Think Twice if You Get a Call From the IRS or the ‘Prize Patrol’

Photo (cc) by exfordy

As if consumers don’t already have enough scams to worry about, the Federal Trade Commission says impostor scams are on the rise.

Scams cost Americans big bucks. The FTC said that in 2014 consumers lost $1.7 billion to fraud. Impostor scams are one of the crimes highlighted in the 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book report.

According to the FTC:

Impostor scams play on your emotions. The scammers work hard to make you believe that you’ve won something or you have an unexpected problem. They say that, for a small fee, they’ll send you lots of money or make your troubles disappear. They might encourage you to pay them with a reloadable card or they may ask for your personal information.

Here are the FTC’s top 10 impostor scams:

  1. “Tax man.” Scammers impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents are on the rise. In fact, they’re the No. 1 impostor scam in the Consumer Sentinel. These fake tax agents try to trick people into thinking they owe back taxes or there’s a problem with their tax return. Take note: The real IRS will send you a letter in the mail. The IRS will not contact you by phone or email.
  2. You’ve won! Or have you? If you’re asked to send money in order to collect on a so-called prize, don’t do it. Hang up the phone. You’re being scammed.
  3. Computer “fix.” Some scammers will try to convince you that you have computer issues that need to be fixed. Don’t fall for it. If you truly have technical issues, call a reputable repair person.
  4. “Technical support” calling. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be with Microsoft Technical Support, hang up. Here’s how it works: The caller says, “I’m looking at your computer and there’s dangerous software popping up,” the FTC explained. “In reality – and you have my “Word” on this – ­ it’s a scam. Put down the phone or refuse to click the pop-up,” FTC said.
  5. Money move. If someone calls claiming to be an FBI agent who is helping someone from the United Kingdom or elsewhere move their money into the United States, and needs your help, hang up. It’s a scam.
  6. Computer info thieves. Beware of email links. If you click on a link that looks like it’s from a legit company, you could be in trouble. If you don’t pay the money the hackers are asking for, they threaten to delete personal computer files. Avoid the headache by backing up your files often. That way, you win and the scammer loses.
  7. You’ve won a grant: If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with a federal agency and they say you won a “government grant for thousands of dollars,” don’t be tempted to send in the hundreds of dollars in taxes and fees they require from you first.
  8. Bogus health official: This scam involves someone pretending to work with Medicare or the Affordable Care Act. Do not give them your personal information.
  9. Deportation threat. Fake Homeland Security officers sometimes try to convince immigrants that they will be deported unless they give up money or information.
  10. “Mom” calling. Even the Caller ID can be misused. Sometimes scammers change the Caller ID to read “mom” or another common moniker so try to get you to pick up.

Check out other top consumer-related scams.

Have you ever been the victim of a scam? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon
9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon

You don’t have to be a Prime member to take advantage of these little-known perks of shopping on Amazon.

21 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On
21 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On

With some items, it makes sense to pay a little more rather than hopping on the lowest price.

8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths
8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths

Think you’re ready to buy a house? Don’t fall victim to these rookie mistakes.

This Chase Card Is Great for Groceries and Cash Back on Everything
This Chase Card Is Great for Groceries and Cash Back on Everything

You could earn more than $600 cash back in your first year just from grocery shopping.

What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?
What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?

The best battery depends on what you need it for and how big your budget is. Here’s how to find the cheapest brand that will do the job you need.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year — and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year — and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.