Tax season is upon us and, as sure as April showers bring May flowers, April also brings an influx of scams as tax returns begin. These are especially targeted toward the elderly. Scammers will try to take your money and/or personal information and they’re very good at their craft.
Here are some common scams and things to remember if you experience one of them.
You are asked to cash a check and forward funds in the form of personal check, cash, green dot card, gift cards (any form of negotiable item) in order to receive your hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of lottery winnings.
Fees or taxes are taken off any legitimate winnings; you will neither be asked to cash a check nor forward money. These scams have several different addresses, company and personal names, and phone numbers throughout the correspondence.
It is very hard to resist what looks like a legitimate check right in your hand. The victim is then responsible to pay (the bank) back money once the check is found to be non-negotiable. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is a scam.
You owe a government entity (Veterans Administration, IRS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) money and receive a threat of immediate incarceration should you not send money or divulge personal information.
Government entities will not ask for your private information or threaten you. If you have a question, call the agency directly to report the scam.
Your credit card and/or bank account has shown fraudulent activity and you must divulge your account number and/or name, date of birth and Social Security number in order for the company to look into it.
If you get a message about abnormal purchases or fraud activity alerts on your account, contact your bank directly. You will only be asked about specific purchase attempts. You will not be asked to give any personal information or bank account information. Remember, your bank already knows those things.
A loved one is incarcerated abroad and you must send significant money or negotiable items to “bail them out.”
This is fairly uncommon, but if you’re in doubt about a loved one, call your family. Do not send money or information.
You’re told you have previously pledged money to fundraiser, usually emergency response such as police and fire, but they’ve not received it; could you please forward it again.
I, myself, receive many of these “cold calls” for money. The caller says you have already pledged money by phone that was not received. Stand your ground. Do not pledge money. These scams are not affiliated with your local police, fire or emergency medical service groups. Never pledge money to these callers over the phone.
Keep yourselves and your finances safe. Happy spring.
Chief Laurie J. Kelly of the Presque Isle Police Department can be reached at 764-2535 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.