Many of us make New Year’s resolutions about diet and exercise, accomplishing goals, and making connections in our personal lives. Not many of us think about avoiding becoming the victim of a scam in the new year, but with recently released information from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you can resolve to protect yourself from the most common scams.
Tax Scams Top the List
While many of these scams are recognized as fraud before any money is actually stolen, there was still a loss of over $1 million by those who reported the scam to the BBB. The ten most common scams in 2015 were the following:
- Tax Scams. In this scam, accounting for nearly 25 percent of all scams reported to the BBB, an imposter calls your home pretending to be from the IRS and claims that you owe back taxes and will face legal consequences if you don’t pay immediately.
- Debt Collection Scams. Again, an imposter calls claiming you have unpaid debt and threatens garnishments, jail time, and lawsuits if you don’t provide payment information over the phone.
- Sweepstakes/Prize Scams. If you are contacted by phone or email with the offer of a prize in exchange for a fee to cover expenses, it is a scam. No legitimate sweepstakes would require payment.
- Tech Support Scams. You are contacted by a phony IT expert claiming to have detected a virus and asking for personal information such as passwords to sensitive accounts or payment of a fee to correct it.
- Government Grant Scams. In exchange for a government cash grant, you are asked to wire a fee to cover administrative expenses. The government does not award grants randomly and would not require a fee in exchange.
- Advance Fee Loan Scams. When seeking loan information online, be careful of clicking on links for companies you are not familiar with. You could end up being contacted by someone claiming to have approved your loan and requiring a processing fee.
- Credit Card Scams. A scammer pretends to be from your bank offering you a lower interest rate or some other special, but asks for your credit card number and security code to verify your identity. No credit card issuer would ever contact you and then ask for personal information.
- Work From Home Scams. Any to-good-to-be-true offer to earn money from home as an appointment setter, envelope stuffer, or advertising agent is mostly likely just that. If you are asked to pay an application fee or a service fee to get started, it is definitely a scam.
- Fake Check/Money Order Scams. Anyone offering to pay you more money than you are owed by check or money order (with the request that you wire them the difference) is running a scam. The check will bounce and your money is already gone.
- Lottery Scams. Lotteries that require you to pay taxes or fees up front before collecting your winnings are illegal and fraudulent.
We Look Out for You
Very often, when you are the victim of one of these scams, there is not much that can be done legally to get your money back. At The Consumer Law Group, we believe that forewarned is forearmed, so we are providing you with this helpful information to get your New Year off to a great, scam-free year.