July has been designated as Military Consumer Month by the Federal Trade Commission. One of the biggest scams affecting both military personnel and civilians is the impostor scam which occurs when a scammer poses as an IRS representative, government official, company representative or even as a family member in difficulty, such as in the case of the grandparent scam with the intention to convince you to send money to the scammer. Interestingly, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) while the average amount loss to civilian victims of this scam is $500, the average amount lost to this scam by military consumers is $699.
There are many ways to avoid this scam in all of its variations, but the most important thing to remember in order to avoid becoming a victim of this scam is to remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” Whenever you receive a telephone call, text message, email or even an old fashioned letter, you can never be sure as to who is really attempting to communicate with you. Your Caller ID can be manipulated by a technique called “spoofing” to make it appear that the call you are receiving is from the IRS or anyone else who the scammer wants to appear to be. Of course, in the case of the IRS, it is essential to remember that the IRS is not going to call you by phone to initiate collection proceedings. Neither are tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft and others going to call you to inform you that you have a problem with your computer that you need to pay them to fix. They also will not cause a pop-up to appear on your computer or phone screen to tell you the same thing. Text messages purporting to be from your bank or credit company are also common impostor scams. Anytime you are told to resolve whatever the emergency about which the scammer is calling by wiring money, providing a credit card number or prepaid debit card number or iTunes card numbers, you should be immediately skeptical. The best course of action when you receive any kind of communication that may be an impostor scam is to either ignore it or to contact the real government agency or company the scammer claims to be at a telephone number or email address that you know is legitimate in order to confirm that it is a scam.
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