W.Va. AG Scam Watch – Jan. 23

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division alerted consumers to be on guard for these scams, as recent calls and reports indicate ongoing occurrences of each in the Mountain State.

IRS Scam: An impostor claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service calls the consumer and threatens his or her arrest if the consumer does not follow instructions, such as the immediate payment of back taxes or other tax-related expenses. The impostor may use common names, claim to know the last four digits of the consumer’s Social Security number and pose as their own supervisor anytime the consumer asks for management.
 
Medicare Scam: Scammers will pose as a Medicare representative or an affiliate and ask for bank account, credit card, Medicare and/or Social Security information, and in some instances seek payment for the consumer's newly issued Medicare card.

Sweepstakes: Targeted consumers unexpectedly “win” a lottery or sweepstakes, after which the caller demands they pay taxes or fees upfront in order to collect the prize. Those who send money lose it, as the impostor typically disappears and the winnings never arrive. Those receiving such a call must carefully verify any win, as legitimate sweepstakes, state lotteries and government agencies never require winners to pay money to receive their prize.

Social Security Scam: A scammer poses as a Social Security Administration representative and tells consumers their benefits have been underpaid and need adjustment. The impostor will ask for bank routing and account numbers to finalize the transaction, however providing that information or other sensitive data will enhance the consumer’s risk for identity theft.
 
Call Spoofing: Scammers often use spoofing technology to represent themselves as a local caller and hide their true point of origin, whether that is from another state or country. Such deception can make it appear that the incoming call is coming from a legitimate source, such as a well-known financial institution, business and/or government entity. Some calls may come from a computerized autodialer used to deliver a prerecorded message. Consumers should not answer calls from unrecognizable numbers.

In all instances, consumers are urged to NEVER share personally identifiable, financial and otherwise sensitive information without verifying the legitimacy of the recipient. The same goes for NEVER agreeing to send cash, wire money or provide numbers associated with a credit/debit card or bank account.
 
Anyone with questions or who believes they may have been a victim of a scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

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