The Odessa Record -

IRS phone scams, and others, surface again


February 8, 2018

An advisory put out by the Grant County Sheriff’s Office has reported that the IRS phone scam is popping up again locally. It (and other similar scams) will likely continue to plague citizens. More often than not, there isn’t much law enforcement can do because the scams often originate overseas or are extremely difficult to trace.

The IRS scam is simply that someone calls saying they’re from the IRS, that back taxes are owed and if you don’t pay up now, the cops are coming to your house to arrest you. It’s a scam, and it’s been circulating for years. Just hang up.

The best protection members of the public have is their wits. Self-protection by being skeptical can help prevent the loss of hard-earned money.

Examples of other scams are provided here in order to help citizens be more careful:

Internet/email phishing: Phishing is a term that means getting your personal information by deception and using the information to steal your identity. A common phishing scheme comes through your email and disguises itself as a bank that needs to update your personal information. No matter how legitimate the message looks, never send personal information over the Internet unless you initiate the contact.

Nigerian scheme: You receive a letter, email or fax asking you to deposit checks or money orders, or asking for your bank account information. You may be asked to deposit money and then wire a percentage back to the scammer. The checks and money orders are counterfeit. You will end up paying back thousands to the bank. This scam often originates out of Nigeria. The scammers will have a seemingly good reason for asking your help. Do not believe them.

Advance fee loan: The scammers claim they can obtain a loan for you but you have to pay in advance. They may give an address in the U.S. but the address is bogus. They often want you to wire the advance fee to Canada. They tell you that once they receive the fee, they will deposit the loan proceeds into your bank account. You keep looking for the promised loan to show up in your bank account. The scammers then may tell you they need more money to insure the loan. You may end up sending more money. Again, the loan proceeds do not show up in your account. They promise you a refund within a couple of weeks once you tell them you want to cancel. Eventually, they will not accept any calls and the phone number may no longer be in use. You have been taken for hundreds of dollars. Remember, once you get on a scam list, they will call you again and again.

Government grants: Someone calls you on the phone indicating that they are from the government and that the government wants to give you a government grant. They just need your bank account numbers to deposit the check. Don’t be fooled. The government doesn’t call people to give money away.

Employment: Some job offers for supposedly foreign employment opportunities ask for an advance fee to cover visa and travel costs. They may ask for your social security number, credit card numbers and bank account numbers. Legitimate companies will absorb the costs of hiring you and would never ask for your credit card numbers or bank account numbers. There is an employment scam that asks you to be an agent for the bogus company. They ask you to cash checks and money orders for clients through your own bank account and you will be paid a percentage for doing so. The checks and money orders are bogus and you may end up paying thousands of dollars back to your bank.

Lottery/sweepstakes: You receive a letter in the mail saying you have won thousands of dollars in a lottery or sweepstakes. They send you a check to cover taxes or some other bogus fee. You deposit the check in your bank account and then wire the required fee, probably to Canada. Your bank contacts you days later to alert you that the check is fraudulent and you now have to pay the bank back.

Fake check scams: Fake check scams often originate through email. Whatever the set-up, the bottom line is if someone you don’t know sends you a check but wants you to wire money back, it’s a scam. Be skeptical. There is no legitimate reason for you to wire money back to someone who has paid with a check.

Grandparent scam: An increasingly common scam involves a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild. The scammer will claim that there has been a mishap and money is needed immediately. Never wire money or give out bank info based on a telephone call.

Medicare scam: A senior citizen receives phone calls claiming to be from Medicare or from the ‘health office’. The callers ask for the senior by name and appear to be offering seniors some sort of supplemental health insurance or prescription coverage. Never give any personal information to anyone over the phone. Consumers with questions about Medicare can get more information from the Medicare offices at 1-800-MEDICARE.


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