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In this workshop, you’ll learn how to detect and protect yourself from scams. You can listen to it here. Continue scrolling to read as well.

Lesson 3: How to protect yourself from a scam

Now that you know how to spot a scam, let’s go over how to recognize two common ones – IRS impersonation and COVID-19 phishing scams – and how to take action when faced with them.

In recent years one of the most commonly reported types of fraud has been IRS impostors.

But you can spot and avoid this scam by understanding how the real IRS interacts with taxpayers. The IRS will never call you to demand immediate payment or to ask for a credit or debit card over the phone. The IRS will also never threaten to have you arrested or require you to make payments with prepaid debit or gift cards.

In fact, if the IRS needs to contact you about your tax return, it will first send you a letter in the mail. If you don’t respond to the letter, you may receive a phone call, but the IRS always sends letters to taxpayers first so you know the reason for the call. Finally, the IRS will never demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount it claims you owe.

Additionally, in the era of COVID-19, the Justice Department has shut down hundreds of suspicious websites, many with terms such as “coronavirus” and “COVID19” in the domain name, that promise vaccines and other aid.

These bogus sites may mimic government agencies or humanitarian organizations. If you click a link to visit the fake site, you may end up with malicious software on your device that seeks information like usernames and passwords to accounts. At the very least, it will open you up to more incoming phishing messages.

  • Step 1

    Don’t give out your personal information with someone who contacts you. Scammers often present themselves as people you know or trust, but you shouldn’t share this valuable information with someone you didn’t initiate contact with.

  • Step 2

    Pay attention to the language used — scammers will often use suspicious and confusing speech.

  • Step 3

    Set alerts on your financial accounts to be contacted when transactions occur, and regularly review your accounts for potential fraud.

  • Step 4

    Take time to check the story. Scammers try to pressure you into doing something quickly. Slow down, take a minute to think things through, and talk to someone about it. Even just telling a friend can help you spot a scam.

  • Step 5

    Above all, always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel quite right, or it seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

Now that you’ve learned how to protect yourself from IRS impostors and COVID-19 phishing scams, test yourself. Take the three-question quiz at the bottom of the webpage. Once you’ve answered and clicked to get your quiz results, you’ll be ready for Lesson 4: How to Report a Scam. Just click “Next Lesson.”

Protecting Yourself From Scams

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