Monthly Archives: April 2015

They say they want your opinion, but don’t be fooled!

(Another article from AARP)

The email – often from a well-known retailer like Walmart or Macy’s – may start out innocently enough:

You have been chosen to take part in our brief Customer Satisfaction Survey. If you decide to complete this survey, we will send $150 to your confirmed credit or debit card account just for your time. Helping us better understand how our customers feel, benefits everyone. With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand our services. The survey form is attached to this email. Please download the attachment, open it, and follow the instructions on your screen.
Wanting to help, you play along. The first few questions of the survey may ask basic information about which products and/or services you use or instruct you to evaluate the customer service. But then, the form takes a twist. It asks for personal information like credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers, which is later used against you by a scammer.

Take steps to protect yourself.

Know who you are dealing with. It’s easy to steal the look and feel (colors, logos and header) of an established retailer or organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to reputable websites and emails appear to come from a different sender. Tip: hover over the sender name to make sure the address is valid.
Legitimate businesses will never ask for your Social Security number, money, password, or bank account information on a customer survey.
When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the survey is a scam, you may find alerts or complaints from other consumers, and the organization’s real website may have further information.
Watch out for a reward that’s too good to be true. If the survey is real, you may be entered in a drawing to win a gift card or receive a small discount off your next purchase. Few businesses can afford to give away $150 for completing a few questions.
If you think you have been the victim of a customer service survey scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at


Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network

Tax Scammers Hit New Lows

Sent to me by AARP. I wanted to share, especially with my senior citizens.


April 15 is less than a month away, and scammers are continuing to target people for tax-related scams.

IRS Imposter Scams
The Associated Press recently reported that fake IRS agents have targeted more than 366,000 people with harassing phone calls demanding payments and threatening jail in the largest scam of its kind in the history of the agency.

How it works:

Bogus IRS agents call you, claim you owe taxes, and demand payment using a prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. And, they might even know the last four digits of the taxpayer’s Social Security number.
Those who refuse are threatened with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.
The callers may also manipulate caller ID to make it look like they are calling from an IRS phone number.
The IRS will make contact first by paper mail and they never demand payment by debit card, credit card, or wire transfer.

What to do:

If you get a phone call from someone saying he is with the IRS—hang up and contact the IRS immediately at 1-800-829-1040.

Inflated Refund Scams
With 60% of taxpayers using professional help in filing their taxes, people should be suspicious of anyone promising inflated refunds. “Every filing season, scam artists lure victims in by promising outlandish refunds,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

How it works:

The scammer tells his targets they will get a large refund saying they qualify for fictitious tax credits, rebates, or government benefits.
They may also file a return in the person’s name and not tell the person that a refund was made – the money goes straight into the scammers’ bank account.
These fraudsters may use flyers distributed door-to-door or in community gathering places, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth through community groups and churches to lure their victims.
What to do:

Watch out for tax preparers who promise a big refund – maybe even before looking at your records.
Be careful of supposed tax preparers who charge fees based on a percentage of the return – this is not a standard practice and gives the preparer a strong incentive to falsify the return.
Make sure you get a copy of the return that was filed – and then track the return on the IRS website.
And of course, never sign a blank return – no matter what promises are made!
Identity Theft Refund Fraud
Taxpayers also need to watch out for identity theft, particularly around tax time.

How it works:

You file your taxes expecting a refund.
But, you find out that someone else, using your Social Security number and likely other personal identifying information, has filed a return in your name.
Your return is rejected as a “duplicate” because a refund has already been issued to the scammer.
Also know that scammers will often steal Social Security numbers and other personal information of people who may not be filing a tax return—like your children or grandchildren, folks who may not have income to report, or even the recently deceased. So please share this alert with family and friends and help them detect and correct fraud!

What to do:

If you think someone used your Social Security number for a tax refund contact the IRS as soon as possible. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from thieves in the future. Go to or call 800-908-4490. Also if you haven’t received your refund yet, visit to check your status.

For more information, check out the IRS “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams”.

Kristin Keckeisen
Fraud Watch Network