October 10, 2013- Peoria, IL With many
government agencies either shutdown or short staffed, BBB has seen an uptick in
fraud from government impostors. BBB Serving Central Illinois has 3 scams you
need to be on the lookout for.
The first is a warning from
a local tax attorney. The scam: an individual receives a call from someone
claiming to work for the IRS. They are told that if they do not send a certain
amount of money, let’s say $1,000 by the end of the day, they will have someone
arrest them. The individual is instructed to go to Wal-Mart and get a green dot
card and send money. They are told not to tell the person at Wal-Mart the funds
are for the IRS, because Wal-Mart will charge a higher fee.
How are they getting the
info? It appears the scammers are using tax lien information. Cross referencing
that with the local phone book, and then taking a shot gun approach, calling
whoever they can to see if they can find someone to prey upon. The scammers are
taking advantage of the fact that the IRS is currently shutdown, so consumers
cannot verify the legitimacy of the calls and feel threatened.
One week into
the new health care marketplace, BBB is warning consumers about scams tied to
the Affordable Care Act. BBB recommends that
consumers stay vigilant, and beware of unsolicited emails or phone calls from
individuals purporting to be government representatives. With all of the
confusion surrounding the Affordable care act BBB wants consumers to remember,
the government is not emailing, calling, or knocking on doors. If you are
interested in signing up, go directly to the site set up by the government healthcare.gov. You have until March of 2014 to sign up, so take your time to
understand the ins and outs before putting your information out there.
Finally, we warn consumers about collection scams all the time,
but with the government shutdown BBB is seeing a rise in calls from consumers
that have been contacted by phony collection agencies. With no one to regulate
the industry at the moment, scammers are taking advantage of the situation. BBB
wants consumers to know, legitimate collection agencies should not threaten to
arrest you, or require you to wire funds immediately to settle a debt. If you
are unsure if the debt is legitimate, request that the collector send you a
verification letter. If the collector refuses, this is a red flag.
As always, be wary of any high pressure tactics used by any
agency. Wanting you to make a decision immediately about anything is a warning
sign that something may be fishy. If you have any questions, contact BBB and we can help you determine the validity of the phone calls or
emails you receive.
To check the reliability of a company or find trustworthy businesses visit bbb.org.