Unfortunately, this reality is becoming more common. This can be frustrating as it involves more of your time to protect yourself from occurrences that should never happen in the first place. Many assume they will not be a victim of this type of illegal behavior, but this is not realistic. In the past month, I have heard of four people who have, in one way or another, been approached by these scams, including myself.
To better understand how to deal with these scams one must first be able to identify them. Let’s take a look at some of the common scams that are currently affecting everyday life starting with the ones I have seen personally this past month.
• A faulty attorney letter demands payment for a familiar bill. In this particular situation, scam artists have been able to gather enough of an individual’s information regarding a bill they are familiar with, either paid or unpaid. They send out a letter from a “fake” attorney firm demanding payment within 30 days of the bill or legal action would be taken. The claimant may have the creditor’s name, amount of bill, time of service and even the account number associated with the bill. When the consumer calls to follow up, they will be met with a legitimate-sounding recording followed by a live representative of the “fake” law firm. Be prepared. They do not hold back in threatening seizure of assets, court and even jail time. What can you do?
First, call the creditor personally and ask them if they did turn the bill over to the law office. They will be able to tell you this information if it is legitimate. In some cases, the consumer may have previously paid the bill, but this does not stop the faulty firms from pursuing a payment.
Second, do not give any verification to the firm to identify yourself. This includes the last four digits of your Social Security number, until you have called and talked personally with the creditor to whom the money may be owed. Often, the scammer will try and get more information about you to which they did not originally have access.
• A fake IRS call that demands immediate payment on an overdue tax liability. This scam can often be intimidating for many people. Scammers are well aware consumers fear the IRS and use this to their advantage when putting their scam in action. They will often make a legitimate-sounding call, telling the consumer that a specific amount of tax liability is owed by the individual to avoid further action by the IRS. They may ask for minimal amounts up to large amounts, but either way when you don’t owe it, don’t quickly assume it’s better to pay a small amount than to chance it. This is definitely their hope and the reason they continue this scam with consumers. If they can get multiple small amounts from consumers, they will be well on their way to large amounts of money over a short period of time and thus the reason they keep scamming. IRS scammers will often use threats with consumers who question or deny the actual existence of tax liability owed. These scammers will then beef up their demands with threats of seizing assets, and they may even have some information as to what assets you own, so don’t let this intimidate you. If these threats do not move you to payment, they will make you aware the police have been notified and will be arriving within a specified amount of time to arrest you until the faulty debt is paid. What can consumers do to determine if the claim is factual or fake?
First, remember the IRS always contacts you by mail before calling you on the phone.
Second, ask a caller to provide their name and badge number, and callback number. Then call TIGTA at 800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you.
Third, be aware that the IRS never threatens to arrest you for not paying a tax liability.
Fourth, do not trust the name on the caller ID. Scammers can easily change the name on a caller ID to make consumers believe they are legitimate.
These tips will help you avoid two of the scams that are currently taking aim against consumers.
Ann Haney is a mother to six entrepreneurial-minded children, ordained minister, CEO of Aaron Publishing, founder of Ann Haney Ministries and Living In Abundance, nationwide motivational speaker, coupon specialist, empowerment coach and bestselling author of 20 published products, including her books, “Judgment Overruled,” “Exploding Into Successful Entrepreneurship,” “Single Steps In A Married World” and “Changing Your Life Through Couponing Financial Empowerment Series.” Contact Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a speaking engagement, individual coaching or view her website for more information at annhaney.com.