Report: IRS, government impostors fastest growing scams - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Report: IRS, government impostors fastest growing scams

Reanna Smith-Hamblin (Source: Todd Hoyer/WAVE 3 News) Reanna Smith-Hamblin (Source: Todd Hoyer/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Scams are targeting millions of Americans every year and scammers are always looking for new and devious ways to trick you out of your money. A new report shows the latest schemes you need to watch out for.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about 20 percent of American’s will experience some form of fraud.

Scammers are getting craftier every year. Now, using your taxes to try and get your money.

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According to a new report from the Consumer Federation of America, IRS imposters are the fastest-growing complaints they are seeing.

These imposters are hitting close to home; our local Better Business Bureau is seeing similar trends in the Louisville area.

"The trends they are hearing most about are the IRS imposter scams, government grants scams, and a local business called "Publisher's Clearinghouse," according to Reanna Smith-Hamblin, president-elect for Louisville's BBB.

To make sure you are not the next victim of one of these schemes, the BBB says:

Be wary if you are being asked to act immediately. Scammers typically try to push you into action before you have had time to think. The IRS will give you the chance to question or appeal what you owe.

The IRS doesn't call, text, or email first. The IRS won't call about payment or overdue taxes unless they have first contacted you by letter.

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Don't wire money, use a prepaid debit card or pay by gift card. Scammers often pressure people into these forms of payment. It's like sending cash: once it's gone, you can't trace it. The IRS says it will never demand immediate payment, require a specific form of payment, or ask for credit card or debt card numbers over the phone.

If you owe taxes or you think you might, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 or irs.gov. IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there is an issue

Hamblin also says, be aware of something called the "Government Grant" scam.

  • The government typically doesn't call, text or email. Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be very cautious of any unsolicited calls, text messages or emails you receive.
  • Don't pay any money for a "free" government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it isn't really free. A real government agency won't ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded.
  • Phone numbers can deceive. Some con artists use Internet technology to disguise their area code in Caller ID systems. Although it may look like they're calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.

As for the Publishers Clearinghouse scam, Hamblin cautions:

  • If you didn’t enter, you didn’t win.
  • If you entered and actually won, a PCH Prize Patrol van will contact you in person with an oversized check. For smaller prizes, winners are notified by overnight delivery, certified mail, or email (per the company). Do not believe "you won" phone calls and texts.
  • If you are asked to send money up-front, it is a scam.
  • If you are asked for financial account information, it is a scam.

Although IRS scams are the fastest-growing, they're still not as common as some scams that have been targeting consumers for years.

According to the Consumer Federation of America top ten consumer complaint list, here are the top ten scams impacting consumers nationwide:

  1. Auto - Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.
  2. Home improvement/Construction - Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.
  3. Utilities - Service problems or billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric, and gas service.  
  4. Credit/Debt - Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief, services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.
  5. Retail Sales - False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards, and gift certificates, failure to deliver.
  6. Services - Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform.
  7. Landlord/Tenant - Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics.
  8. Household Goods - Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances.
  9. Health products/services - Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners.
  10. Internet sales - Misrepresentations or other deceptive, failure to deliver online purchases, fraud. Bogus sweepstakes and lotteries, work-at-home schemes, grant offers, fake check scams, imposter scams and other common frauds.

To submit a complaint or report a scam, visit www.bbb.org. For more scams in your local area go to www.bbb.org/scamtracker.

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