Few things in life are scarier than receiving a call from the IRS, and scammers took full advantage of that fear in 2015 to commit fraud over 2,000 times.
The Better Business Bureau released numbers this month revealing the top ten scams of 2015 and tax scams involving the IRS and CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) topped the list with 2,413 reported incidents out of 10,000 total scams.
Better Business Bureau Vice President Jessica Tharp says the fact that scammers use the threat of the IRS isn’t surprising, “It certainly gets everyone’s attention; everyone listens and wants to know why the IRS is contacting them, and it’s a serious allegation for somebody to say you owe a significant amount of money and with the IRS allegedly involved, people just want to do whatever they need to do to get it taken care of.”
Debt Collections, with 835 total incidents, sweepstakes/prizes/gifts, with 811 total incidents, tech support, with 608 total incidents, and government grants, with 574 total incidents rounded out the top 5 scams of the year. Advanced fee loans, credit cards, work from home, fake check or money orders, and the lottery round out the top 10.
What’s the number one tip Tharp gives to protect yourself from a scam? Think before you act, “Anytime you get a call, email, or text claiming that you owe money or that you’ve won some money, or that you’re eligible for some amount of money, there is no harm in waiting.”
Tharp says roughly 85% of victims reporting scams to the BBB recognized them as frauds before any money was stolen, but the top ten scams still account for more than $1 million lost from those who filed with the BBB.