12/23/2015 - Top Scams of 2015
The top scams of 2015 nearly mirrors 2014’s list, so chances are, these scams are not going away. As we close out the year, protect yourself and your hard-earned money from these top scams:
- IRS Imposters. This remains the nation’s biggest scam: Phone calls from fraudsters posing as IRS agents who threaten arrest, deportation or seizure of property or businesses unless immediate payment is made for alleged back taxes. Recently, bogus mailing and faxes have been added. Remember, the real IRS doesn’t call out-of-the-blue nor demand immediate payment, especially by prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
- Tech Support Scam. These imposters, claiming to be from Microsoft and other tech companies and lying about a supposed computer virus, also claim the most AARP members. By year’s end, some 3.3 million Americans will have paid an estimated $1.5 billion to these fraudsters for bogus “tech support” and, in the process, will have given these scammers remote access to their computer files and passwords for possible identity theft.
- Foreign Lotteries. What to know: You can’t win some far-away lottery you didn’t enter. Remember that “You win!” phone calls, letters, or emails are scams. If you ever win a legitimate lottery, you never have to pay taxes, processing fees or anything else upfront to collect. And that received “partial payment” check is counterfeit; in fact, you’re on the hook for funds drawn from its deposit.
- Sweepstakes. Different type of contest, but same instructions…and outcome: You’re told you need to pay in order to collect your prize be it cash or merchandise. But the bounty never comes. The reigning (and classic) ruse aims for upfront taxes and fees under the guise of winning Publishers Clearing House.
- Grandparents Scam. What ignites more fear and sense of urgency than a desperate call from a loved one in trouble? But it’s not grandchildren or other relatives calling; it’s scammers who glean names and family details online or simply let you fill in holes with generic greetings (“Hi, it’s your favorite grandchild and I need help!”).