Be Cautious of Two Current Scams
"One-Ring" Phone Scam
Some of us just can't resist answering the phone when it rings, even if we don't recognize the number. And those running a new take on an old scam are counting on it. It's the latest version of the old scam that causes consumers to rack up high phone call fees. Here's how it works...
This involves scammers disguising international phone calls to make them appear as though they originated from a local number. They will call your number, let it ring once and then hang up. The caller will often have a local area code (309, 217 or 815) to make you more likely to call back if you didn't pick up the call for some reason. The Federal Communications Commission says that if you return the call, you have a good chance of connecting to an international number that charges a large fee just for calling and quite possibly per-minute fees for remaining on the line.
Other known area codes being used include 809, 284, 876, among others.
You can avoid this scam by simply not answering calls from numbers you don't know. When in doubt, do not pick up and then wait to see if the caller leaves you a voicemail. If the call is valid and the caller needs to speak with you, they will very likely leave you a message.
This scam involves sending "spoofed" emails made to look like they come from a CEO or other executive asking for a PDF of W-2 form from all employees. If the W-2 info is given, it contains all of the information required to file fraudulent tax returns and steal your identity.
Prevent loss by doing the following:
- If you receive an email like this, look up the phone number for the supposed requesting entity and verify the request. Do not call any phone number provided in the email but instead do a web search or go old-school and look it up in the phone book.
- File your state and federal taxes as quickly as you can, or file for an October 16 extension early, before the scammers can file a false claim.
- Consider filing Form 14039 and request an IP PIN from the government. This form requires you to state you believe you are likely to be a victim of identity fraud. Even if cybercriminals haven't tried to file a fraudulent return, virtually every American's data has been stolen, which can lead to your identity being stolen.
- Place a security or credit "freeze" on your files with the three credit bureaus to help prevent ID thieve from assuming your identity.
- Every four months, get a free once-a-year credit report from the major credit bureaus. Put them on your calendar and cycle through them throughout the year. Immediately dispute any unauthorized activity. And yes, you should be able to obtain your credit reports even if you have frozen your credit.
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