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IRS Letter Scam and More

By Independent Bank August 13 2019 Cybersecurity

Scams to be on the watch for this summer and fall

Digital image of womans eye. Security concept

You’re not alone if you are shaking your head at the thought of another scam you have to watch out for. The numbers are pretty clear; phishing, scams, and identity theft are on the rise. As frustrating as that is, the best way to avoid current scams is to know what’s out there and the tactics being used to get you to part with your money. Here are a few current scams to watch out for this summer and fall:

The IRS Letter Scam

People have gotten savvier, which means scammers have too. Consumers learned swiftly that the IRS never calls and demands immediate payment. Instead, they learned that a letter was the first step in the IRS collection process.

Scammers followed suit, and have adjusted their tactics. Instead of those threatening, you’re-going-to-jail calls, you may receive a letter from the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” However, before you pay, understand there is no such thing as the Bureau of Tax Enforcement.

Scammers have upped their game, so it’s up to you to know what’s legitimate and what’s not. If you receive a letter from the “IRS,” and the information seems correct, check these things:

  • Your notice will come in a government envelope and will include the IRS seal on the notice or letter
  • A notice or letter number can commonly be found at the top right-hand corner
  • The letter will include legitimate IRS contact information
  • The tax years and your truncated (abbreviated) tax ID will typically be included
  • You will receive the supplemental “Your Rights as a Taxpayer”
  • Your payment options will be valid (things like a check to the U.S. Treasury, but not gift cards, calling a random number with your debit or credit number, or paying with iTunes

Equifax Breach

The Equifax Breach compromised millions of people’s sensitive information. In addition, scammers are trying to take advantage of those seeking their settlement. Since the FTC released the information on how consumers could get their settlement, fake websites have begun to pop up. To avoid a scam, use the links provided by the FTC, and be aware of people or websites that ask you to pay to get your settlement.

Quick Credit Cleanup

If you are a desperate consumer that needs to improve your credit, it’s crucial to understand that it takes time. Beware of any “company” that claims to have quick credit cleanup. Your best course of action is to take the right steps toward repairing your credit. There are legitimate professionals who can help, but they are people who make sure you understand that it’s a process. However, it’s also something that can be done on your own.

Rental Home

Have you ever perused Craigslist and seen an ad for an amazing single-family home at an incredible price for your area? Chances are, it really is too good to be true. Scammers have begun to form fraudulent home rental companies, list fake ads, and even created listings on Zillow and Trulia. It’s essential to go with your gut; talk to the listing people, research property management companies, and look at really low rental market pricing as a red flag.

It can feel overwhelming to realize how many scams are out there. Your best defense is using your intuition. For the most part, the world is a pretty wonderful and legitimate place. You can stay safe by staying aware and reporting any suspicious activity that comes to your inbox, home, or phone.

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