A scam is nothing more than a dishonest way to get money from a person. The current economic climate lends itself to an increase in scams. Unfortunately, scams are constantly changing and evolving which makes it increasingly difficult for detection and apprehension. Below is a small sampling of commonly observed scams.
Tax related scams are extremely popular and are often recognized well after the fact. Remember — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you know of a tax fraud, you can report it to the IRS by sending completed Form 3949-A, Information Referral, to Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. You can download the form or call 1-800-829-3676 to order by mail.
While it is hard to investigate phone scams, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They will track complaints from consumers that will help detect patters of fraud or abuse.
Visit https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/ and click on the “OTHER” tab on the right side to report a phone scam.
How the Scam works:
- A Spanish- or English-speaking individual pretending to be a PSE&G employee calls customers saying their service would be disconnected if they do not make a payment using a prepaid debit card. In some cases, the call is prerecorded.
- Customers are told to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak at a pharmacy or convenience store, use cash to put money onto the card, and then provide the number on the card to the person who called them.
- Customers are advised that if they do not immediately call back and provide the MoneyPak information, their service will be turned off that day.
- Typically, after the customer provides that MoneyPak number, the scammer transfers the funds to a prepaid card, and cashes it in at an ATM.
How to Prevent the Scam:
- Know the direct telephone number and address of your local PSE&G Customer Service Center.
- Know that when PSE&G makes an outbound telephone call to customers, customer-specific information is shared with the customer. That information includes account name, address, number and current balance.
- If customers do not receive this correct information, they likely are not speaking with a bonafide PSE&G representative.
What to do if you receive such a call:
- Try to verify the validity of the number the scammer is calling from and record the number of the scammer.
- Try to verify the authenticity of the caller of the scam.
- Disconnect the call immediately after attempting to verify this information.
- Immediately check your recent PSE&G bill and find out when it was last paid.
- If you cannot determine when your last PSE&G bill was paid, contact PSE&G directly at 1.800.436.7734 or visit a local PSE&G Customer Service Center. Service Centers are open Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM with locations listed on customer bills and on-line at: http://www/pseg.com/centers.
- Subsequent to this, notify us at 201-41-6400
Phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money. Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your computer.
A Phishing email may include:
Spelling and bad grammar.
Cybercriminals are not known for their grammar and spelling. Professional companies or organizations usually have a staff of copy editors that will not allow a mass email like this to go out to its users. If you notice mistakes in an email, it might be a scam.
Beware of links in email.
If you see a link in a suspicious email message, don’t click on it. Rest your mouse (but don’t click) on the link to see if the address matches the link that was typed in the message.
Have you ever received a threat that your Hotmail account would be closed if you didn’t respond to an email message? The email message shown above is an example of the same trick
Spoofing popular websites or companies.
Scam artists use graphics in email that appear to be connected to legitimate websites but actually take you to phony scam sites or legitimate-looking pop-up windows.
Phishing Phone Calls may be similar to:
• Call from collection agency
• They tell you that you owe an outstanding balance
• They want to collect the money by using a credit card over the phone
• They may threaten legal action
• They refuse to tell you who you actually owe the money to.
If you receive a phone call like this do not give them any type of information, not even your name and address. If this person was from an actual collection agency they should already know all this. Tell them that you would like some sort of documentation mailed to you regarding the alleged debt. Most of the time they will refuse to do this and may finally hang up on you knowing that you will not succumb to their threats.
Some people may even pose as a non-profit organization seeking donations for charity. This also includes phone calls that say they are collecting donations for the Ridgefield Park Police Department. You can be sure that no one will ever call on the phone for a donation to the police department.
Secret Shopper Scam:
There are many online offerings for secret shopper scams. People should be weary of anything that looks too good to be true. In a secret shopper scam, the scammer my send you a counterfeit money order or a cashier’s check that you are told to go and cash. They then tell you to wire a majority of the funds via Western Union or MoneyGram. You are then allowed to keep the rest of the money to go shopping with. By the time the check is found to be counterfeit you would have probably have already wired the money. You are then held responsible for the check that you cashed.