We have talked a lot about it this year – SCAMS – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. With tax season upon us, we remind you to continue to be vigilant with your personal information, tax information, and financial information. We have identified some of the most prevalent scams currently making their way through larger cities and have highlighted a few:

Tax Information Scam

Taxpayers receive a formal-looking letter from the Bureau of Tax Enforcement requiring immediate payment due to errors on your tax return. Keep in mind, the Bureau of Tax Enforcement does NOT exist. A real letter from the IRS will include an official seal, a notice or letter number in the top-right corner, and a clear statement about your rights as a taxpayer. When in doubt, call the IRS to confirm what you have received is legitimate.

Job Search Scams

If you have applied to, and been accepted for a job recently, but receive a check prior to any work being completed, be suspicious. Most likely, a follow-up letter is on the way informing you they overpaid you, with a request to send the payment overage in the form of gifts cards, wires, western union, or money gram. The check is probably counterfeit, so do not attempt to use it for transactions in any of the methods mentioned. You would be responsible for the full amount of the check if or when it returns as fraudulent. Real companies with legitimate job offers would not operate in this manner.

Mystery Shopper Scams

While these follow the same setup as the job search scams explained above, the mystery shopper scam incentivizes you to act quickly by offering an additional cash bonus to complete the task within 24 hours or less. You will be sent a fraudulent check to put into your financial institution account, with further instructions to go buy thousands of dollars in gift cards at specific stores. With gift cards in hand, the instructions ask you to scratch off the back of the cards to reveal the codes, with a phone number to send photos of those cards too. In the meantime, and unbeknownst to you, the check you placed in your account is being flagged as fraudulent at your financial institution. You are now responsible for the bounced check and the money spent on gift cards, which you have just shared with the scammer.

Sweepstakes Check Scam

Have you ever received mail with the words WINNER across the envelope? This scam claims you have won, or are about to win, a large cash prize. They ask you to provide your financial institution account information in order to claim your “prize”. DO NOT play along, and do not give them access to your account information. Once they have access, your money and your identity are at risk for theft.

Online Sales Scam

Have you ever bought or sold anything online? If you receive a check in the mail for your online item OVER your asking or sales price, this is a red flag. Ask yourself some questions before depositing this check: why would they pay over asking price? Can they pay in cash instead of by check? In most instances, the check is fake. Do not send the item until you have successfully deposited payment, otherwise you will be out your money and your item for sale.

If You Have Questions, Contact US

Remember, it is always OK to question something. And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call or visit US and share your concerns about whatever situation you may find yourself in. You can find all of our contact info HERE. We are here to help and will gladly answer any questions or verify any payments to help keep your information, identity, and finances safe and protected.