Spring is here and so are seasonal scammers. Two things to watch out for this month are people who show up at your doorstep offering to put down mulch or inspect your roof and tax scams. One recent caller to COA reported a mulch truck following her as she walked in her neighborhood and asking if she needed mulch. He came to her home, gave her a verbal price per bag, then put down the mulch. The next thing she knew, he handed her an “astronomical” bill which she refused to pay, then she had to negotiate a lower amount which she said was still too high. A similar scam involves roofers who come to your door and offer to inspect your roof, then CUT a piece and show you it’s damaged, and try to get you to pay for repairs. The guy may fake repairs, or he may just leave with your money.
You’re encouraged to NEVER let a stranger into your home, and to use your local Better Business Bureau page to check out EVERY business you do business with; BEFORE you make the deal or give them any money.
Another scam reported on the BBB website warns consumers to be wary this tax season as scammers are using new tricks to cheat you out of your money and your personal information. Scammers use emails posing as reputable tax preparation programs, accounting programs, banking organizations, and even the IRS. The emails are titled: Update, Thanks, Accepted, Invoices, Dispute, Error, Refund, Account Activity, Verify, Important, etc. Their intention is to get you to react quickly and not analyze the situation. People are also reporting calls from someone posing as an IRS agent saying “this is a final notice” and “the IRS is filing lawsuits against you.” The person then asks you to call a number to find out more about the case.
Before you react quickly, BBB advises you to look at an email address closely, and make sure it is the correct one for the business. If it directs you to another link, website, number to call, or address, check it out through another source to make sure it belongs to the right business. If all else fails, call the number directly. If you receive an email with an attachment, do not automatically open it. Run your anti-virus and make sure you have updated your computer with the latest anti-phishing updates. Use browsers that have anti-phishing security features. If there are links in the email, you should be able to hover over the link without opening it to see the web address.
Again, if it looks suspicious don’t open it. You can go to the website listed and login to your account to find updates or information without opening the email sent to you. If the link asks for your information, try going directly to the site yourself and check the address and compare it to the address asking for your information. Many scammers will use much of the correct address but there is usually a distinct difference. In any case if you have a question, don’t do it. Better safe than sorry!
Sources: Better Business Bureau
Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee
95 White Bridge Rd. Suite 114
Nashville, TN 37205
Photo: Anita Martinz from Klagenfurt, Austria