It’s tax time, and the “IRS Tax Scam” is out and about. Actually, this scam operates all year long, and it involves you receiving a recorded (usually) telephone message that “this is your second and last warning” that you owe the IRS money for back taxes and late fees, which you must pay off immediately or you will lose your home or go to jail.
Another IRS tax scam is a friendly phone call “just to verify information” on your tax return. The scammers want Social Security and/or credit card information.
If you really do have a problem with the IRS, it will not make initial contact with you by phone or email. It’ll send you letters, and things will progress in the usual bureaucratic way — meetings, audits, etc. The IRS doesn’t just suddenly demand that you send it money, nor will it demand a particular method of payment. The government is fully aware of these scams and will take every precaution to make sure you know you’re really dealing with the IRS. (Visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/Individuals/Taxes-Security-Together.)
Here’s another classic scam called “the Nigerian Scam,” which has unlimited variations. I received this email, exactly as written, this past Monday morning:
“Greeting From Godfrey’s Family.
“I am sending you this private email to make a passionate appeal to you for assistance. Kindly accept my apology for contacting you this way and forgive me if this is not acceptable to you. I am introducing myself as Ms. Lillian Godfrey (23 Years Old), the only child of late Mr and Mrs Jack Godfrey. I wish to request for your assistance in a financial transaction and I also wish to invest in Manufacturing and Agricultural production in your country
“I have US$ 15.200 million to invest in your country which my late father deposited in London UK. I will require your assistance in receiving the funds in your personal/company account for investment and also to enable me continue my education in your country i will give you more details.
“I look forward for your response for more details.
Ms. Lillian Godfrey.”
Lastly, here’s one I call the “Loved-One-Needs-Bail-Money Scam.” My son’s grandparents were bitten by this one. They got a telephone call from someone purporting to be a lawyer in Mexico. He said their grandson (my son) had been arrested on what the lawyer believed was a trumped-up drug charge. He could get him out of it, but it required $3,500 in bail money and fees, which he needed right away.
The lawyer said their grandson begged that they not contact his parents because he wasn’t supposed to be in Mexico and they would be very angry. They sent the money — without first contacting me, of course.
Actually, there is no “Scam Season.” You and your family are year-long prey for scammers, and variety of scams is unlimited. Be careful out there.