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The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiles publicly available scam, identity theft, and fraud complaints from around the Commonwealth. We review police logs, news sources, and calls from our Consumer Information Hotline on reported scams.

April 2015 scam log analysis chart

 

How to spot and avoid scams.

ID Theft & Fraud
“Identity theft” is when someone uses your personal information to obtain some kind of benefit for themselves, often a credit card or line of credit. Victims of identity theft often don’t discover the fraudulent charges until the credit card company contacts them for unpaid bills, for an account they did not open.

Tips to avoid identity theft and fraud:

1. Don’t give your credit card numbers or expiration date over the phone, unless you initiated the call.
2. Credit/debit card numbers are never needed for identification purposes. Terminate the call if the caller requests this information.
3. Don’t “confirm” your financial information if someone contacts you for that information. Your credit card or bank issuer has that information already.

What to do if fraud happens:

1. Contact your credit/debit card company immediately & dispute any unauthorized transactions. If you suspect identity theft on your credit report, place a “fraud alert” on your credit report.
2. File a police report and ask for a copy for your records.
3. File a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission – www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

IRS Scam

You receive a call from person claiming to be from the IRS, telling you that you will be arrested, put in jail, and fined if you do not pay them. They ask you to get a prepaid card from a convenience store, load it up with $500 or more, then to call them back, and read them the card number over the phone. Now scammers have your money.

Tips to avoid the IRS scam:

1. The IRS will never call you and threaten jail time. If they ever have to contact you, it will be in an official notice and give you a proper contact number.
2. Find the IRS number on the IRS website or a neutral source and call to it to verify whether you owe any money.
3. Never give out your social security information, the IRS already has that information.

What to do if IRS fraud happens:

1. Report it to the IRS. The IRS has information and contact numbers on their website.
2. File a police report.
3. File a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission – www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

Credit Card Fraud

Someone steals your credit card numbers and uses the numbers to make purchases online or make a clone card and uses it in stores. Those purchases are then sent to a different address, not yours, and you may never even get the bill.

Tips to avoid credit card fraud:

1. Read your credit card & bank statement every month. Look at each purchase listed and make sure that it was you who authorized each one.
2. Avoid your number ever getting in the wrong hands by using a password-protected wireless connection and secure website when shopping online.
3. Never give your credit or debit card number over the phone if you did not initiate the call.

What to do if credit card fraud happens:

1. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately to report fraud.
2. File a police report.
3. File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission – www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

 

 

 

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