Scams and Frauds for 2017 - An Update

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If I received 10 calls from the "IRS" last year, I received 50. You know the one - pay up or you may go to jail. It's one of many schemes and frauds that surprisingly do work! You see older seniors come from a generation that paid their bills, on time. So when they receive calls like the IRS scam, well some want to pay the bill and do. It's sad. But with each new year comes new twists. Let's see what's going on for 2017.

Tax Scams Continue

According to experts, the tax scams will continue but it may shift to students with college loans. But there had also been a fourfold increase in hacking tax professionals' computers so be sure your accounting and/or tax firm is reputable and up-to-date on its security.

Phone Scams Continue

According to PinDrop Labs:

Last year, 11% of U.S. consumers reported that they lost money to a telephone scam, according to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll. The survey estimates that 27 million U.S. consumers lost approximately $7.4 billion to phone scams, averaging $274 per victim.

The new twist this year is Robocalls. Pindrop analyzed 100,000 calls in the first half of 2016; 30,000 were robocalls. They found that the top 40 scam campaigns account for 50 percent of Robocalls. Here is an example of a call targeting seniors.

Not all Robocalls target seniors but the most likely ones will promise to lower your bills; give you a free security system; call about your credit cards.

Scare You to Death

According to a recent AARP Bulletin, in 2017, you may:

encounter frightening but faux threats of arrest, lawsuits and financial ruin for supposedly missing jury duty or not paying a bill.

What You Can Do

Here are some of the things I suggested:

• Prevention is always your best option. Self-monitoring your credit will enable you to spot any issues and resolve them right away.

• You may want to consider signing up for identity theft protection. It can make the messy process of restoration less of a headache.

• Consider identity theft insurance. Identity theft insurance will cover money spent recovering your identity.

• If you are hiring home health or other medical professionals do so from reputable agencies that require background checks.

• Get a home safe or a safe-deposit box so that documents containing personal and financial information are locked away.

• Shred, shred, shred.

• Consider a security wallet or handbag that protects against credit card skimming and theft. Don't carry your Social Security or Medicare card with you.

• Monitor your credit card, bank statements and medical bills. Thieves put test credits into bank accounts to see if it works then siphon money out if it does.

• Stealing mail is having a resurgence. Retrieve your mail as soon as you can when at home. Stop mail when away. Get your statements online. As scary as it sounds online is the safest way to go.

• Create strong passwords on your computer. Beware of mystery links. Install firewalls and virus-detection software.

• Learn your Smart Phone's security features.

PinDrop also recommends using a call-blocking service like Hiya or Truecaller that can alert you when a call is from a scammer by checking the number against databases of phone numbers commonly used by illegal robocallers. PinDrop also suggests that if you are that concerned, call them back.

Ask to call them back. If the caller says this is not possible, they are likely a fraudster. When calling back, do not use the number the initial caller gives you or the Caller ID, but rather ask for a case number for your scenario and then look up the number for the specific organization on your own - for example, on the back of your credit card.

If you come across scams you feel are new, let me know too and we can share the information with readers. Happy New Year. Make it a safe and healthy one.