The first two scams are pretty similar—the IRS scam and the power company scam.
“The IRS scam, they’re threatening not only to come arrest you, they’re threatening to seize property, assets, freeze your visas,” says Sgt. Joe Mahoney with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
They pose as IRS agents and say you haven’t paid your taxes and now you’re in trouble. Same with the power company scam—they pose as Alabama Power telling people they’re late on their bill and the power will soon be cut.
“Most recently we’ve seen this scam hit a lot of our small business customers, but this could happen for our residential customers or for anyone,” says Beth Thomas with Alabama Power.
Both of these popular scams are similar in that the scammer is trying to scare you.
“Because both instances they create such a sense of urgency with the victim, the person doesn’t really have time to even think about it. You have a heightened emotional state and you don’t think. So that is something to think about, is if you do receive a call like that and they’re trying to get you riled up and they’re trying to create a sense of urgency, think about it, stop, breathe and assume it’s a scam,” says Mahoney.
Now we just told you about two scams that threatened to take something away from you, but there are a lot of scams out there that promise to give you things. Here are the two most prevalent ones we found along the gulf coast.
The Publisher’s Clearing House scam. These scammers call to tell you they’re on the way to your house, but first you have to put money on a Green Dot card for taxes.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says Mahoney.
And the Facebook scam works a similar way. Scammers make a fake profile using pictures of someone you already know. They get you to accept their friend request and then they tell you to apply for a federal grant worth thousands. All you have to do is pay a fee, which keeps going up.
“There are tons of federal grants available, but no grant requires you to pay money. It’s a scam. If you legitimately win something, you’re not going to have to pay to receive a prize,” says Mahoney.
And of course, a similar thread running through all these scams is they tell you to put money on a prepaid debit card or a green dot card. That should tell you right away it’s a scam.