Vermont AG: IRS scam tops list of top ten scams for 2016

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Vermont AG: IRS scam tops list of top ten scams for 2016

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 9:53am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont has compiled and illustrated the most prevalent phone scams against Vermonters last year, from data provided by the Vermont Attorney General. Protect yourself and your loved ones, friends and neighbors from scams! Here is the list of the Top 10 Scams of 2016, as reported to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office Consumer Assistance Program.  

See Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan's warning HERE.

  1. IRS Debt Collection:  A scam telephone call saying you owe “back taxes” or outstanding payments due to the government, typically from callers claiming to be “Internal Revenue Service”, “IRS”, and “US Treasury and Legal Affairs.”  Don’t respond to these callers.  If you think you may actually owe back taxes, hang up and contact the IRS directly at 1 (800) 829-1040.

  2. Computer Tech Support:  Caller or pop-up message on computer which claims to be from Microsoft/Windows or other tech company claiming there is a virus or other serious problem with your computer.  They will try to persuade you to give remote access to your computer.  Never allow remote access to your computer or click links in a strange e-mail or pop-up message!  Turn off your computer!  Do not pay an unknown entity!

  3. Phishing: Attempts to collect personal and sensitive information, which is typically used to steal someone’s identity.  In the most common phishing scams, the perpetrator claims to be calling from a person’s bank and requires account information to re-activate their account.   Never give account information to unknown callers!  Don’t respond to emails that request this information!

  4. Debt Collection:  Calls from fake debt collectors making threats, including lawsuit, wage garnishment, and arrest.  Most attempt to collect nonexistent debts and even make claims that utilities will be disconnected if payment is not made immediately. Never pay a harassing collector over the phone; demand proof of the debt in writing and verify the debt with the original creditor!  If you are concerned about possible disconnection, hang up and contact the vendor directly!

  5. Business-Targeted Scams:  Vermont businesses were also on the receiving end of scams, including utility disconnection threats, unsolicited/fake invoices, fake orders of goods or services, imposters of business personnel, and IRS debt collection scams.  The imposter of business personnel scam was particularly concerning as the businesses are contacted by someone that claims to be their CEO, or other internal business representative, which can be easily fabricated.  Once connected, the imposter CEO or other employee requests a large bank wire transfer, which is typically irretrievable. It is important that businesses establish internal processes to ensure payments are being sent to valid sources!

  6. Unclaimed Funds- Grants, Rebates and Settlements: Calls, mailings and e-mail messages claiming that you are eligible for a government grant, and unclaimed rebate or settlement, or other unclaimed funds. No legitimate grant will require you to pay a fee for processing, and you can find out if there are unclaimed funds in your name by contacting the Vermont Treasurer's Office.

  7. Phony Prizes, Lotteries and Sweepstakes  Claims that recipient will obtain funds if they pay an upfront fee, typically for registration or taxes.  These scams usually start with a phone call or mailing, claiming that you won money or a prize, but have to make a payment in order to receive it.  Sometimes realistic-looking fake checks are used to entice the victims and claim to cover a portion of the fees.  The check bounces and no “winnings” are ever dispersed.  Never pay upfront to receive winnings!  If you won something, they should pay you, not the other way around!

  8. Medical Products and Supplies, Insurance and Prescription Scams:  Callers claim to be with Medicare or Medicaid, seeking personal information or claiming they are the authorized provider of medical supplies, prescriptions or other services. Verify any such call with your insurance provider separately, or with your physician. Never give out your personal information to a caller!

  9. "Grandparent Scam" and Other Impostors:  Scammers claiming to be a grandchild, friend/relative or romantic interest contact consumer, reportedly in distress and needing money to be wired or transmitted with a reloadable card, gift card (like iTunes), PayPal account payment, cash or check/money order.  Never wire or otherwise send funds unless you can verify the emergency!

  10. Craigslist/Online Listings:  These on-line scams involve fake rental listings and requests to cash a fake check and send money to a shipper/agent in order to complete an online transaction. Be cautions when dealing online.  Never give out personal information before seeing a rental listing in person.  Be suspicious when someone wants to pay you more for something than what it is worth; make arrangements to pay in cash and in person whenever possible! 

Trends in Scams

Total Scam Reports Chart

IRS Scam Reports chart

Other Scam Trends chart

Source: UVM. Vermont AG.