It’s a sad reality that with the arrival of tax season comes a rise in phone scams. It’s something that we see every year, and it seems that scammers get more and more clever as each year passes. Even though seniors are often the targets of these scams, it’s important that everyone knows what to do if you’ve been the target of a phone scam.
Common Scare Tactics
Before we discuss what to do if you’ve been the target of a phone scam, it’s important to understand the various scare tactics that scammers typically use. Most scammers will try to pressure you with urgency. In this year’s most recent IRS scam, scammers repeatedly call saying that you have charges filed against you and that if you don’t act now, you’ll be arrested.
Another common scare tactic is that scammers become threatening anytime questions are asked. A scammer hates answering questions as it’s more likely he/she will be caught in a lie, so ask a lot of questions if you have any suspicions.
What to Do
Below are the steps to take if you’ve been the target of a phone scam:
- Check if it’s legitimate. If you’re unsure if a phone call is legitimately from the IRS, the U.S. Treasurer’s Office or any other company or agency, you can check with the Better Business Bureau at 1-800-362-0494.
- Know who to contact. To report a scam that’s using the seals of the Treasury Bureau, contact the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General here. It’s a short form that asks you to provide details about your allegation, and it only takes a few minutes to complete. If you are unsure if the scam is using official seals illegally, it’s best to use the Federal Trade Commission’s Compliant Assistance and report the scam using the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker. Another great resource is STOPFRAUD.GOV, which also allows you to report financial fraud.
- Don’t stay silent! Many people may be hesitant to report a scam simply because they are unsure of how to do so, but the resources outlined above make the process very simple. Reporting a scam is key in ending this vicious cycle, and any details you can provide, no matter how small, can help authorities find the scammer.
- Spread the word. This is perhaps the best thing you can do if you’ve been the target of a scam. Spreading the word will help raise awareness of a particular scam and can help protect others from being victims of the same scam.
Other Important Reminders:
- Never give personal information or credit card information over the phone.
- If the person is really who they say they are, they’ll be able to prove it. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask for verification.
- It’s a good idea to place your number on the National Do Not Call Registry to avoid receiving these scam calls.