Unfortunately, scams continue to be on the rise and there are no red flashing lights that precede a scam – but if you pay attention, there are clues that you are seeing a scam.
To help recognize scams, the IRS puts out a Dirty Dozen Scam Alert each year. Following are some highlights from their 2021 Dirty Dozen.
- Telephone calls, text messages or emails are used by identity thieves to convince the person that they need to provide Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information or passwords. Often, criminals pose as someone the person knows. NEVER, EVER give personal information over the phone.
- Phishing scams can be tricky and cleverly disguised to look like they are coming from the IRS or someone the person knows. They may promise a big refund, a missing stimulus payment or even a tax threat. NEVER click on or open attachments or links in these emails.
- Always look at the complete address. We received an email from Kat Meissner; but the email address was firstname.lastname@example.org – clearly not me!
- If you receive a phone call out of the blue, security experts recommend asking questions of the caller such as, who is your supervisor, what office are you located out of, what is your ID#; but do not give them any information. We recommend you simply hang up – immediately!
- Social media scams are also on the rise as the cons may send emails, messages, etc. impersonating the victim’s family, friends and co-workers.
- ALL OF YOUR INFORMATION that is on social media platforms can be collected and used against you! One way to prevent these scams is to review your privacy settings often and limit what is publicly shared.
- If you do click on something and strange things start to show up on your computer screen, take a picture of the screen with your phone and unplug the computer immediately. Do not turn it back on until you’ve taken it to an IT person to scan and remove any viruses.