Scam of the day – October 6, 2016 – Latest IRS scam

Phony phone calls, text messages and emails purporting to be from the IRS demanding payment for allegedly overdue taxes are a common scam, which can be easily avoided merely by being aware that the IRS will never initiate contact with you to collect overdue taxes by an email, text message or phone call.  Recently, however, a new, more insidious IRS scam is being reported that is presently being investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  The new scam involves a phony version of a legitimate notice form of the IRS designated as CP 2000.  This form is sent by the IRS when income reported by employers does not match the income reported on the taxpayer’s income tax return.  These phony versions are being sent by mail as well as attachments to emails. The letter accompanying the phony form indicates that the form relates to the Affordable Care Act.  The real form is an extensive six page form that contains instructions about what steps to take whether you agree with the assessment or disagree with the assessment.

TIPS

There are many indications that the phony form presently being circulated is a scam.  If you receive the form electronically through a text message or an email, it is a scam.  The version being sent by mail may look legitimate, but it directs you to make your payment to the IRS while the real CP 2000 will tell you to make your payment to the United States Treasury.  The fraudulent notices also indicate that they are being sent from an Austin, Texas address.  Additionally, the real CP 2000 is usually between  six and seven pages long including instructions while the phony forms are generally around three pages long.  If you receive such a form and have any concern that the notice may really be from the IRS merely call the IRS at 1-800 -366-4484 to confirm that it is a scam.

Scam of the day – February 3, 2015 – Affordable Care Act phishing scam

Recently the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about a phishing scam related to the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.  Since its inception, there has been much confusion about many aspects of the Affordable Care Act and scammers are taking advantage of this confusion by sending emails to their intended victims that purport to come from a federal agency involved with the Affordable Care Act in which the person receiving the email is asked for personal information or directed to a website by way of a link that, if clicked on, will cause keystroke logging malware to be downloaded on to the victim’s computer or other electronic device that will enable the scammer to steal the personal information of the victim and make him or her a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

The rules to follow in order to avoid becoming a victim of this scam are simple and easy to follow.  Never provide personal information in response to an email, text message or phone call from someone until you have confirmed that the communication is legitimate.  You can never trust any communication to be from who it purports to be until you have independently confirmed that it is both legitimate and that there is a legitimate need for your personal information.  You can determine whether or not a communication is legitimate or not through a phone call or other communication with the real company or agency that the communication purports to be. Don’t use the phone number, website or email address supplied to you in the communication itself.  You cannot trust it.

Also, never, and I mean never, click on links in any email or text message until you have again confirmed that the communication is legitimate.  Even if the email address from which the message is that of a legitimate company or agency, their email could have been hacked, so never click on a link until you have independently confirmed that it is legitimate.

Finally, make sure you have a good firewall as well as anti-virus and anti-malware software on all of your electronic devices and keep these security programs updated with the latest patches.

Scam of the day – September 24, 2013 – Obamacare scams aimed at Medicare recipients

Regular readers of Scamicide (which I hope you all are or will become) know that I have been warning you about various scams tied to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.  There is a good reason for this.  The Affordable Care Act is a complicated piece of legislation about which people have some knowledge, but are not entirely familiar with it because it is so complicated.  With the upcoming October first starting date for the state insurance exchanges through which people will be able to purchase health insurance policies, many people are being contacted by scam artists attempting to sell phony health insurance policies.

TIP

For people enrolled in Medicare, it is particularly easy to know if the person contacting you about purchasing a health insurance policy in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act is a scammer or not because people who are enrolled in Medicare, through their Medicare enrollment meet the insurance requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act and need not purchase further health insurance to comply with the law.  In fact someone trying to sell you an Affordable Care Act health insurance policy knowing you already are covered by Medicare is subject to a fine of up to $25,000 or a prison term of up to five years or both.  So if you are on Medicare and you are contacted about purchasing a new health insurance policy to comply with Obamacare, you can just ignore the scammer.

Scam of the day – September 4, 2013 – Another Affordable Care Act scam

I have already written three times during the past six months about scams connected with the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as many people refer to it and there is a good reason that I have written about it so much.  It is a complicated law about which many people are confused. This confusion is exploited by identity thieves and scammers to steal your money.  With the October first date of the launching of the health insurance exchanges where you will be provided information about your health insurance options and be able to apply for coverage, the identity theft schemes and scams will be in high gear.  I expect to warn you about many more scams and identity theft schemes connected to the Affordable Care Act in the upcoming days and weeks.  Many people will be going to the Internet for information about their insurance choices and identity thieves and scammers being aware of this fact are putting up websites with domain names that appear to be legitimate, but are merely vehicles to either get your personal information to make you a victim of identity theft or to get you to pay for phony insurance and lose your money.  In some instances, these phony websites will lure you to clicking on links that will download keystroke logging malware on to your computer that will steal all of the personal information from your computer and be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

When searching for the official health insurance exchanges, a good rule to follow is to start with the only official federal Affordable Health Care Act website, which is www.healthcare.gov.  This is a website upon which you can rely.  Some states will have their own health insurance exchange websites and a good rule to follow is to make sure that the website domain name ends with ,gov.  Many scammers use similar names, but use .com or .net.   In almost all instances these websites ending in .com or .net purporting to be official governmental websites will be scams, although just to make things difficult the state of Pennsylvania has its official website end in .com.