“Big Brother is Watching You” – 1984 by George Orwell
It’s that time of the year again…the dreaded tax season! And with tax season comes the risk of falling victim to a scammer. Sleazy government imposters will act like they are from a legitimate government agency, or convince you that they are in law enforcement. They often will give you an “employee ID number” to sound more official and they could have information about you. So, how can you tell if it is a legitimate email or call? Read more to find out!
“Trust No One” – Deep Throat from the X-Files
This type of scam often starts off with a call, email, or maybe even a text message from a “government official.” They might use big words or include a legitimate ID number to seem more official or trustworthy. They will likely give you a reason as to why you need to send the money or give them your personal info immediately. For example, they might say “You have an outstanding debt that, if left unpaid, could result in jail time.” This is a big red flag! Government agencies will not call, email, or text you asking for personal info or money…hang up because it is most likely a scammer!
Here are some more quick and easy steps to avoid falling victim to a government imposter scam:
- Don’t send cash, wire money, or a gift card to someone who says they are from a government agency.
- This is a go to method for a scammer to use because it is hard to track the money they sent and almost impossible to get back. It’s a tuck and roll, they will steal your money and then *poof* disappear. Pretty good, but an evil magic trick.
- Be reluctant to give any personal or bank information to someone who says they are a government official over text, email, or by phone.
- Like any other scam, this should sound an alarm if you are asked to fork any sensitive information over. If you think it could be real, hang up and call the government agency back at a number you know is correct. Don’t redial the phone by clicking the number they called from – it could be spoofed! You can very easily learn whether or not you saved yourself from a massive headache.
- Steer clear of links that are sent via emails or text message.
- Scammers are likely to send emails or texts with fraudulent links. So, if you see an email from a government agency containing a link, don’t click on it, or pass it along to someone else. These can be designed to steal your personal information. This is like other scams that I have previously warned you about. Simply delete the intriguing email with the no-good link and free up the inbox space.
- Be very wary of caller ID…
- Caller ID is a very wonderful tool to that helps you decide whether or not you want to answer a call or not. However, the digital age makes it very easy for fraudsters to manipulate caller ID to spoof the number from a legitimate business, or in this case, a government agency. Proceed with caution. Don’t pass go. Do not collect $200.
“A Nation of Sheep Will Beget A Government of Wolves” – Edward R. Murrow
No matter the time of the year, you should be vigilant of government imposters. The last thing you want is your hard earned money being stolen from you. Just because someone says they are from the government doesn’t mean that they necessarily are. Their whole objective is to scare you into sending money, don’t let them do that! Take a deep breath, spend a little time researching and then save yourself from the wolves that prey on your money.
For more information, check out the infographic below!