The Latest Power Play in the Utility Shutoff Scam

Once again, the nation’s most notorious cold-weather scam is red-hot, with a blizzard of warnings from utility companies about the shutoff swindle. In this years-old scheme, impostors call customers and threaten to cut off their power unless they immediately pay a bogus bill. This scam routinely soars as temperatures drop but also resurfaces during peak air-conditioning season. The initial call is scary enough, especially when you need heat or AC the most. Pretending to be a utility employee, a “live” …

Coming Soon: IRS Private Debt Collectors — and Scammers, Too?

Combine the nation’s biggest scam, the most criticized profession and a new federal mandate issued to the IRS that’s buried in a highway funding bill and what’s the result? The potential for more top-shelf trickery — and, perhaps, a well-deserved “Whaaa?” As part of the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) signed into law last month by President Obama, the IRS is now required, versus permitted, to use private collectors to help recoup owed tax debt. See Section 32102 …

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 …

My Husband, the Scam Victim

By Sally Hurme From schemes and scams to frauds and cons, when it comes to the latest tricks used to steal money and information, you name it and I’ve probably touched it or talked about it. For the past two decades, I’ve helped do consumer and financial education at AARP – covering everything from telemarketing fraud to identity theft. That’s why I was so surprised the day I came home to discover that my own husband, Art, had been a victim …

Senate Panel Holds Hearing on Scams Aimed at Seniors

By Kristin Keckeisen, Fraud Watch Network campaign manager Finally, some much-needed attention to the long-running grandparent scam. The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing on July 16th as part of an ongoing series highlighting fraud’s devastating impact on seniors. Among the witnesses: an 81-year-old Ohio resident who lost more than $7,000 to a con artist impersonating his grandson. The grandparent, or “family emergency,” con is simple – and effective. Scammers troll obituaries and social media sites to glean personal …