NEW YORK, NY — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a consumer alert today for National Consumer Protection Week, reminding New Yorkers to protect themselves against recurring government “imposter” phone scams. These scams often target seniors, students, and first-generation Americans. The Attorney General’s office continues to see new versions of these scams reported by consumers. Earlier this week, the office issued the top ten consumer fraud complaints received by his office in 2015.
“Consumers should remain vigilant against unsolicited phone calls and should never provide sensitive personal information to individuals they do not know and trust,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Fraudsters never rest—I urge all New Yorkers to be aware of these common phones scams, and to follow our tips in order to protect themselves.”
Recent scams include callers posing as a representative from the Attorney General’s office, the Internal Revenue Service or as officers of the court. A sample IRS scam call be found here.
Phony A.G. Collection Scams
In the most recent version of this scam, consumers receive recorded phone calls from a caller falsely identifying himself as calling from the New York State’s Attorney General’s office. The calls often come from a 347-809-6947 FREE phone number or a number with a 646 area code. In the calls and voicemails, the consumer is told that money is owed and the issue must be resolved immediately. Other consumers have received phony debt collection notices, often as a PDF attachment to an email, on doctored “New York State Attorney General” letterhead from scam artists posing as an attorney from the office. The letters threaten criminal action and arrest if purported debts are not paid.
Phony Internal Revenue Service Collection Scams
In the IRS scam, the caller often claims to be an agent or police officer from the Internal Revenue Service calling about a past due tax balance that is owed. The caller will tell the victim that unless the debt is paid immediately, a team of officers will come to the victim’s home that day to arrest the victim or that a warrant has already been issued for their arrest. The caller may also threaten jail time, deportation, driver’s license revocation, or call repeatedly leaving “urgent” messages that becoming increasingly threatening and insulting. The scammer will also request that the “IRS Tax Warrant” be paid with a Green Dot Card Money Card, PayPal Prepaid MasterCard or Western Union MoneyGram. These scammers often use caller ID spoofing so that the victim’s caller ID box says “Internal Revenue Service” or displays the phone number of the Internal Revenue Service. Sometimes scammers already possess sensitive personal information such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers. In other cases, scammers will ask victims for personal information such as a Social Security number in order to commit identity theft.
Phony Jury Duty Scams
In the jury duty scam, consumers receive telephone calls from a caller falsely identifying himself as an officer of the court. In the calls, the scammer will claim that there is a fine for failing to show up for jury duty, and that unless the fine is paid immediately, the police will be sent to the victim’s home to make an arrest. The scammer will then request an immediate credit card payment as well as identifying personal information.
Consumers should not respond to these calls or letters. Legitimate government organizations will never threaten arrest or deportation for failure to pay a debt, and will never insist that consumers pay a debt only via a pre-paid credit card;
Do not give out personal information, including your Social Security number or bank account information to telephone callers;
If you owe money, you should receive a notice in writing that identifies the debt collection agency, the amount of the debt, and the name of the original creditor. The notice should also provide you with an opportunity to dispute the debt;
A legitimate caller will never request that a conversation remain a secret, and you should immediately be suspicious. Whether the caller claims to be from the government, a bank, or a family member, requests for confidentiality should raise a red flag
You do not have to be polite when you receive unsolicited phone calls. The safest thing to do is to say “no” and hang up.
Please contact your local county clerk if you are concerned that you have missed a jury duty summons.
Attorney General Schneiderman reminds New Yorkers that in addition to being vigilant consumers, they should also report instances of fraud to his office. Consumers are encouraged to file complaints by visiting www.ag.ny.gov or calling 1-800-771-7755.