According to AARP's Fraud Watch Network, scam artists have been out in full force in 2016 using the "tried and true scams" to bilk billions of dollars from unsuspecting victims. The best defense is to be aware of the scams that are out there and refrain from falling into their traps, which often look mighty tempting or scare you into responding. The following are just some of those scams to watch out for in 2017.
Tech Support Scam: You get a call from a well-known tech company saying your computer has a virus that can be fixed for a fee. Don't pull out your credit card. Simply hang up. Major tech companies don't make tech support calls.
IRS Imposter Scam: An official-looking letter from the IRS informs you of taxes you owe related to the Affordable Care Act. The letter instructs you to write a check payable to "IRS" and send it to an address in Austin, TX. The red flag is how the letter instructs you to write out the check. It would be to the U.S. Treasury if the letter were real.
Sweepstakes Scam: You get a personalized letter that says you've won a million dollar prize, but you need to pay a fee or a tax in advance to receive the funds. Legitimate sweepstakes will never require upfront payments.
Grandparent Scam: You get a frantic call in the middle of the night from someone claiming to be your grandchild. He says he's in a bind and needs money right away. He asks you to send money by wire transfer, which is the payment of choice for scam artists. This scam has been around a long time, but it works all too often. I know people who have been fooled by it — and paid the price.
Fake Charity Scams: A scammer impersonating a real charity contacts you to ask for a donation. This happens a lot around the holidays and following natural disasters. And sometimes they use a name that sounds a lot like a real charity, but it's not.
Before you fall for these or any other scams, you might want to check the "good charities" and the "bad charities" by clicking on "Money" at the top of CMC Digest's home page and then go to the article titled "Check on Charities Before You Donate." It lists the good and bad ones and those in between.
Have a happy and safe New Year.
Beau Weisman, Editor