Your phone rings and caller ID says "Internal Revenue Service". When you answer, the person on the other end asks for you by name. They sound convincing, identifying themselves with badge numbers and special agent titles. They may even leave an urgent voice mail and callback request. They inform you that you owe taxes that are past due and must be collected immediately to avoid further fines and arrest. They may go another route and advise you about a refund you have coming, but they need your bank information to get it to you. This is a fraudster trying to steal from you, not the IRS. So how can you tell?
These are five things that the IRS will never do, but the scammers will.
If you are not sure if you are receiving a legitimate call, hang up and do not give out your personal information. Reach out to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to speak to an official IRS representative.
Disaster Fraud: Criminals Capitalizing on Catastrophes
When natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes strike, these are times when there are people in need. Sad to say but this is also when fraudsters jump into action. Disaster fraud schemes have stolen millions of dollars from well-meaning people trying to help. Carefully question unknown solicitations for charitable donations. If in doubt, it is better to wait and do some research then to send money that will never get to the organizations that are helping those in need. Some good resources are checkthecharity.com and the Better Business Bureau charity reporting site at give.org. If you think you have been a victim of disaster relief fraud, reach out to the United States Department of Justice via their disaster fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5720.
Microsoft Tech Support calling you? Probably not... Beware of a scam where fraudsters reach out and claim to be from Microsoft Tech Support or a "Certified Windows Partner". They may leave an automated voice mail asking you to call back about an "expired license key" or "malware problem". They may call you and ask for you by name to talk about your license or system security issue. They may even have a legitimate looking caller ID that says "Microsoft" or "Comcast", but caller ID is often and easily faked and is not a guarantee of legitimacy.
Click on the speaker icon to listen to an actual scam.
(It will open in a separate browser window)
If you get a phone call you think matches this profile, just say "no thanks" and hang up. If you are not sure, you can get a call back number from them and then reach out to the Help Desk and we can help find out if it is legitimate or not. Never give a caller your credit card number or allow them to install software on your PC (or let them have you do it for them).