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Avoid these scams!

20140911_3scams_blogEvery day, it seems like we hear about new scams preying on innocent consumers.  Here are 3 of the nastiest you need to avoid:

1.) Tech support Scam:

A representative calls claiming to be from Apple or Microsoft tech support.  They tell you that your computer has been infected with a virus or malware, and then ask for a username and password to fix the problem remotely (or tell you to visit a “repair” site).  But instead of fixing the problem, they install dangerous malware onto your computer, which can then steal your personal data.

Protect yourself: Beware of unsolicited tech support calls.  It is highly unlikely that  technical support will call you out of the blue, without you first contacting them.  And never give out passwords or personal information (including credit card numbers) over the phone.

2.) E-ZPass Scam

In this scam, you receive an official-looking email from E-ZPass,  the electronic toll collection agency used in Illinois and other places across the country (the email often includes the E-ZPass purple and white logo).  The email directs you to click the link to access your invoice.  But the link actually connects to scammers who can put malware on your computer.

Protect yourself:  If you get an E-ZPass email and are unsure if it’s legitimate, contact your state’s E-ZPass customer service department to confirm it.  Also, be wary of clicking any links that come to you through email.  A safer way is to go directly to a company’s site on your web browser, instead of opening links in an email.

3.) The IRS Phone Call Scam

This is one of the scariest scams out there. IRS impostors say you need to pay taxes or face a severe penalty–fines, revocation of your driver’s license, even jail time.  The callers often use fake names and badge numbers, and they game Caller-ID so it looks like the call is actually coming from the IRS. They may also have scammed access to the last 4 digits of your Social Security number to make the call seem even more authentic. Unsuspecting victims then pay up on the fraudulent fees, and scammers walk away with your money or credit card information!

Protect yourself: The IRS will never call out of the blue without first sending official correspondence through the regular mail.  In fact, the IRS never commits this type of phone call at all–so if you hear it, hang up.  Report  any incidents to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

Stay safe out there, Illinois!