March is a busy time of year for you...and those after your money.
5 Characteristics of Most Scams:
March is a busy month. The market is usually active, taxes are due in April, and people are busy making financial decisions. Avoiding scams is easy if you understand the game. Here are the most common ways that scammers play you for a fool. Learn to identify them, and you will save yourself major financial heartache.
"Avoiding scams is easy if you know the game."
1. Look for the "Urgency Act":
It's a common trick that fraudsters play. The act is simple...pay now or else something bad will happen. They offer to settle the debt you "owe" quickly via phone or email. If you receive this type of contact, remember that the IRS, Social Security, or Medicare never ask you for payment right away. You are always allowed to contest the debt owed, and usually have time to contest or appeal it. Quick payment is never even on offer.
2. They Contact Via Phone/Email:
I'm sure you've had these before.....a phone or email from an "agent" of the IRS or local law enforcement. You may not fall for it, but tens of thousands of people nationwide (usually the elderly) fall for them. Note: The IRS will NEVER call you as official contact for a debt owed. Social Security? Medicare? Same thing. Official government notification is given through written word and letter only - never a phone call or email.
3. They Ask for SSN Numbers:
Legitimate businesses rarely ask for social security numbers. If they do, they are trained to ask only for the last 4 digits - and this is if YOU call THEM. If someone calls you claiming to be from the IRS, Medicare, or SS and asks for a social - it's a scam.
4. They Claim to be From a Bank:
In today's security environment, banks NEVER email you for information or a return communication. If you have received a communication from a "bank" that contains a hyperlink or a link at all - it's a scam. If you receive an email asking you to login from the email itself, it's also a scam. Go to a new browser window and login from there.
5. They "Need to Confirm" Something:
This one is becoming more common as people switch to tax software and away from human tax consultants. A fraudster will call and need to "confirm" your tax return. Tax prep companies will not do this - it's a scam. The fraudster will then file as if they are you especially if they detect that you have a refund coming!! If someone calls needing to "confirm" something - don't say a word and hang up.
It's easy to be scammed. The elderly and young workers are especially susceptible due to lack of sophistication, loneliness (a big factor with the elderly), and the urge to make things "go away" quickly and without thought. Just remember that if you really need to speak to someone regarding your finances it's easy to pick up the phone and call a real representative and ask if there is anything wrong with your account(s). You are under NO obligation to settle any government debt immediately and you have rights to analyze the claim.