Consumers lose billions of dollars every year to scams. A big one this year that saw the most traction was the IRS scam. People claiming they’re with the IRS saying you owe lots of money.
“They’re going to spoof your caller ID to make it look like they’re calling from Washington D.C. And they’re going to tell you that you’ve either filled out paperwork wrong or that you’ve not filed, or that you owe money and that they’re going to put liens on your house, they’re going to file a lawsuit,” says Detective Laura Soulier with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s a classic scare tactic cause they say if you hang up without paying, they’ll arrest you. You need to hang up, go to IRS.gov and call the real IRS if you have doubts.
Another popular scam: the jury duty scam.
“And they would say they were some bogus deputy with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department and that they had missed jury duty and that they now owe contempt of court fees, they owe jury replacement fees, just odd things,” says Soulier.
After tracing the call, they found the caller was an inmate who was incarcerated in Georgia.
“He was basically going through white pages in the 251 area code and he would go alphabetically,” says Soulier.
One woman in town paid him over $1400. We also saw this year a flurry of people getting calls from the fake Publisher’s Clearing House. Millions and a car promised to the victim but with a catch…
“What we need you to do is we need you to pay the taxes and the insurance and the fees on your winnings before we can send you your money.”
Scams have infiltrated every aspect of our lives. They no longer just come through the telephone or snail mail, they also come through your computer.
The most prevalent computer scam computer expert Kristina Barrett with the Computer Crew has seen is called Cryptolocker. It can come in scam emails telling you to click on links which then downloads malware on your device.
“This big screen that comes up on their homepage or if they try to get on the internet or open a document it says hey, you have no control over this. You need to call this number and pay this amount of money in order to have control of your computer and of your documents, your pictures,” says Barrett.
The only thing you can do is take your computer to an expert. And finally, experts warn against email hackers. Same deal—malware is downloaded onto your computer and invades your email and sends out emails to your friends pretending to be you.
“Telling people that they were actually stranded in another country, had no access to their money and couldn’t get home. Send money! And you know, you would actually have people fall for that,” says Barrett.
Experts say the thing to do is don’t click on suspicious links or ads, if you get a phone call or letter—take a breath, think, and talk to someone. Lots of times the scammers will tell you to hurry and send money because the longer you take to think about it, the more often you’ll realize you’re being scammed.