You won’t currently read about Bonnie and Clyde robbing banks with Tommy Guns, though we have had 3 bank Robberies this month in Palm Desert. Today’s thefts are less confrontational as thieves do not need guns. Instead they scam us with cons. The CV is the perfect place for scams because of the unsuspecting elderly who make perfect victims.
The Desert Sun recently stated there are over 500,000 robocalls a month costing Americans $7.4 Billion. The 3 biggest robocalls are Google listing scams, Loan related scams and Fraudsters offering free vacations. As our parents taught us “if it sounds too good to be true…it is probably not true.”
The robocalls escalate when the phone is answered. The bad guys have call centers, often from out of the country, that make these calls all day long. They have spoofing software that makes it look like you are receiving the call from say the IRS or Riverside Sheriffs.
The caller may claim to be an enforcement officer acting on behalf of the IRS, the Palm Springs Police or Riverside County Sheriff. Sometimes the caller ID may even confirm the same. Note that the IRS does not call you, they send letters. If this happens to you, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or forward their emails to phishing@IRS.gov.
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling, and use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may also use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
In 2019 the latest scam is allegedly from “Tech Support”. With the advent of robocalls, scammers have sought to exploit the fear of these calls by convincing people that their computers are infected.
You may get a call with an ominous-sounding warning from an allegedly well-known tech company. They may say your computer has been hacked and your personal or financial info is vulnerable or that your computer has a virus. Once you return the call they will ask for remote access to your computers and proceed to show you all the problems on your system.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports California remains in the top 10 on the FTC’s list of states with the highest per-capita identity theft complaints. Tax-related identity theft is a top source of those complaints, according to the FTC.
The vulnerability of California residents to fraud, particularly identity theft, is exacerbated by the ongoing problem of data breaches. A caller may demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill, and con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. “Urgent” callback requests through phone “robocalls,” or via a phishing email are also common.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. The caller may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money, according to the IRS.
There are five things scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:
* call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill;
* demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe;
* require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card;
* ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or
* threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or Tech Support and asking for money, you should hang up immediately and report the call.
If you think you are the victim of an ID Theft then cancel your credit cards ASAP, place a fraud alert on them and call the police to make a report.
REPORT POTENTIAL ID THEFT to:
Equifax 1-800 525 6285; fraud alert 888 766 0008;
Experian (formerly TRW) 1-888 397 3742 to place fraud alert;
Trans Union 1-800 680 7289 for Fraud alert:
Social Security Administration (fraud line) 1-800 269 0271
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