Most Common Financial Scams (continued)
Guaranteed Grant Money
These scammers claim that for a very high fee, upwards of $2000 or more, they can guarantee that you will get a government grant for $50,000 or as much as $100,000. This is a complete scam as it is actually very difficult to get a government grant to start a business. One must complete all kinds of paperwork, complete interviews, and submit business plans, etc. in order to get government money. The government does give out grants for education, home improvements, etc., but these are for those who are poor or very low-income. Once the scammers get your processing fee, they will take your money and run. Many of them operate today by using cheap, throw-away cell phones. Once a particular phone number is associated with a scam, they just throw the phone away and use a new one.
Warrant Division Scam
Thieves pretending to be from a police department warrant division contact victims claiming that they or a close relative failed to pay a fine and will go to jail immediately if a fine is not paid. They will try to get the victim to disclose personal information so they can steal their identity or money from a checking account.
Walmart or Gift Card Scams
Thieves call, email or text victims informing them that they have won a $1000 dollar gift certificate or gift card from Walmart or another major retailer like Target, Kohl's, Starbucks, etc. If you respond to this offer, the thief will try to get you to disclose personal information so they can steal you identity or money from your checking account or your credit card number. They might ask for a small handling fee to cover the cost of sending the gift certificate or gift card. This is just a ploy to get the victim's checking account number so they can empty it. Another version of the gift card scam is to ask the victim to show up at the store at a specific time to get their gift card and, while the victims are at the store, the thieves will burglarize their homes. All of the offers for gift cards are bogus. Ask yourself, "Why would Walmart want to give me $1000?".
A second gift card scam occurs in retail establishments were racks of gift cards are sold. Thieves take the gift cards (and anyone can take a card and walk out with it) and scan the code embedded under the magnetic strip with a portable scanner. They then put the gift card back on the rack in the store and check the toll-free numbers regularly to see if the gift card has been activated and for how much. If they catch a card newly activated, they spend the money loaded on the gift card before the true owner has a chance to use it. Never buy a gift card that is on a rack where anyone can access it.
Lower Your Credit Card Bill
Dishonest companies claim they have the ability to lower your credit card interest rate if you give them personal information, such as your SSN and your credit card account number. They are really after your credit card account number so that they can charge up your credit card.
Victims of this scam are sent an email that looks like an official IRS email, claiming that they are owed a refund, or must pay more in taxes, etc.. The thief asks for the victim's credit card number and other sensitive financial information. The thief might ask for a social security number and then file a false return and receive a fat refund in the victim's name before the victim files his legitimate tax return. The IRS wants the public to know that they never, never, ever initiate contact with a taxpayer by email or text message. The IRS will contact you through regular mail if they need to. You can verify that an IRS communication is valid by calling 1-800-829-1040. Another version of this scam involves stealing mail around the first of the year when employer W-2 forms, 1099s, interest earned statements, etc. are sent out via the mail. Theft of mail increases significantly in January and February. Again, thieves want to get your social security number so they can try to file a false tax return using your name before you do.