July 16, 2019

Local authorities warn consumers to beware of potential phone scams

(Franklin, GA) — Authorities in Heard County are reminding residents to be cautious about potential IRS and Social Security scams especially during tax season.

There are dozens of new scams each year and in some cases, the scammers can sound very convincing. Investigator Dan Boswell of the Heard County Sheriff’s Office says the number of reports of scams in the local area is on the rise.

Scam victims often do not report monetary losses to relatives or law enforcement because they’re embarrassed. Below are some tips to help protect yourself from these scams courtesy of the Office of the Inspector General.

TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF  

Understand the threats. Fraudsters use several forms of impersonation, advance fee, and phishing schemes. They might contact you and claim to be from SSA, the IRS, or another government agency and request your information. They might claim that you have won the lottery or become eligible for an investment if you pay an upfront fee. They might design emails or text messages that look legitimate and request your immediate response. Be aware of these types of schemes, so you can identify them and guard against them.

Exercise caution. In general, no government agency or reputable company will call or email you unexpectedly and request your personal information, or request advance fees for services in the form of wire transfers or gift cards. Build a habit of verifying the identity of anyone who asks for your personal information over the phone, and say you will respond through the entity’s customer service channels. If anyone pressures you to provide information or money over the phone, it’s a scam and you should just hang up.

Secure your information. Store your Social Security card in a secure location; avoid carrying it with you. Shred documents that list personal information such as your Social Security number and banking information. Avoid opening emails from unknown sources or clicking on suspicious hyperlinks. Equip your computing devices with strong anti-virus software and maintain strong passwords. Regularly check your credit reports for suspicious activity.

REPORT SCAMS

You may report suspicious activity or communications claiming to be from the Social Security Administration to the Social Security Fraud Hotline.

If you believe you have been a victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam, please report that activity to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The Federal Trade Commission has many resources to help you report and recover from identity theft, at ftc.gov/idtheft.

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