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Recent Fraud & Scam Alerts

2019


IRS: Tax Scams Continue Year-round

June 5, 2019 – Although the April filing deadline has passed, scam artists remain hard at work, and the Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to be on the lookout for a spring surge of evolving phishing emails and telephone scams.

The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages. In many variations of the phone scam, victims are told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.

The IRS does not use text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-reminder-tax-scams-continue-year-round external link


Ohio AG Warns of Severe Weather Scammers

May 29, 2019 – Attorney General Dave Yost is urging Ohioans to watch out for home repair scammers and fake charities after powerful storms caused major damage to homes and businesses in western Ohio earlier this week.

Unscrupulous, storm-chasing contractors may ask for a large down payment or tell consumers to sign over their insurance checks, but ultimately they perform shoddy work or no work at all.

Avoid Home Repair Scams:

  • Research the business.
  • Get multiple written estimates.
  • Don’t make large payments in advance.
  • Get a detailed written contract.
  • Understand your cancellation rights.

Source: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/May-2019/AG-Yost-Warns-of-Scammers-Who-Profit-Off-of-Severe external link


FCC Warns of “One Ring” Phone Scam

May 2, 2019 – The Federal Communications Commission is warning consumers of a one-ring calls that appear to be from phone numbers somewhere in the United States, including three initial digits that resemble U.S. area codes, but are actually international numbers from regions that also begin with three-digit codes. If you call such number, you risk being connected to a phone number outside the United States. As a result, you may wind up being charged a fee for connecting, along with significant per-minute fees for as long as they can keep you on the phone.

How to Avoid One-Ring Phone Scams:

  • Don’t answer or return any calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • Before calling unfamiliar numbers, check to see if the area code is international.
  • If you do not make international calls, ask your phone company to block outgoing international calls on your line.
  • Always be cautious, even if a number appears authentic.

Source: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/one-ring-phone-scam external link


FBI IC3 Warns of Chinese Embassy Scam

March 28, 2019 – The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received multiple complaints from victims who were contacted via phone, text or other chat application by individuals speaking a Chinese dialect and claiming to be from the Chinese embassy or consulate.

Victims may be first told that a suspicious document, package, or person was found or detained, usually at an airport located in China. The person on the phone claims the victim’s passport, social security card, or credit card was found to be in the package or on the suspicious person. Victims are then told they are under investigation and, in order to assist Chinese law enforcement, they must speak to an investigator. The “investigators” advise victims they must wire funds to accounts located in China or Hong Kong to resolve the situation or may request payment via credit card or virtual currency.

The Chinese embassy or consulate will not contact you by phone for personal information, parcel pick-up, bank account information, or to answer inquiries from local Chinese law enforcement.

Source: https://www.ic3.gov/media/2019/190328.aspx external link


IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Using Taxpayer Advocate Service Numbers

March 15, 2019 – The Internal Revenue Service today warned the public about a new twist on the IRS impersonation phone scam whereby criminals fake calls from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS.

Similar to other IRS impersonation scams, thieves make unsolicited phone calls to their intended victims fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS. In this most recent scam variation, callers “spoof” the telephone number of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service office in Houston or Brooklyn. Calls may be ‘robo-calls’ that request a call back. Once the taxpayer returns the call, the con artist requests personal information, including Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-warns-of-new-phone-scam-using-taxpayer-advocate-service-numbers external link


Lorain County Sheriff Issues Scam Alert

February 7, 2019 – Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti is alerting the citizens of Lorain County to a telephone scam.

The caller identifies himself as a Deputy Sheriff and claims to be working on a federal case. He claims if you do not comply with his request, warrants will be issued for your arrest. The caller asks for personal information (including social security number) and may ask you to purchase gift cards. He even provides a call back number that claims to be sheriff’s office.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/139126229483698/photos/a.321272504602402/2239828762746757/ external link


Tips for Avoiding Tax Scams

January 31, 2019 – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is urging Ohioans to watch out for scammers this tax season and to protect their personal information and refund dollars.

Tips for Avoiding Tax Scams:

  • File your taxes as soon as possible.
  • Choose a reputable tax preparer.
  • Protect your personal information.
  • Carefully consider the costs of any “fast” refunds.
  • Use any refund wisely.

Source: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/January-2019/Ohio-Attorney-General-Dave-Yost-Offers-Tips-for-Av external link


2018


Holiday Shopping Tips for Consumers

November 16, 2018 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered consumer protection tips for the holiday shopping season.

Tips for consumers include:

  • Beware of scams.
  • Check refund policies before you buy.
  • Research sellers carefully.
  • Look for exclusions and limitations in ads.
  • Understand differences among gift cards.
  • Keep cybersecurity in mind.
  • Consider paying with a credit card, if possible.

Source: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/November-2018/Attorney-General-DeWine-Offers-Holiday-Shopping-Ti external link


Social Security Warns of a “Spoofing” Scam

October 22, 2018 – Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about an ongoing caller-ID “spoofing” scheme misusing the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) national customer service phone number. SSA has received numerous reports of questionable phone calls displaying SSA’s 1-800 number on a caller-ID screen.

This is a scam; citizens should not engage with those calls or provide any personal information. SSA employees do not contact citizens by telephone for customer-service purposes. SSA employees will never threaten you for information or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. The call is fraudulent, and you should hang up.

Source: https://blog.ssa.gov/inspector-general-warns-public-about-caller-id-spoofing-scheme-misusing-ssa-customer-service-number/ external link


Ohio AG Offers Charitable Giving Tips Following Hurricane Florence

September 17, 2018 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered recommendations to help Ohioans make wise charitable contributions and avoid scams related to the flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Florence.

Signs of a potential charity scam include:

  • High-pressure tactics.
  • No details about how your donation will be used.
  • Refusal to provide written information about the charity.
  • Organizations with names that sound similar to other better-known organizations.
  • Requests for donations made payable to a person instead of a charity.
    Offers to pick up donations immediately versus in the mail or online.

Source: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/September-2018/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Grandparent-Scams external link


Ohio AG Warns of Grandparent Scams

September 7, 2018 – Ahead of National Grandparents Day this Sunday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning families to beware of the “grandparent scam,” which has been reported by dozens of Ohioans in recent weeks.

The scam begins when a grandparent receives a call claiming the person’s grandchild is in trouble and in urgent need of money. The caller may claim the grandchild was in a car accident, caught with drugs, or put in jail, for example. The grandparent is asked to send money immediately, supposedly to pay a fine, attorney’s fees, or other costs.

Tips to avoid the grandparent scam:

  • Communicate with your family members.
  • Limit the amount of information you share online.
  • Be wary of unusual payment requests.

Source: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/September-2018/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Grandparent-Scams external link


Rocky River PD Says Residents Receiving IRS Scam Calls

July 25, 2018 – The Rocky River Police Department is warning that numerous residents have reported receiving automated calls from an IRS scam.

Remember, the IRS will not call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you without first mailing you a bill if you owe taxes. They will not threaten you with arrest or ask for payment over the phone. They will NEVER ask to be paid by gift cards.

Source: https://local.nixle.com/alert/6705276/ external link


Ohio Attorney General Warns of Summer Scams

June 13, 2018 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned consumers to beware of seasonal scams, including home improvement fraud and travel-related schemes.

During summer months, consumers should beware of scams including:

  • Storm-chaser scams
  • Rental scams
  • Utility shut-off scams
  • Closing-cost scams
  • Driveway paving scams

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/June-2018/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Summer-Scams external link


More Tax Scams Reported as Filing Deadline Nears

April 4, 2018 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned that more consumers are reporting tax scams ahead of the April 17 tax-filing deadline. Among the tax scams reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the IRS impostor phone scam is the most common. In this scam, people generally get a call saying the federal government is taking action against them for tax problems and they must call back immediately (and eventually pay) to resolve the problem.

Tips to avoid the scams include:

  • Don’t trust threatening callers.
  • Avoid making payments over the phone.
  • Don’t respond to illegal robocalls in any way.
  • Don’t always trust caller ID because scammers may “spoof” a phone number, making the number on your caller ID appear to be from the IRS, even when it’s not.
  • Check into call-blocking options.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/April-2018/More-Tax-Scams-Reported-as-Filing-Deadline-Nears external link


Ohio AG Warns of Puppy Scams

March 22, 2018 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers to beware of online puppy scams, which cost victims about $1,000 on average according to dozens of complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/March-2018/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Puppy-Scams external link


IRS Warns of Scam Involving Erroneous Refunds and Fake Collection Calls

February 13, 2018 – The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts. The IRS also offered a step-by-step explanation for how to return the funds and avoid being scammed.

After stealing client data from tax professionals and filing fraudulent tax returns, criminals use the taxpayers’ real bank accounts for the deposit. Thieves are then using various tactics to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers, and their versions of the scam may continue to evolve.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/scam-alert-irs-urges-taxpayers-to-watch-out-for-erroneous-refunds-beware-of-fake-calls-to-return-money-to-a-collection-agency external link


Ohio Attorney General Warns of Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams

January 5, 2018 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers to beware of phony calls and letters saying they’ve won millions of dollars. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received several reports of the scams.

Tips to avoid sweepstakes and lottery scams include:

  • Don’t send money to receive a prize.
  • Be wary of requests for wire transfers, money orders, or gift cards.
  • Talk to friends and family about scams.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/January-2018/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Sweepstakes-and-L external link


2017


Ohio Attorney General Warns of Grant Scams

December 13, 2017 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned Ohioans to beware of phony offers for federal grants. In recent weeks, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received dozens of reports of grant scams from people across Ohio.

To avoid grant scams, don’t pay up front to receive a grant you never applied for and remember that true government grants are typically awarded to organizations.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/December-2017/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Grant-Scams external link


Lorain County Sheriff Issues Scam Alert

November 29, 2017 – Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti would like to make the citizens of Lorain County aware of telephone scams.

The subject identifies himself as Deputy Sheriff and calls residences of Lorain County advising them they have failed to appear to appear for Jury Duty, and is issuing a warrant for their arrest. In lieu of arrest, the subject advised them they can pay the fine by purchasing gift cards.

Source: http://www.loraincountysheriff.com/Data/Files/Press%20release%20Scam.pdf external link


Ohio Attorney General Warns of Storm-Chaser Scams

November 6, 2017 – Following the severe weather that affected Ohio this weekend, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is warning consumers to beware of scams.

Storm-chasing contractors travel to affected communities to offer services to homeowners who experience damage, such as downed trees or roof damage. Unscrupulous contractors may ask for a large down payment, or tell consumers to sign over their insurance checks, but ultimately they perform shoddy work or no work at all.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/November-2017/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Storm-Chaser-Scam external link


FTC Warns of Charity Scams Following Las Vegas Shooting

October 10, 2017 – The Federal Trade Commission has heard from people about suspicious requests for donations. A little research will help you avoid a scam and ensure that your gift goes to a reputable charity that will use the money as you intend.

Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/10/give-wisely-help-shooting-victims external link


Ohio Attorney General Offers Consumer Tips Following Equifax Breach Announcement

September 8, 2017 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered tips for consumers following the recent announcement by Equifax, one of the country’s three main credit reporting bureaus, of a data breach affecting some 143 million United States consumers. Equifax has reported that the information was compromised between May and July of this year and includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/September-2017/Attorney-General-DeWine-Offers-Consumer-Tips-Follo external link


Ohio Attorney General Offers Charitable Giving Tips Following Hurricane Harvey, Texas Flooding

August 28, 2017 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today offered advice to help Ohioans make wise charitable contributions and avoid scams following the catastrophic flooding in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“We encourage people to be generous in helping those affected by the devastating floods in Texas,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We also encourage people to make sure their donations go to legitimate causes, not scammers.”

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/August-2017/Attorney-General-DeWine-Offers-Charitable-Giving-T external link


Do Not Use Federal Reserve Routing Account Numbers to Pay Bills

July 14, 2017 – The Federal Reserve Banks have received a number of unauthorized transactions in which consumers have tried to use the Fed’s routing numbers and their Social Security numbers to pay their bills. Any video, text, email, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how to pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number, or using an account at a Federal Reserve Bank, is a scam.

Source: https://clevelandfed.org/en/newsroom-and-events/press-releases/2017/pr-20170714-consumer-scam-alert.aspx external link


Following Severe Weather, Attorney General Warns Consumers to Beware of Scams

July 14, 2017 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned consumers to beware of scams following the severe weather that hit Ohio this week. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has pursued dozens of cases involving home improvement services that were never provided as promised, including cases against “storm-chasing” contractors who contacted consumers at their homes, took large down payments, and left without completing the promised work.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/July-2017/Following-Severe-Weather-Attorney-General-DeWine external link


IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Involving Bogus Certified Letters

June 15, 2017 – The Internal Revenue Service is warning people to beware of a new scam in which the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-warns-of-new-phone-scam-involving-bogus-certified-letters-reminds-people-to-remain-vigilant-against-scams-schemes-this-summer external link


Lorain County Sheriff’s Office Issues Scam Alert

May 2, 2017 – The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office is warning of a telephone scam received by county residents in which the caller identifies himself as a deputy sheriff and states he is issuing a warrant for their arrest. The victim is then told they can avoid arrest by paying a fine with a money/gift card. The sheriff’s office does not contact the public regarding warrants over the telephone.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/139126229483698/photos/a.321272504602402.79207.139126229483698/1473016152761359/?type=1&theater external link


NCUA Warns of Fake Check Scams

Apr. 10, 2017 – Consumers should be on the lookout for fake check scams, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) warned today after receiving numerous inquiries from consumers. Scammers lure consumers into depositing a cashier’s check, money order, or other checking instrument from someone that they don’t know and wiring or sending money to the scammers.

Source: https://www.ncua.gov/newsroom/Pages/news-2017-april-check-scams.aspx external link


Identity Theft Remains on “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams

Feb. 3, 2017 – The Internal Revenue Service issued a filing season alert warning taxpayers and tax professionals to watch out for identity theft at tax time and highlighted the crime as a top scam in the agency’s “Dirty Dozen” series.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/identity-theft-remains-on-dirty-dozen-list-of-tax-scams-irs-states-tax-industry-urge-people-to-be-vigilant-against-criminals external link


Attorney General Warns of “Can You Hear Me” Calls Reported in Ohio

Jan. 30, 2017 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned that several Ohioans have reported suspicious calls from callers asking “Can you hear me?” Similar calls have been reported throughout the country as part of an alleged scam to trick consumers into responding “Yes” and using their response to place unauthorized charges on their phone or utility bill.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/January-2017/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Can-You-Hear-Me” external link


2016


IRS Warns Taxpayers of Numerous Tax Scams Nationwide

Dec. 8, 2016 – As tax season approaches, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers to be on the lookout for an array of evolving tax scams related to identity theft and refund fraud. Every tax season, there is an increase in schemes that target innocent taxpayers by email, by phone and online.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-warns-taxpayers-of-numerous-tax-scams-nationwide-and-provides-summary-of-most-recent-schemes external link


Ohio Attorney General Warns of Holiday Scams

Nov. 18, 2016 – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned consumers of scams to avoid this holiday season. Scams to avoid this holiday season include: seasonal job scams, package delivery scams, advance-fee loan scams, online shopping scams, and charity scams.

Source: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/November-2016/Attorney-General-DeWine-Warns-of-Holiday-Scams external link


IRS Warns of Fake Tax Bills

Sept. 22, 2016 – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued an alert to taxpayers and tax professionals to be on guard against fake emails purporting to contain an IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act. The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. Generally, the scam involves an email that includes the fake notice as an attachment. A real CP2000 notice is never sent as part of an email to taxpayers.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/uac/irs-and-security-summit-partners-warn-of-fake-tax-bill-emails external link


NCUA Warns of Text Phishing Scam

Aug. 23, 2016 – The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has received consumer calls about a suspicious text message claiming to come from the agency. The message reads: “National Credit Union Administration Alert for (recipient’s phone number). Contact 844-234-5445.”

This is not a communication from NCUA. The agency does not seek personal information through the internet or on the telephone.

Source: https://www.ncua.gov/newsroom/Pages/NCUA-Warns-of-Text-Phishing-Scam.aspx external link