Wednesday, January 21, 2015

IRS Lawsuit scam - don't call back

As a small home business, I think I get an unusually high number of telemarketing and scammy phone calls during the day. As a smart cookie, I can spot these a mile away now, but just in case you aren't as familiar with them, here a couple of tips:

1. If you get a call that has a recorded message "we've been trying to reach you. The IRS is filing a lawsuit against you. Please call (blank number) to resolve this issue . . . it's a scam. Just got this one this morning. The IRS will always contact you in writing first, and believe me, they have your address information. They will not call you. Not unless you have already ignored all the written letters. And when they do, it will be a live person, not a robo-call. Do not call back. It WILL be a live person, probably with a foreign accent, and they will ask you all kinds of personal financial questions which they will use to dupe you further. Just give yourself a break and let it go.

2. If you get any kind of questionable call, google the phone number, or google the issue (like 'IRS lawsuit scam') and you will know instantly what it's all about. Do this BEFORE you do one other thing.

3. If anyone starts asking you questions about your personal information, to verify your account or passwords etc., DO NOT give out anything. Nobody is going to call you and ask for that stuff. Really. Any legitimate business will verify themselves fully and give you a way to check it out for real before you make yourself vulnerable. Like you can call them back on their main line to do it with their fraud dept, or customer service or whatnot.

I continue to get the frustrating calls from the so-called "Windows Technical Dept" that there is a virus on my computer and they want me to go through some kind of process over the phone to fix it - which, in scam speak, means they are then actually downloading their own virus directly onto my computer. Windows is not going to call you. They are not monitoring every computer on earth to know what is happening to your desktop or laptop. Use common sense and just hang up.

Bottom line: be sharp, question everything, do not share anything over the phone unless you have double or triple checked it out before you call them back. And if it's in your email inbox instead of the phone? Same thing. DO NOT respond or click the link. At all. Never.