DON'T BE A VICTIM OF A SCAM!
My office has been made aware of several scams that are circulating in our community. Unfortunately, seniors continue to be the target of these nefarious tricks. Please read carefully the information below and share with your loved ones. No matter our ages, we can all become unwitting victims.
Scammers Continue to Pose as IRS Agents: Impostors call you directly or through a robocall, saying you owe back taxes. The caller threatens you with retribution such as: arrest, deportation, revoking your license or shutting down your business. The caller demands money, either loaded on a prepaid credit or debit card, sent by wire transfer or by you divulging your credit card information.
Remember: Legitimate IRS agents will NEVER call you on the phone or email you to demand payment or verification of personal information. The IRS will always contact you by postal mail. If you think you may owe money, make the call yourself to either the Franchise Tax Board or Internal Revenue Service. Keep in mind, too, that scammers can manipulate the Caller ID function to make it appear they are calling from legitimate agencies.
If you get this type of call, REPORT IT! Go online to report it or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.
PG&E Scam Alert: My office also learned through the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce that Coastside residents received phone calls stating they had not paid their energy bills. The callers threatened to cut off service unless they agreed to purchase cash cards from local retailers to pay the bill. Savvy consumers asked for account information but the caller could not provide it. Again, the caller threatened to cut off their service. Keep in mind that PG&E representatives will never ask for immediate payment using a prepaid cash card over the phone or in person. Click here to learn more about ongoing scams regarding PG&E. Questions about your account can be directed to the PG&E customer service number: (800) 743-5000.
Vacationers Beware: During this season of travel, the following scams have been occurring:
- Fake public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi and hotspots are often not secure. Scammers can post their own "free networks" and hijack your information. Verify you are using the authorized network offered by the hotel or airport, and that it is encrypted before you connect.
- ATMs and gas stations: These may have cameras, keypad overlays and skimming devices, to capture your information without your knowledge. Best to pay with cash.
- Late night call from the hotel front desk: You think it is the front desk calling you about a problem with your credit card, but it is really a scammer on the line. He asks you to verify your number over the phone. Remember: if there really is a problem with your credit card, they will ask you to come down to the lobby in person.
For more tips on avoiding scams, visit the following:
- Federal Trade Commission
- Senior Gateway
- San Mateo Police Department blog
- California Department of Business Oversight & SAIF (Seniors Against Investment Fraud Program)