I wish I could tell you that while we all struggle to make ends meet in this era of COVID-19, that there were no attempts to try to trick you into a fraudulent transaction. In fact, statistics show a sharp increase in scamming, as criminals become desperate to make their ends meet. Make sure that you do not open your wallet and/or bank account to these scoundrels.
Here is a list of some more recent reported alleged fraud crimes:
According to Okoboji in Spirit Lake, IA, Arnolds Park police stated that they have had reports from people over a period of days placing calls trying to get innocent bystanders to purchase gift cards to pay for goods over the phone, and offers to lower Direct TV bills. One instance offered the victim to lower the the cable bill to $80 a month if they paid 10 months up-front with $800 in Ebay cards. Honest businesses NEVER request any payment be made through the practice of you purchasing a gift card of any type. Most businesses take credit cards, so that if there really was a problem, you have some type of recourse. Never use your credit card to purchase a gift card to a supposed company and read the numbers to anyone over the phone, as you may not be able to file a claim with the card company, and even so, there will be a lot of hoops to jump thorough in order to claim a fraudulent charge. If you believe that you have been a victim, call police immediately and you can contact the AT&T Support Article for help or call in the U.S., DirecTV at 1-800-531-5000 or AT&T at 1-800-288-2020.
According to Motley Fool, a series of gift card phishing scams have been happening nationwide in recent months. A newer scam is circulating nowadays that involves asking taxpayers to satisfy a so-called unpaid tax debt with a gift card. The IRS warns that a gift card is never an acceptable form of payment for tax debt of any type. The IRS has the ongoing policy of accepting a check, EFT automatic withdrawal debit presented to your bank, accepting a credit card for a modest processing fee, or if you have none of these methods, you could at least pay by money order. Never be fooled, if someone is on the line asking for a purchased gift card, it is most likely an attempt to fool you into a succumbing to a fraudulent scheme. Make sure YOU contact the IRS before paying anything to anyone. Caller ID is commonly known that it can and is alterable. The IRS does not threaten via telephone, remotely ever contacts by phone and only by mail–and doesn’t get police officers involved or take action like cancelling your drivers license. You can visit the IRS at and arrange your payment: https://www.irs.gov/payments. If you are scammed, always call police and report your incident to the U.S. Treasury at: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.
According to the Kane County Chronicle, a Maple Park woman was scammed out of $3K in gift cards with a false Amazon “customer service” agent who told the woman that her account was compromised with a transaction that involved a $6,000 television in which she didn’t order that would be delivered that day. Again, a request for payment resolving an account issue with a gift card always spells trouble. Amazon and other reputable companies NEVER request that you make a payment to them, or the agent itself through payment by you going out and buying a gift card. If you believe that you have been defrauded, call police and visit Amazon’s help desk concerning fraud at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GRGRY7AQ3LMPXVCV or contact the fraud department for Amazon in the U.S. at the following phone number: 1-866-216-1075.
Calls from “agents” that are trying to lower your cable bills are very popular in these times. According to abc27.com/investigators in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a Enola resident lost $300 when he received a call from someone claiming to be with Comcast with the offer to lower the bill. The “agent” instructed him to get a gift card from Best Buy for $300, and to call back to give the code on the back of the gift card and that he would in return get free channels, that he didn’t have to worry about the bill for the next 2 months and by the third month he would see the bill lowered to $149.99 per month for the next 24 months thereafter. If you suspect that someone has initiated a fraudulent transaction with you, contact police immediately and Comcast/xFinity’s help site at https://www.xfinity.com/idtheftclaimform, or call in the U.S. at 1-800-XFINITY.
Newtown Township, Pennsylvania Police had incidents that scammers sent emails posing as friends, family, and known associates, attempting to defraud. One man was tricked into giving $3,300 in gift cards to a scam artist who might have known the person. The scammer told him in the email that the money was going to his local church. Always contact the charity yourself without clicking a link or accepting the incoming call, from an information source such as Google in order to facilitate your donation. Contact police if you even think that you have suffered a loss or shared any personal information as a result of a scam.
On a local level, a scammer is right there! According to CBS-2 TV, PlayStation 5 is in high demand right now, so much so that Target’s and Walmart’s websites crashed due to a high volume of internet traffic, and scammers realize this and try to capitalize on the facts. They are out there to get the first person they can scam. Don’t let it be you. An Oak Forest family had two brothers that learned the hard way when they tried to log onto Instagram to find a console and found a scammer at @Medokicks instead. Don’t go by any posts that support an Instagram account as being legit. In this case, the account even had a his oldest post is from weeks ago old post that posted some Air Jordans that were previously for sale were shipped right out. @Mendokicks convinced one of the brothers to to Zelle $425, and then the Instagram account stopped responding and blocked him. If you are victim to this, contact police and review the Instagram help page: Instagram help forum or Facebook help forum. If you are defrauded, the only way you will successfully be able to contact either of Facebook or Instagram via telephone would be to have the police directly reach out to them while at the station.
What To Do If You Think You Have Been Scammed:
Report the incident immediately to any of the following agencies:
- Your local police station if you are at any monetary loss, especially if you have any recourse to issue a fraud claim, because they will need a police report number in order to initiate a claim.
- The Federal Trade Commission at FTC Complaint Assistant.
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service if you received a check by mail or if the mail was used as a tool to facilitate the fraud.
- Your state or local consumer protection agencies. Visit NAAG for a list of state Attorneys General.
- For online crimes involving cash, counterfeit checks and money orders, file an online complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center which is a joint project of both the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center.
- If it involves a check or draft, notifying the bank whose name is on the check or draft.
- Notify the website or online service where you encountered the scammer (Online auction website or a job posting website), so they can be blocked from utilizing their services to further the scamming in the future.
- If it involved counterfeiting or other bank related criminal activities, contact FDIC.gov or call the FDIC at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342).
Never become victim to offers convincing you to do a transaction within minutes, or by buying ANY gift cards–for any reason. Once you give the numbers off the back of a gift cards, the money will be gone. Any offer should be thoroughly be thought of with no duress, so you can think about it–and make a proper decision. If it sound too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t Lose More Than You Should in the COVID-19 Era