Fraud Prevention

Special Alert: In Recent months an abnormally large amounts of fraudulent
e-mail pretending to be from the IRS have been sent out. These e-mails state that the receiver has an uncollected refund. The IRS will never contact you by e-mail, so do not respond to any e-mail claiming to be from the IRS.

Here are twelve tips to help you avoid being a victim of internet schemes:

1. The IRS will never contact you by e-mail or by phone, nor will they ever ask you for account information or your social security number. Please forward any e-mails you receive pretending to be from the IRS so we can forward them to the IRS Fraud Department. If you receive written communication from the IRS, please bring it to us so we may help you correctly answer any communication.

2. Your bank will never ask for your account information; they already have it. Never give an unsolicited phone call or e-mail any account information

3. Beware of imposters. Someone might send you an email pretending to be connected with a business or charity, or create a website that looks just like that of a well-known company or charitable organization. If you’re not sure that you’re dealing with the real thing, find another way to contact the legitimate business or charity and ask. If a seller or charity is unfamiliar, check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau. Some websites have feedback forums which can provide useful information about other people’s experiences with particular sellers. Get the physical address and phone number, in case there is a problem later.

4. Look for information about how complaints are handled. It can be difficult to resolve complaints, especially if the seller or charity is located in another country. Look on the Website for information about what programs the company or organization participates in that set standards for reliability and handling disputes. Remember, however, that no complaints is no guarantee of legitimacy. Fraudulent operators open and close quickly, so the fact that no one has made a complaint yet doesn’t mean that the seller or charity is legitimate. Look for other signs of fraud.

5. Don’t believe promises of easy money. If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam.

6. Understand the offer. A legitimate seller will give you all the details about the products or services, the total price, the delivery time, the refund and cancellation policies, and the terms of any warranty.

7. Resist pressure. Legitimate companies and charities will be happy to give you time to make a decision. It’s probably a scam if they demand that you act immediately or won’t take “No” for an answer.

8. Think twice before entering contests operated by unfamiliar companies. Fraudulent marketers sometimes use contest entry forms to identify potential victims.

9. Be cautious about unsolicited emails. They are often fraudulent. If you are familiar with the company or charity that sent you the email and you don’t want to receive further messages, send a reply asking to be removed from the email list. If you are not familiar with the company or charity, remember that responding to them will verify that yours is a working email address and result in even more unwanted messages from strangers. The best approach in this case may simply be to delete the email.

10. Guard your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

11. Beware of “dangerous downloads.” In downloading programs to see pictures, hear music, play games, etc., you could download a virus that wipes out your computer files or connects your modem to a foreign telephone number, resulting in expensive phone charges. Only download programs from websites you know and trust. Read all user agreements carefully.

12. Pay the safest way. Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly. There are new technologies, such as “substitute” credit card numbers and password programs that can offer extra measures of protection from someone else using your credit card.