(CONSUMER REPORTS) – Criminals are finding all sorts of ways to steal your money, for instance posing on the phone as debt collectors or pretending to protect you from credit card fraud. Before you fork over money or information make sure the call is legitimate. Consumer Reports tells how to avoid being duped.
Ross Frommer got a voicemail message, allegedly from the IRS, implying he had a serious tax debt and was under threat of arrest. He got suspicious and reported the incident on the IRS’s website.
“There are all sorts of scams out there,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate. I’ve never been the victim of one.”
It’s not only phony IRS agents who could be trying to scam you, according to Margot Gilman from Consumer Reports. Criminals also impersonate fraud investigators from credit card companies and often have enough information, like your card number that will trick you into trusting them.
“The imposters may say they’re investigating a fraudulent transaction and ask you to confirm you have the card in your possession by reading to them your security code. Big mistake,” she says.
That gives the imposters all the information they need to make purchases with your card.
Some flagrant signs of fraud:
A demand that you wire funds or load money onto a prepaid card and send it immediately.
A demand that you give or confirm confidential financial information, such as your credit or debit card numbers or Social Security number.
In the case of the IRS — the phone call itself is a red flag. The IRS never calls taxpayers cold demanding immediate payment
“You can also find out if a caller is legitimate by asking for their professional license number, their business name, phone and address. If they don’t answer, the call is almost certainly a scam,” says Gilman.
Another surefire test to make sure you don’t fall for a phone scam: Demand that a validation notice be mailed to you verifying the amount of the debt and the creditor.
Consumer Reports also recommends calling the creditor to confirm the debt collector is legitimate.