Editorial

Donít fall victim to a scam

Monday, January 30, 2017

Wouldnít it be awesome to actually get a couple million dollars from a long, lost ancestor who lives in a foreign land? Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

And, also unfortunately, spam is no longer just a canned meat. Now, itís instead an unsolicited email promoting get-rich-quick schemes and tricky links.

This time of year is prime for scammers, considering people are filing their taxes and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is in the forefront of everyoneís mind.

The internet makes it all too easy for those with ill intentions to have the means to not only track down those who are vulnerable (or gullible), and convince them to hand over their hard-earned money.

So, itís important to remain vigilant when someone calls your phone demanding payment or a faux Publisherís Clearing House win asks you to send in money to get money.

Recently, the Indiana State Police sent out a press release detailing a few examples of the scams that are hitting the area.

Of course, the IRS scam is among the most prominent at the moment. Imposters will demand immediate payment with the threat of the local sheriff coming to their door if they do not comply.

The IRS website states it will never call to demand payment using a specific payment method. Instead, the government entity will generally send a bill through the mail first if any taxes are owed. Also, the IRS will never threaten to immediately bring in police to arrest you. Taxpayers have an opportunity to question and appeal the amount owed, so the IRS will not demand immediate payment over the phone. The IRS will also never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

The IRS website also notes during the 2016 tax season, the agency saw a 400 percent increase in phishing and malware incidents. The emails are set up to trick taxpayers to think the IRS is asking for specific information, such as social security numbers. The click-through links can mock official websites. The IRS urges users to be hypervigilant.

Some scammers are targeting older individuals in the area, with the help of social media providing some personal information and background. The ISP press release said an individual will call an elderly person, claiming to be a law enforcement agency and stating a relative is in trouble -- whether it be an arrest or after a supposed crash.

Recently, someone called the Greene County Daily World office to report an odd scam occurrence. The man received a phone call from a local phone number, with caller ID showing the call was originating from a neighboring county. The caller left his victim with some unkind words.

The man said he called the number back, obviously angry, and accidentally yelled at an unsuspecting elderly woman.

The original caller had ďspoofedĒ his number, which utilizes online tools to make a number look like it is coming from anywhere including your own city or the IRS.

There are consistently new scams created, probably daily. The best way to protect yourself is to remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And, do your homework.

Donít give out your personal information over the phone and donít click on suspicious links. The internet has made it easier than ever to trick people into giving up their money without realizing. Be aware and help educate family members who may be easily susceptible to tricksters.