As usual, there are scammers out there working the phones. Two common scams going on now are the Publisher’s Clearinghouse scam and an Internal Revenue Service scam.
You may have entered a sweepstakes with Publisher’s Clearinghouse, which is a real and reputable business. If you did, good luck. If you win, THEY WILL NOT CONTACT YOU BY TELEPHONE to tell you, and they certainly won’t ask for money in order to deliver your prize.
I got a call yesterday by a man claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearinghouse. He gave me a reference number and a phone number to call to verify that I had won. I wrote down these numbers, and I called the Oregon Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392. The nice man at the Attorney General’s office said that he had, just that morning, three calls relating to the Publisher’s Clearinghouse scam, and two IRS calls.
If I had called the number the caller had given me, they would have asked me for money to cover the cost of delivering my prize. (They said I won $8 million and a Mercedes Benz; I’m not holding my breath.)
The IRS scam is particularly pernicious. They claim to be from the IRS, and they assert that you owe taxes. People are scared of the IRS, and apparently about 1 in 100 people called falls for this one, and pays an average of $1,000.
If you owe tax (and I hope you don’t, but you might) the IRS WILL NOT CONTACT YOU BY TELEPHONE. You’ll get a letter. I promise.
So, if somebody calls you claiming to be from the IRS, or Publisher’s Clearinghouse, take down the phone number from your caller ID, and write down any phone number they ask you to call. DO NOT GIVE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION, DO NOT GIVE ANY BANK INFORMATION, AND NEVER, NEVER GIVE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER TO SOMEONE WHO HAS CALLED YOU. Call the Attorney General’s office at the number shown above and report the call. On the Attorney General’s consumer protection web page, there’s a button to join their Scam Alert Network. Stay informed about all the new ways scammers are working to steal your money.
If you get any telephone call purporting to be from a business or organization that you deal with, don’t give out personal information in that call. Call the organization back, using a phone number that is shown on their billing or other correspondence they have sent you. When in doubt about who you’re talking to, don’t do business on the phone. Any reputable business will understand that you are concerned about your personal information.