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Either the company does not exist or the scammer was just using the name of a reputable company without having any connection to it. The scammers may disable phone numbers given to the consumer as an attempt to disappear after the money has been collected. High-pressure sales tactics are also a warning sign. Many risky investments are solicited to consumers in high-pressure situations and consumers are encouraged to act fast before the opportunity is missed. Also keep in mind that the investment industry is highly regulated. Do not invest money with companies that are not registered with the U.

Do research before investing money and never sign any contracts or documents that include blank spaces. While this may add convenience to banking and other financial transactions, it could make your financial information vulnerable.

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A current scam includes criminals cloning accounts of your family and friends to steal photos and personal information, this move could put your financial information at risk. Pitch: The scammers will create a Facebook account to trick users into thinking the account is that of a friend or family member. The scammer will use Facebook Messenger to connect with you and once you accept their message, they will have access to your personal Facebook information like photos, personal details and potentially financial details.

Result: The scammers will gain any information that you have shared with Facebook, even information you posted or filtered from the public. If Facebook expands its business through partnerships with financial institutions and you use these added features for convenience, your financial information will also become vulnerable. Opening another entry point for criminals to access your data is a risky move.

A cloned account will look very similar to the user they are trying to impersonate, but will typically be different. A capitalization or spacing difference may be a good indicator that the account is fake. Do Not Accept the Message Request. If the account looks fake, do not accept the request to message. Review Information from Facebook. Read all detailed information before you engage in any sort of exchange.

It could save your identity and financial information. Confirm Identities Outside of Facebook. If you get a message through Facebook or the Messenger app from someone you know asking for funds or donations, contact the individual outside of Facebook before contributing. A simple phone call or text message can confirm the identity of your friend or relative.

Report and Block Fake Accounts Immediately. Let Facebook know that the account that is messaging you is impersonating someone you know and be sure to block that account. If you do fall victim to this latest scam, contact your financial institutions bank, credit union, credit card companies, etc. Equifax Credit Freeze. Experian Credit Freeze. TransUnion Credit Freeze. Phone Pitch: Your phone rings and the caller ID shows a number you do not know, but it could also be a number you are familiar with. Result: The scammers will use the recorded response to authorize fraudulent charges on a stolen credit card, phone bill or utility bill.

How to avoid this scam: Do not answer calls from unknown numbers. Let unknown calls go to your voicemail. The call appears to be from a familiar number, thanks to caller ID spoofing. This technology makes it easy for a scammer to disguise a phone number. You may also be offered a free weekend at a resort in exchange for sitting through a sales presentation. Result: If you paid the fee to claim the prize, you may never hear from the company again and never receive the free vacation. Beware of high pressure sales tactics and pitches that require immediate payment.

If the deal is good today, it will be good tomorrow. Remember, if it sounds too god to be true, it probably is. Tax-related scams were the most popular scams in The scammer may use a false name and IRS identification badge number. To add creditability, they may ask you to verify some personal information such as: your full name, date of birth, home address, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number, all of which can be found on the internet. You are told you have an outstanding debt to the IRS and if a payment is not received immediately you could be arrested or a lien placed on your property.

Typically, the scammer will instruct you to purchase a Green Dot prepaid debit card or wire the payment via Western Union or MoneyGram to settle the debt. The IRS does not use the phone, email, text message or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues involving bills or refunds. Target: All consumers, even those who are not legally required to file taxes such as seniors.

Result: The scammers are only trying to get a quick payout. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to recover any money you have wired or sent via a prepaid debit card. Many seniors are not required to file tax returns because they earned little or no income. Consult with a tax professional to determine if you are required to file. Each year consumers look forward to filing a tax return in hopes of receiving a refund that can be used to pay debt, or add to their savings or emergency fund. Identity thieves have the same goal but do so at the expense of consumers.

Result: The victim attempts to file their own, legitimate tax return and receives a letter from the IRS indicating that someone has already filed in their name. This decreases the amount of time an identity thief has to file a return in your name. Be informed.

Beware of tax preparation companies that claim to be able to get you your refund sooner than February 15; the company may actually be giving you a high-interest loan that will eat into your refund. Take advantage of free tax preparation from legitimate organizations.

File a form with the IRS. Consider placing a freeze on your credit report, which prevents any credit accounts from being opened in your name. For more information, visit www. The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to be alert for scammers posing as debt collectors. Sometimes it may be hard to tell the difference between a legitimate debt collector and a fake one.

Sometimes fake debt collectors may even have some of your personal information, such as a bank account number. Phone Pitch: Phony debt collectors may pose as attorneys or law enforcement officers demanding immediate payment on delinquent loans or on loans you have received but for amounts you do not owe. The scammer may threaten you with garnishments, lawsuits or jail if you do not pay.

These scammers will often us Caller ID spoofing. Result: Consumers are threatened with lawsuits or arrests if payments are not made immediately and may end up giving money or personal information out of fear. How to avoid this scam: Ask the scammer for their name, company, street address and telephone number. Tell the scammer that you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice. If a scammer refuses to give you all or any of this information, do not be afraid to hang up and do not pay!

Paying a fake debt collector will not always make them terminate contact. They may make up another debt to try to obtain more of your money. Never deposit a check into your bank account or give money to someone claiming to have won the lottery unless you ensure the funds are available.

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Also, scammers may contact you by phone or email claiming that you have won a prize or the lottery but you have to pay a fee before you can collect your winnings. Once you provide the ID number on the back of the Green Dot card or the verification number for Western Union or MoneyGram, the money is oftentimes gone and cannot be recovered.

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Result: The check provided by the scammer is fraudulent. Typically, it takes weeks for a financial institution to discover a fraudulent check and you are responsible for paying back the full amount of the check and associated fees. If you wire money to the scammer to claim your prize, you may never hear from them again, or they keep calling you and saying that the fees have increased and you need to wire more money. How to avoid this scam: If you won a legitimate lottery, all fees and taxes will be deducted prior to receiving the prize.

The best thing to do is not to respond to phone calls or emails claiming you have won a lottery. Be alert for individuals who approach you in public wanting to share their new fortune with you. If it sounds too good to be true…it is.

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Many consumers prefer the convenience of online shopping over conventional shopping. There is no need to look for a parking space, no waiting for assistance from a salesperson or having to wait in long lines at the checkout. The latest technology allows scammers to set up bogus retail websites that look like legitimate online retail stores. Scammers may use a logo, design and layout similar to the true website. These unsuspecting consumers looking for bargains oftentimes fall victim to this scam.

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Result: You may pay for items that are poorly made or never receive them. Payment is made by wire transfer via Western Union or MoneyGram, a Green Dot prepaid debit card, or by providing your bank account information. You could become a victim of identity theft after providing personal information.

Additionally, clicking on specific links may unleash malware onto your computer or phone. Make sure the business has a physical address and telephone number you can contact if there's a problem. Ensure the website is secure before providing your personal financial information; if not, this may lead to identity theft.

Email Pitch: You receive a legitimate-looking email or see a job posting that directs you to, what appears to be, a professional website. After submitting an application, you may have a telephone interview. Then they inform you that you have got the job!

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You just need to pay a fee to cover the cost it takes to place you in the job. They will also ask you to fill out an online form. Result: After you have paid the fee, you determine that the job does not exist.