Prep for Safe Tax Filing … and for Scammers

There’s good reason — several, actually — why Monday kicks off Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. As the tax-filing season gets under way for 2014 returns, the Internal Revenue Service faces massive budget cuts while two widespread tax scams continue. In addition to the epidemic IRS impostor scam, in which scammers pose as agents of that agency or the U.S. Treasury Department to extort supposedly “owed taxes,” there is another threat in the coming weeks: early filing of bogus tax returns to …

Weight-Loss Scams That Lighten Your Wallet (Not Your Scale)

The new calendar heralds a return to the most popular New Year’s resolution — to lose weight. Yet despite the $2.5 billion a year spent on weight-loss products and services, the only result for many is a lighter wallet. Through most of the past decade until 2011, when the Federal Trade Commission classified complaints by “product category,” more people were defrauded buying supposed “miracle” supplements and toning creams, “easy” exercise gizmos and “breakthrough” diets than any other type of products. To spot the …

Personal Scams, Not Data Breaches, Are Real Cons of 2014

While some 750 documented data breaches and the hacking of 160 million personal and business and government payment records dominated the news in 2014, the prime calling cards of scammers trying to steal your hard-earned money were intimidation and fear. Here’s how the scams work: IRS Impostor Scam: In what officials had already called “the largest scam of its kind” in March, scammers continue to pose as agents of the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department in live and automated …

Ho-Ho-Hoax: Top Seasonal Job Scams

Want to generate some extra cash these days? So do scammers pitching these hottest job hoaxes of this holiday season: Mystery Shopping: True, you can earn about $20 per shop applying for opportunities with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association or at stores, but don’t pursue unsolicited emails or phone calls promising big money as a “secret shopper.” Those are the work of scammers who send phony checks with instructions to deposit them and then wire-transfer back a portion. What happens …

6 ‘Other’ Credit Card Protections

Think you’re safer paying with cash? Not always. For instance, holiday shopping means mall pickpockets are on the prowl. Despite reports of data breaches at retailers including Target, Home Depot and others, don’t shelve your credit cards just yet. Compared with debit cards, you’ll have fewer hassles and less liability should your card be used fraudulently. For certain purchases, credit cards are better than debit cards and cash because of other, lesser-known protections. These policies vary by card type and provider, so ask about your specific coverage: Extended return policies. Many retailers …