The Office of Vermont Attorney General has released the top ten scams that affected Vermonters in 2017.
The list of scams also tells you what the scams are about and what to do if you fall victim to one of them. You can see the list below.
1. IRS Scam
The scam: A phone call claiming you owe “back taxes” or payments to the government allegedly from the IRS or “US Treasury and Legal Affairs.” They may threaten you with arrest or investigation. The caller may say they are with the “United States government” or something similar.
How to spot the scam: The IRS will never call you at home to threaten legal action.
What to do: Don’t respond to these callers. If you think you may actually owe back taxes, hang up and contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.
2. Computer Tech Support Scam
The scam: A phone call or pop-up message on your computer claiming to be from Microsoft/Windows or another well-known tech company. They will say that there’s a virus or other problem with your computer and try to persuade you to give them remote access to resolve the issue.
How to spot the scam: Legitimate customer service information usually won’t display as a pop-up. Verify any customer service number before calling it. Legitimate tech companies do not call you to notify you of malware on your computer.
What to do: Never provide remote access to your computer to a stranger or click links from an unknown sender in an e-mail or pop-up message. If you get a call from “tech support,” hang up and contact a local service provider, or call CAP.
3. General Phishing Scams
The scam: An attempt to gather personal data by posing as someone else—a friend, family member, or a business. They may try to get access to your bank account, social security number or passwords. Beware of “spoofed” phone numbers, e-mail addresses and social media accounts.
How to spot the scam: It’s tricky! Avoid clicking unsolicited links and think before you provide personal or financial information.
What to do: Be wary responding to unsolicited contacts and never provide account information to unknown contactors.
4. Grandparent Scam
The scam: Scammers pose as grandchildren and claim to be in serious trouble, such as in prison or at the hospital. They urgently request money in the form of wired funds or prepaid gift cards.
How to spot the scam: Call your family members on known phone numbers to ensure your grandchild is safe.
What to do: Never wire or otherwise send funds unless you can verify the emergency.
5. “Yes” Scam
The scam: A phone call attempting to make the answerer say “yes” so that scammers can capture Vermonters’ voices to approve future purchases or access to accounts.
How to spot the scam: It’s a pre-recorded voice call, and the voice on the other end will ask a question such as “can you hear me?” to get you to say “yes.”
What to do: Hang up right away.
6. Spoofed Calls
The scam: Spoofed calls come from a number that appears local to Vermont – or even your town. But in reality, the scammer is often calling from overseas, and “spoofing” the number to make it look like a neighbor so you’ll be inclined to answer.
How to spot the scam: The call comes from a number you don’t recognize and/or is happening repeatedly at all hours.
What to do: Ignore the call and block the number. Don’t call the number back – chances are the person you are calling has nothing to do with the scam.
7. Credit Card Services Scam
The scam: An unsolicited offer for credit card services. They will request personal or financial information.
How to spot the scam: The offers will likely sound too good to be true and involve requests for personal or financial information.
What to do: Never give personal or financial information to an unverified credit card service that contacts you.
8. Publishers Clearing House Scam
The scam: A call, email or letter claiming that a consumer has won big from Publishers Clearing House and needs to pay a fee to collect winnings. Sometimes this will include a realistic-looking check.
How to spot the scam: If you actually win a major prize from Publishers Clearing House, they will contact you in person. For smaller prizes (less than $10,000), winners are notified by overnight delivery services (FedEx, UPS), certified mail, or email in the case on online giveaways. They never make phone calls.
What to do: Never pay an upfront fee to receive winnings. If you win something, they will pay you – not the other way around.
9. Phony Prizes, Lotteries and Sweepstakes
The scam: A phone call or mailing claiming that you won money or a prize but have to make a payment in order to receive it. Sometimes the outreach includes a realistic-looking fake check. The check bounces and no “winnings” are ever paid.
How to spot the scam: If it is a well-known organization, try contacting them to verify the information. If it is an unknown organization, the winnings are likely fake. An unsolicited check in the mail from an unknown sender is usually a scam.
What to do: Never pay upfront to receive winnings. If you win something, they will pay you – not the other way around.
10. Grant Scam
The scam: A phone call the recipient has received or won a grant, often claiming to be from the government or the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
How to spot the scam: The government will never contact individuals to inform them they have won a grant they did not apply for.
What to do: Never disclose personal or financial information to an unverified source.