Scammers work hard to trick unsuspecting people into giving up personal information or money, and knowing how to recognize a phone scam can ensure you aren’t losing your money or risking your finances or credit. Here are three current scams to watch out for.
1. IRS Money Owed or Audit Threatened
Nothing quite puts fear in an honest taxpayer’s heart like the threat of an audit or a warning that additional money is owed to the IRS. For most Americans, there’s no reason to fear the IRS, but an official sounding voice on the other end of the phone can convince you otherwise.
Know this: if the IRS finds an issue with your taxes, you’ll receive official correspondence through the mail, you’ll be given adequate time to respond and an agent will not randomly call you with threats of losing everything if you don’t make an immediate payment or disclose financial or personal information. If anyone purporting to be from the government calls you and demands money, asks for your social security number or requests banking information, hang up immediately.
2. Your Computer Has Viruses
Computer viruses are a well-known actual threat, but most systems come with built-in software to catch and remove them. Scammers like to prey on people who aren’t overly familiar with computers by convincing them they’ve been alerted to a virus on their system. Then, they promise that, with an immediate payment, the virus can be eliminated. These scammers might try to sell you bogus virus software, ask for your online login information or sign you up for future monitoring services.
Know this: legitimate antivirus companies may email your on-record email address if you already have their software downloaded and need to re-up their service or may advertise to you online. It would be rare to receive a direct phone call because of a virus already on your computer or trying to sell you antivirus software. Never give anyone your online passwords and be sure to ask people who have phoned you regarding virus issues to follow up by email to give you time to research and determine whether a true threat or need exists. You can also verify company credentials through your computer manufacturer, current antivirus software company or internet provider.
3. Scam Charities
Older Americans tend to give more money to charities than their younger counterparts, and scammers know and prey on this trait. Charity giving scams can be some of the hardest to ferret out because many legitimate charities also make frequent phone calls to both known and new donors to request donations.
Know this: no legitimate charity is so desperate for money that you have to donate immediately during a phone call. Protect yourself against scams like this by verifying the charity’s name, and take time to research whether the number on your caller ID is related to a legitimate charity. Scammers can fake the name that shows up on your ID. If this is a legitimate charity you wish to donate to, call them back at a number you’ve verified, send a check to their verified address or donate securely only through their verified website.
Many other types of scams are also being perpetrated currently. The government set up a website you can visit to learn more and best protect yourself, and you can always reach out to the assisted living community staff if you believe you’re being targeted by a scam.