Unsolicited calls totaled 29 billion in 2016
The IRS scam
The voice on the other end of the line claims to be an IRS criminal investigator. Arrest is imminent if you don’t immediately pay thousands of dollars in back taxes. Individuals are instructed to put $500 on multiple iTunes gift cards and give up the 16-digit codes. Don’t be fooled. The IRS would never ask a taxpayer to buy iTunes cards for any reason.
Internet scam artists create little boxes that pop up on your computer screen, telling you that you have a virus and need to call for technical support. Don’t believe it. Computer companies never notify customers of a problem through pop-ups, unless it is from virus-protection software that you installed.
The Fake Sheriff
You get a call from someone posing as a sheriff’s deputy claiming you’ve missed jury duty and owe the county a $1,000 fine. Pay immediately, the caller says, or you will go to jail. Rest assured, no sheriff or court will call you and demand payment like this for missing jury duty. If you get this call, hang up, then call the police and report it.
A con artist calls and tells you that you have won the Australian (or Jamaican) lottery. All you have to do to collect is wire $1,500. Don’t do it. Lotteries never call to give money to people who haven’t even bought a ticket.
Credit Card Con
You get a call from your bank that there is a problem with your account. To straighten it out they need your account number, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. Hang up. This is a scam to get information to hack your account.
1. Do some research. Google the salesperson and company before you buy. Explore their reputations thoroughly. If you can’t locate solid information, walk away.
2. Don’t react out of fear. No matter how threatening or urgent their script, do not act immediately. Always hang up and give yourself time to think it over and check them out.
3. Trust your instincts. If a caller sounds fishy, hang up. The chances of losing out on a great deal are much less than losing your nest egg.