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A fresh crop of spring scams to avoid

Warmer weather, longer days, blooming flowers… it can only mean one thing: spring is officially here! Unfortunately, the seasonal changes aren’t all positive.

Ever-sneaky, scammers are taking advantage of recent events and trends to try and steal your personal information. Here are some relatively new scams you should avoid:

IRS phone scam
With tax day behind us, the IRS has hired four collection agencies to help retrieve overdue taxes from consumers. But how do you know if you’re being contacted by a legit company or a fraudster?

First of all, you won’t be notified unless the IRS has already tried to connect with you on multiple occasions, according to the federal agency. Next, your taxes need to be several years old for a collection company to call you. If you’re not sure what you owe, or if you moved and possibly missed the IRS’s letters, authorized collectors will not:

Call to demand payment through a prepaid card, gift card, or wire transfer
Threaten to have you arrested
Ask for bank or credit card info over the phone
However, collection agencies can facilitate payment by check or online to the IRS. Never pay an individual or unfamiliar company.

To view the status of your debt, check the IRS’s official website.

Travel turmoil
With agreeable weather and lower rates, spring is a popular time to travel. Unfortunately that means more people are vulnerable to unique vacation scams.

Staying in a hotel soon? Beware the front desk scam. This occurs after you check in and move to your room. A few minutes later, you receive a call from (allegedly) the front desk asking you to repeat your credit card number; it was written down wrong. In reality, the call comes from a fraudster who was hanging out near the front desk when you checked in.

Pro tip: never give out your credit card info over the phone if you can’t verify the identity of the person on the other end of the line. And no matter where you travel, always be aware of your surroundings.

Facebook ‘farming’
At some point, you’ve probably seen a Facebook post about a kid with a rare disease or a sick animal. They’re accompanied by heart-wrenching photos that basically dare you not to react to or share the post.

Here’s the problem: not only are these posts bogus, the people behind them monitor who reacts to them. Once you click “like”, your profile is flagged as someone who might be an easy target for a scam, and farmed out to fraudsters. You may receive follow up messaging asking for additional personal information (perhaps in the guise of helping more vulnerable children).

Bottom line? Be careful about the content you interact with on social media. When in doubt, just keep scrolling.

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