saying) they’ve detected a problem with your computer and want to help you fix it – HANG UP. Even if you really are having a problem with your computer, this is a scam. HANG UP. Do not ever sit at your computer and let someone give you commands to type into your computer.
Grandparent Scams: You get a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild. He or she is in trouble: There’s been an accident, or an arrest, or a robbery. Or maybe they are hospitalized or stuck in a foreign country, robbed with no money to get home. The “grandchild” may even verify the story by having you to talk to “the doctor” or “the police officer” who is really an accomplice. Because it is so easy to for scammers to get facts about you and your family off the internet, the impersonation is usually quite convincing. Even if you are not on social media, your family members probably are. And sadly, obituaries provide scammers with a wealth of family information. If you receive one of these calls, don’t panic and don’t send money, no matter how dire the grandchild’s predicament sounds. Scam artists want to get you upset because it is hard for a person to think clearly if they are upset. Don’t volunteer any information and contact another family member as soon as possible to help sort out the situation.
The AARP has some great information about this scam. AARP Article on Grandparent Scams
Gold Coins: There is no doubt about it, gold has a certain allure as an investment. And that draws the scam artists. Again, the AARP has some good information. AARP Article on Gold Coin Scams
If you are ever in doubt as to whether an offer or prize is for real, before sending any money, reach out to a trusted family member, advisor or even the manager at your local bank and get a second opinion.There are times when two heads are better than one.