The Con Artists Are Back.
It is that time of year again taxes are done and we look forward to summer. Also at this time of year some industrious weasels begin to call people in the hope of convincing them that they are the real IRS and that they need to send money, somewhere, right now, in order to prevent arrest, property seizure and a whole host of other nasty stuff. In addition to these industrious crooks are the ones claiming to be able to see viruses on your computer and they can fix it but you need to give them your credit card number and access to your computer. Or that some other bill is due and your water/electricity/cable will be shut off or car repossessed; the list goes on.
DO NOT DO IT!
The tax man and most utilities will send you a letter stating your bill is overdue prior to shut off and rarely will you get a phone call. Well, not unless it is a collection agency. But the latter can be called back independently and verified. My darling gray haired mother has a way to deal with these calls. The call gets accidently disconnected when she hangs up the phone. Caller ID and an answering machine are good ways to filter out the junk calls while only responding to the legitimate calls you want.
A good starting point is to be aware of your financial state. A second is to know what different agencies will do when problems occur. Third, do not let an aggressive caller scare you into sending them money. Any government agency or utility will not ask for payment in pre-paid credit cards, money cards or Western Union transfers. Legitimate businesses or government entities will wait for you to send them a check and are willing to wait while they are verified. While my darling gray haired mother still has a sound mind and a paranoid son, some of our elderly and our inexperienced juniors need to be reminded, repeatedly, to not send funds but to say, “Let me check with my son/ daughter/ spouse/ parent/ accountant/ etc.” and hang up.
Some good to know facts: once a prepaid card number or Western Union transfer is sent, chances are that the funds are withdrawn within the hour. And with Western Union, a secret password is associated with the money wire. This password can be used to validate the transfer and withdraw the funds at any Western Union office not just the one you think the wire is going to. So you may think it is Atlanta, Georgia but it is really the Georgia just south of Russia. And once off shore, these funds are gone and not coming back.
If you get a call like this, remember “Don’t Panic!” No one is sending the authorities right over to arrest you. These scammers are in it for money, if you keep hanging up on them, they will go in search of someone else.