Tax fraudsters are…doing their thing. I keep an ear close to the ground and I haven’t heard about anything new under the sun this year. Meanwhile, non-tax scammers are flourishing, angling to intercept our tax refunds after we receive them. 

  • If you ever get a call threatening to revoke your driver’s license or your passport, just hang up.
  • Gift cards play a central role in the scam ecosystem. A scammer might ask you to buy gift cards and then call them back with the account numbers, and promise to pay you back with interest. Gift cards are  anonymous to use, and once they are purchased, they cannot be refunded. I have a sneaking suspicion that the scammers who asked my employees to run errands were going to have them buy gift cards.
  • There are still a lot of fraudsters operating via email, often purporting to be from Amazon, Adobe, and Norton. They typically ask you to confirm some “details.” Always look at the email address very carefully whenever you interact with anyone — especially when what they’re saying is too good to be true. 
  • Predictably, people are abusing Venmo, Zelle, Cashapp, etc. The ease with which we can send money places has led to a lot of people sending money first and thinking it through later. Be careful what you authorize!
  • Avoid your local, free standing ATM. Whether it’s in a bodega or country club, these are the ATMs most vulnerable to fraud and identity theft scams, like skimming. Skimming involves secretly recording the bank account data of whoever uses the ATM. Additionally, if you’re using your debit card for a point-of-sale purchase, always use it as a credit card when it asks. That way you’ll have more identity theft protection and purchase protection.
  • The Google Voice scam is making the rounds. The fraudsters call you and tell you that a verification code from Google Voice is about to be sent to you. When it comes through, they will ask you to read it back. What they’re really doing is setting up Google Voice accounts in your name — accounts which they will use to do other scams while pretending to be you. If you get a verification code, just delete the email and move on with your life. 

Protecting yourself against scams is now more like required reading rather than summertime reading. I think a lot of people feel like this scourge of scammers is part of the other changes in society (like paying to access your own money) — when in reality scamming people is really the world’s oldest profession.  Knowing this makes us stronger…as does reading this blog!

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