Scams scammers and fraudsters; many of us have suffered financial losses in one way or another to the unscrupulous. In this article I am going to show you how to avoid common scams using patience and your trusted relationships.
Patience is a virtueCato the Elder
In any scam, the scammer usually projects a sense of urgency, often times presenting a threatening situation that you must immediately respond to or suffer undesirable consequences. Your delaying action coupled with the involvement of a key relationship may help you thwart a rip off.
In addition, if you have a serious financial or legal problem, you are already well aware of it.Eric Ten Broeck, MBA
If you are not certain about the nature of the matter or the person(s) contacting you, delay a response. If someone or something in your world is truly wrong, then chances are, more then one person will be trying to contact you. In addition, if you have a serious financial or legal problem, you are already well aware of it.
In your financial life your key relationships are with your accountant, banker, lawyer, and financial advisor. Here, I am highlighting banking relationships. Scammers often find a way to put you off guard by creating a sense of urgency or by inducing a mindset of fear.
Phishing and Banking Scams
Lets start with your banking relationship. Many people are moving to banks that only do business online. I am not in favor of these. I am not suggesting that online only banks are financially unsound. However there is no one you can see face to face and start a relationship with. My recommendation is ask around to find a bank that has a local presence with and staff that has longevity. If your bank fits that description, great!
Introduce yourself to the branch manager
The next step is to introduce yourself to the branch manager and get his or her business card. Take a picture of the card, and enter the information in your contacts. Make sure the manager’s email is in you email contacts. You can even send a short email saying “Dear Ms. Smith it was nice to meet you today at the Mulberry Street branch located in Scranton, Pennsylvania.” Lastly, try to do walk in business and say hello to the manager and key staff.
How does your banking relationship help you with scams? Lets take the email phishing scams that look like you are being contacted by your bank urging you to take action. How do you respond? Take a moment and ask is this truly my bank contacting me about misplaced funds or unauthorized transfers?
First, if the email looks bogus or fake delete it without opening it. Then call your banker and see if there is an issue. Secondly, you can always ask a legitimate person to resend an email. Therefore, if you think it may be an issue in need of your attention; here is a suggested email response.
“Dear _____, thank you for your email, I am not familiar with this situation, I am copying Ms. Smith, Branch Manager of XYZ Bank by this email to see if she can help us investigate this matter. Can you please give me your address, phone number and normal business hours so that we may properly and timely respond this matter?”Your email reply to a phishing scam
Remember, you have the Bank Manager’s information at your disposal because you have already sent the Bank Manager a follow-up an email. I also recommend not logging into your bank until your bank has had a chance to reply and you are certain this matter has been resolved.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams
This where your relationship with your accountant comes in handy. These scams originate as phone calls and or emails. Scammers claim to IRS Agents. They claim you have unpaid taxes and threaten severe penalties an/or enforcement actions. And some of these calls appear to originate from the Washington D.C. (202) xxx-xxxx area code. Then they instruct you to make a bank or credit card payment to satisfy your IRS debt.
How to bust the IRS scam – Firstly, the IRS never emails taxpayers, they rarely if ever call by phone. If you have an issue with the IRS, you will receive a letter from them. That letter will explain any deficiency, give you a time period in which to reply and provide a phone number by which to contact the IRS. If you really have a severe problem they may show up at your place of business. But the agents will properly identify themselves and clearly identify the matter they are there for. Also, if you truly have an issue with the IRS, chances are you are already well aware of it.
Remember, people are rarely imprisoned over income tax matters. And if they are it is after a lengthy investigation, prosecution and conviction taking months if not years.
Here is what you do when you are contacted by persons claiming to by IRS agents.
Scammer: “Sir/Madam we are going to seize your bank account and initiate enforcement activity against you if you do not pay now.”
You: After taking a moment to think about this call you reply:
“Thank you for your call Mr. IRS Agent, my accountant handles these matters for me. Can I have your number and he/she/they will call you back as soon as he has a chance? And can I please have your badge number so I can write it down?”
Your accountant, if he or she is a CPA and/or Enrolled Agent, has priority access to the IRS. It may take them a few days to reach the IRS by phone, but once in touch they can find out if you have any legitimate problems. Remember there is a lengthy process the IRS has to undertake before your assets are seized and/or you are put in any kind of legal jeopardy, your patience will pay off.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes