Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Credit Card Interest Scam

Everyone wants to save money, and to think that they are making smart choices with their finances. So when an individual calls you to offer you a lower interest rate on your credit card, you’re bound to take it seriously. Unfortunately, once a scammer has your interest, you’re more like to fall for fraud.

In a recent scam report to the BBB, the caller—who claimed to be from the would-be victim’s credit card company—stated that he was eligible for a lower interest rate. All he would need to do in order to process the better rate would be to verify all of his information, including account number and Social Security number.

Fortunately, the recipient doesn’t have a credit card with that company, but even more importantly, he smelled a scam and refused to turn over his data. It’s important to remember that no one who calls you will ever need all of your information, and that anyone who contacts you and asks for sensitive information like your Social Security number is not to be trusted.

#2 – Government Grant

Just in a matter of a few days, multiple reports were made to the BBB about government grant scams. Callers who identify themselves as working for the US government to distribute free grant money are really just looking for your personal identifying information and account information in order to steal your identity and your money.

While it’s true that a lot of grant and scholarship money goes unclaimed every year, there’s a basic reason for that: because the process of applying for those funds is very involved. The government simply does not call random citizens and offer them money. No one does, and if you’re ever offered money or gifts in exchange for your information or a small application fee, hang up immediately.

#3 – Debt Collection Scam

This is a strange variation on an old scam, and it’s alarming because it’s far too easy for it to work. In this instance, a caller contacted the victim about a current debt. The caller claimed to work for a payment processing center, and stated that the debt had been sent to this company in order to work with the victim on making payments. It sounded a lot like a collections company, but somewhat friendlier.

The victim agreed to make payments since he did, in fact, owe the debt. Unfortunately, the company wasn’t real, and the debt wasn’t actually paid off. The victim paid the full amount of the debt (broken up into two payments), but now he still owes that amount to the original debtor.

Remember, you will never have to make payment in any way to someone who calls you over the phone or emails you. You may be sent reminder notices or receive reminder phone calls, but all legitimate payments will be initiated via a paper bill; follow up messages are fine, only after the original debt has been stated in writing with complete company information and account numbers. If you’re contacted and told to make a payment immediately, request a letter in writing and then verify it before ever sending a dime.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services, and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data.

The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Secret Shopper Scam

Mystery shopping has been among the top scams for a long time, and it keeps working because there are actually legitimate mystery shopping companies out there. The way to tell a scam from the real thing, though, comes down to whether or not you have to pay any money to sign up, receive lists of stores, or set up your own mystery shopping jobs.

But there’s a new take on it, and it combines the work-from-home scam with a money laundering scam. In the version reported this week, the victim was paid with a personal check and told that the shopping job involved depositing the check into her bank account, keeping $500 for completing the job, then wiring the remaining $1600 to another person via Moneygram.

If the victim had followed through, the original personal check would have bounced and the $1600 money wire would have been taken out of the victim’s bank account.

There is no legitimate reason why you should ever receive a check and then turn around and send a portion of those funds to someone else. It is a known front for criminal activity and financial fraud.

#2 – Bad Check Scam

This scam plays upon your fears of criminal action after informing you that you’ve broken the law. The victim received a letter that appeared to be official, informing him that he had bounced two checks. It went on to say that there were now bad check charges filed against him, and if he did not pay the amount of the checks plus his court fees, he would be arrested.

Here’s the catch: the letter stated that the only way to pay the fine was with a certified check. The victim couldn’t transfer money from his savings account to cover the checks, for example, or go down to the police station and pay in cash.

Whenever you’re given only one payment option—and it’s an untraceable method, like prepaid debit cards or money wires—that should cause you to think twice. A quick phone call to your bank will let you know if you’re the target of a scam or not.

#3 – Ransomware Scam

Ransomware is a form of cyberattack that can affect anything from a Fortune 500 company’s network to the smartphone in your pocket. There are a variety of different ways that your technology could have become infected, but the end result is still that a scammer is holding your device or computer for “ransom.”

It happens when you’ve accidentally installed some malicious software. A box or screen appears that tells you your computer is infected, and nothing you do seems to fix it. If you call the phone number or go to the website to fix it, you’re told to pay a fee to “clean” your system. Sometimes these messages seem to come from a legitimate source, like Microsoft informing you that your network is compromised and they can repair it; other versions have been far more sinister, as in a hacker actually stating he was responsible for this and will only remove it if you pay up.

The most important thing to do is never give in to the demand. If you cannot unlock your system yourself, take it to a computer repair office and see what can be done. Turning over your credit card number to a scammer in order to remove the issue only gives them your financial information, and may not even remove the problem.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Charity Scams

There should be a special punishment for scammers who steal your money while pretending that it will go to charity, but that’s exactly what one victim reported to the BBB this week. A young woman came through the neighborhood selling magazines door-to-door, supposedly to raise funds for charity. An additional layer of charitable giving was even offered, as you could opt to order a subscription and have it sent to a children’s hospital.

While there were a few shady aspects to the visit, the victim ultimately gave the saleswoman a check for the full subscription amount. Only after thinking about it later and doing some homework online did the victim find all of the complaints against this supposed charity.

It’s sad that you have to guard your donations carefully in order to protect them from a thief, but that is the reality of it. In order to be sure that your hard-earned money actually goes to help its intended recipients, only make your contributions to recognized, approved charities who can provide you with proper documentation.

#2 – Utility Scam

There are a wide variety of utility scams out there, but they all hinge on you believing the phone call or notice you received originated from a necessary resource. If you’re under the impression that your electricity, water, or phone service will be shut off, you’re more likely to ignore the warning signs and comply with their requests.

One of the many forms that a utility scam can take is to convince you that you’ve failed to pay an old bill or an old late fee. Of course, the scammer would love for you to make a payment over the phone so he can steal your credit card, but the goal can also be to get your Social Security number (under the pretense of “verifying” your account) or your bank account number (by pretending to debit the late payment electronically).

Remember, this all comes down to ignoring a stranger’s request for information in order to protect your data. Never make a payment for any reason to someone who calls you out of the blue, and never share your personal information with a caller.

#3 – Facebook Response Scam

This is a more recent innovation in online marketing since even scammers have to market themselves online. You might have seen these in the comments’ sections of web articles or as comments on your friends’ Facebook posts. These posts promise everything from guaranteed loans to work-at-home opportunities to diet solutions. There’s only one actual guarantee, though: it’s a scam.

If you’re actually looking for financial loans or weight loss support, a Facebook friend could certainly steer you in the right direction. But a random spammy comment from a complete stranger probably isn’t going to yield good results. Only click on trusted links and follow sound advice from known sources.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, anyone can use our services and anyone can help us help others. If you found this information useful, please consider donating to the Identity Theft Resource Center to help us keep our services free to the public.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data.

The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker. It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Nigerian Money Exchange Scam

You’ve probably heard of the “Nigerian prince” emails, but have you ever wondered how they’re intended to work? In any form of money exchange scam, you agree to hold money for someone in exchange for getting to keep a portion of it. There are really two different pitfalls here: the first is that you’ve just accidentally engaged in money laundering (a serious crime), and the second (more likely) scenario is that there is no money, but you’re tricked into thinking it’s been deposited into your account. When you go to send the individual back his portion, you’ve really just drained your own bank account.

There’s something interesting to note about the Nigerian prince emails. You’ve probably noticed that the grammar and writing are exceptionally bad, and that the story is so farfetched. There’s an intentional reason for that. According to multiple sources, the poor quality helps the email get past the spam filters that are programmed to look for certain phrases, and the scammers only want gullible people to fall for it. If a savvier person reads the email and dismisses it as a hoax, then he’s not wasting the scammer’s “valuable” time.

#2 – Disability Assistance Scam

In a new scam that was reported to the BBB last week, the victim received dozens of phone calls and text messages from various people, all claiming to work for the same service. The very genuine-sounding callers purported to be with an organization that helps individuals who’ve been turned down for disability benefits.

In this case, the scammers are just throwing darts at a list of phone numbers, hoping someone they contact has applied and been turned down. All they’re really after if the victim’s identifying information, particularly his Social Security number.

Never, ever give out your personal information to someone who contacts you. If they’re legitimate, they would already have all of your information. And no, they don’t need you to verify it for them. They called you, remember?

#3 – Direct Deposit Scam

If you’re ever contacted by any agency, organization, or company and told that you’re owed a refund that must be paid by direct deposit, it’s a scam. In this week’s report to the BBB, a victim reported that a company called her office and stated several owed payments were being held since the only method of payment from the company was direct deposit. The caller then stated that he needed their bank account number and routing number in order to process those payments.

False. You will never set up direct deposit over the phone with a caller who reaches out to you without prior notification. In most cases, direct deposits are set up via a signed (and sometimes notarized) form anyway, so handing over your bank information and your account number to a stranger who calls you is a surefire way to have your account drained.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Family Imprisonment Scam

The old Nigerian prince emails used to be almost humorous, but due to more awareness of the issue, scammers have had to switch tactics. Now, many of the phishing emails and phone calls are anything but funny. In one recently reported scam that cost a victim almost $7,000, it was a grandson who was being held in a foreign prison. He needed bail money wired to the “police” immediately.

There’s an interesting twist on this specific report, though. The couple fell for it and wired money via Walmart Money Gram. The next day, they received a phone call from someone who claimed to be with Walmart, informing them that this was a scam and they were due a refund. All they had to do in order to receive the refund was…you guessed it…send more money in order to “verify” the account. They just got scammed twice.

NEVER wire money to anyone who claims to be holding your family member hostage. Always verify your loved one’s location, and call the police if there’s actually a reason to believe someone is in danger.

#2 – BBB Scam

What better way to trick you into handing over your money or your identity than to pretend to be the very people who track these kinds of scams? One victim contacted the Better Business Bureau after receiving a voicemail… claiming to be from the Better Business Bureau!

How are you supposed to protect yourself from scammers who appear to work for the “good guys?” It actually happens all the time. Imposter scams include every possible scenario: law enforcement, the IRS, legal defense teams, schools, hospitals, and yes, even the BBB. If you receive a cold call from someone who claims that you owe money, that you are in some kind of danger (physical or legal), or that you are in any way responsible for making a payment of some kind, hang up. Contact the company or agency they claim to work for directly using a verified phone number (NOT one that the caller provided, as that could lead right back to the scammers) and find out what the issue is for yourself. NEVER give them any payment information or personal data.

#3 – Yellow Pages Scam

It’s important to understand that this particular scam happened to involve a known entity, the Yellow Pages. However, it could apply to any company name at all, and can victimize anyone.

Several reports have come in from small businesses who received a fax that appeared to be an update request for the new phone book. Instead, after sending back their current information, the ugly letters and phone calls began; the sender claimed the original document was actually an order form and that the victim now owes a lot of money. Failure to immediately comply has resulted in victims being harassed and even threatened.

Again, this scam has taken on the guise of the Yellow Pages, and there’s no reason to think the legitimate company is involved in this. It can also happen in exactly the same way, to any kind of victim and with any other company name on it. Always know what you’re signing and submitting, and keep copies of it as proof that you did not place an order or enter into an agreement. If a caller continues to harass you or threaten you with legal action, report the matter to law enforcement.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Tech Support Scam

A scammer reaches out to you—typically by a message on your computer or by phone—and claims to be from tech support for Windows, your computer’s manufacturer, or some other related company. He explains that there are corrupted files on your computer and he has to get in there to fix the issue. The scammer wants access to the victim’s computer in order to dig around for useful information, but be aware that other versions of this same scam also involve callers who offer to “clean” the virus from your computer in exchange for credit card payment for the service. In any case, tech support departments do not work this way; it’s a scam, and you should never give access, information, or payments to someone who calls you.

#2 – Lottery Scams

Lottery scams are certainly nothing new, but the reports that came into the BBB this week had a twist that was straight out of our nightmares. It’s not enough that a cold caller contacted the victim to inform him he’d won a million dollars and a new car in the MegaBucks drawing (a real lottery, by the way). But in this situation, in order to claim the prize, the victim had to meet the “prize committee” at his bank, presumably to deposit the massive check. From there, the conversation took a different turn: they wanted to come to the victim’s house. No one who ever contacts you out of the blue should have any reason to come to your home. If it can’t be handled by mail through a legitimate postal service or shipping company, through email, or through other safer means, you must distance yourself from the situation immediately.

#3 – Work from Home Scam

Work from home scams are as old as the postal system. In the olden days, you bought your kit, you paid for your supplies, you may have even paid for training materials, and at the end of the process the only person who was better off was the individual who sold you all of those goods. Now, thanks to the internet and the abundance of job hunt information, it’s easier than ever for someone to steal your identity by posing as a potential employer.

One person who received a work-from-home employment opportunity in the past week was contacted out of the blue by someone who wanted to hire him, but needed his highly-sensitive information to conduct the “background check,” as well as his bank account information in order to set him up on direct deposit. Those are very plausible reasons to ask for a victim’s identifying information…AFTER he has the job, NOT as part of the hiring process. Never give out this level of information during the hiring process, and never give it to someone who contacts you without prior communication.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well after tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Tax Collection

While IRS imposter scams are already blowing up people’s phones and email inboxes, the tax “collection” scam is slightly different. While imposter scams occur when someone pretends to be an IRS agent in order to collect fines or gather your personal information under the pretense of updating your account, a collection scam is far scarier.

Reports have come in already this month in which scammers have contacted potential victims and informed them that legal proceedings are already underway against them. In some cases it’s been civil lawsuits in which the victim is allegedly being sued for failure to pay, and in other circumstances it has been threats of criminal proceedings.

Remember, the IRS is not authorized to take any payments over the phone and will never insist that the only way you can pay is through a wire transfer or prepaid credit card. Those indicators should immediately tell you this is a scam. At the same time, the IRS does not have its own police force, and you will never be called first and told you can halt your own arrest if you just make payment.

#2 – Online Purchase

From time shares to vehicles to concert tickets, reports of scams involving fraudulent online purchasing are on the rise. The availability of legitimate online retail and resale sites has only fostered the idea that you can score great deals from web-based companies. Unfortunately, you can also end up paying for products that don’t even exist, let alone work the way you want them to.

It’s important to make sure you know what you’re getting, how it’s being paid for, and how it will arrive to you before you make any online purchases. Going through a reputable site is a must, as is paying only through a verified payment method that guarantees you some sort of consumer protection. Anyone who expects you to pay upfront and only accepts wire transfers does not have your best interests at heart.

#3 – Overpayment Scam

This one is rarer but certainly not so uncommon that people don’t fall for it. The victim receives a check—either for a legitimate purchase like an item sold on an auction website, but also just out of the blue—and is immediately contacted by the sender and told it was an error. Since they’re such nice people, they’ll have you cash it, keep out $100 for your trouble, and wire them back the rest of it.

Of course, once the check is deposited in your account and you withdraw the money that you’re returning, the check takes a day or so to clear. It’s fake, often written off a phony account. You essentially just took money out of your account and wired it to a thief.

If you receive a check like this, don’t try to make a buck for your “inconvenience.” Just offer to tear it up. It won’t hurt anything to have the check made void and the sender won’t be out any money, so there’s no reason to play along.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Throughout the year, the Identity Theft Resource Center hosts informative Twitter chats on ways the public can protect itself from fraud and scams.

For our upcoming Twitter chat on Thursday, February 4th at 3pm (EST), we’re joining our co-hosts from IDT911 to talk about some of the top scams that are affecting consumers right now.

Some of the topics we’ll cover in this informative session will include:

  • What scams are you hearing about right now?
  • Who is at a high risk of falling for a scam?
  • Tax time is always a large source of scams. What are some tips to avoid tax-related scams?
  • Sweetheart Scams prey on people looking for love. Any advice for avoiding these – especially online?
  • Super Bowl scams are here. How do you know if those low price tickets or ticket giveaways are real?
  • New social media scams pop up every day. How do you identify a scam and protect yourself?
  • Are scams more common online? Or do we still need to worry about traditional phone calls and letters?
  • The elderly are often targets for scammers. How can we protect family and friends?
  • What resources are available for someone who may have already been scammed?
  • What’s your number one tip for spotting a scam?

Scams are nothing new, and have been around in one form or another pretty much since humans first learned that they could get something for nothing by resorting to trickery. The difference these days is the internet has given thieves an unparalleled ability to reach thousands of people at a time at the touch of a button, as well as provided a limitless global audience to victimize. Of course, the shift to internet scamming means it’s all too easy to let our guard down when an “old-fashioned” scam shows up by mail or phone call.

Join us for this important Twitter chat and learn some of the top scams out there, as well as ways to recognize and respond to communications that make you think twice. In order to take part in this free, live event, participants must simply log into their Twitter accounts at 3pm (EST) on February 4th and follow the #IDTheftChat hashtag.

For your convenience, you may also log into the ID Theft Tweet Deck chat room by going to http://tweetchat.com/room/IDTheftChat after signing into your Twitter account. Be sure to type “#IDTheftChat” at the end of each of your tweets so that others may see your comments and questions. If you can’t make the live event, you can also search for the hashtag on Twitter at a later date to read all of the information on the topic of tax identity theft.

Be sure to follow the Identity Theft Resource Center (@ITRCSD) and IDT911 (@IDT911) on Twitter for information that will protect you and your loved ones from internet and identity theft crimes throughout the year.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

It’s worth noting that IRS Imposter Scams are still topping the list of reports to the BBB, and that isn’t likely to change until well into the tax season. In the meantime, take a look at some of their other recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Online Purchase Scams

In this scam, you click on an ad to buy a ridiculously cheap but sought-after item. These ads often claim that the product is endorsed by a high-profile celebrity, but that’s actually not the case. Once you click and enter your information to purchase the product, the real crime begins.

You’re taken to page after page after page of other products to buy, and each time you click “No thanks,” it’s actually adding the item to your shopping cart. When you finally get through to the payment screen, you’re not offered an invoice, only the option to complete your purchase. A later peek at your credit card account will show all of the other items you accidentally purchased.

Even worse, attempting to call customer service to remove these items (if you’re lucky enough to actually reach a representative) only results in being told the items have already shipped, and that the only way to get a refund is for you to wait for the products to arrive and then return them, then to wait up to six weeks for a refund to be processed. They’re counting on you giving up instead of pursuing it further.

You can avoid this scam by only shopping on reputable internet retailers’ sites, and avoiding the temptation to click on a cheap flashy ad.

#2 – Home Improvement Scams

There have been numerous reports of different home improvement scams in the past week, all in different locations and with different contractors. What could be causing an increase in the number of crooks making off with your money?

The season. This is the time of year when a lot of renovators and construction companies are looking for extra work. Their spring, summer, and fall months may be filled with lucrative jobs, but the winter months are when new construction slows down and they look to other opportunities to make ends meet.

Also, taking into consideration the fact that a lot of contractors use day laborers to actually complete the work, you may be hiring a contractor who then has to turn around and scrounge up people to do the physical work. That can be hard on a day-to-day basis when the weather turns foul, meaning the job got started but not finished.

The most important thing to do when hiring a renovation or repair contractor is right there in his name: get a contract. Never hire anyone to do work if you have to pay upfront, even if you’re told it’s for the “parts”; if that’s the case, go to the hardware store yourself and purchase the part. Any reputable construction firm will have the means to purchase the necessary materials and then bill you upon completion of the project.

#3 – Travel Scams

Different travel scams have cropped up in the past week, from the outrageously good “act now” offers to the threatening non-payment scams. Some people reported being offered extra weeks on their timeshares if they only pay the “one time processing fee,” while others were threatened with hefty fines and debt collectors if they didn’t pay up for vacations they’d never booked.

Either way, remember that legitimate companies will never call you out of the blue and expect payment over the phone. Never give your credit card number or identifying information to anyone who contacts you.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.

Each week, the Identity Theft Resource Center works with some of the top industry experts to provide consumers with updates about threats to their personal data. The Better Business Bureau leads the way by publishing a recurring and continually updated list of scams, fraud attempts, and other threats each day in its Scam Tracker.

Take a look at some of their more recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Phony Tech Support

One of the most prevalent scams in the past week has been fraud attempts that are masked as tech support offers. In these scams, people reach out to their victims by posing as support personnel who can clean viruses off their computers.

First of all, it’s likely that the virus was never even there. A popup box that looks a lot like it came from Microsoft (other versions have flashing red warnings that look very dangerous) can be very hard to ignore, though. When you click the box to remove the threat or report the virus, however, that’s when you actually installed the virus! The box originally showed up when you opened a link in an email, clicked on an ad on a website, or other similar action. Remember, that wasn’t the virus…clicking on the warning is what damages your computer.

Other victims have reported being called out of the blue by individuals who informed them they’d detected viruses on their networks, claiming to work for the computer’s manufacturer. This is false, and it’s not how computers even work. Computer companies don’t staff call centers filled with people who simply sit at a desk all day and monitor their customers’ computer use for any signs of a virus. But that doesn’t stop the scammer from trying.

When you agree to have the support person remove the viruses, you will be directed to pay by credit card, which the scammer will then steal. Remember, never pay over the phone to someone who contacts you for any reason, and if your computer actually does have a virus, there are ways to remove it at home.

#2 – Work from Home Scams

Another commonly reported scam this week was the ever-popular work from home scam. This one has been around literally for decades, mostly because it still works. After all, who doesn’t dream of waking up, turning on their computer while the coffee brews, and sitting down to work for a few hours, all while supposedly making hundreds or even thousands of dollars a week?

Most work from home scams operate by selling you something, like a list of useless names for you to then contact on your own, or the “supplies” you’ll need to conduct your business. With everything from mystery shopping to data entry to envelope stuffing, scammers hold out a lot of different options while taking your money.

There are legitimate work-from-home opportunities out there, but you have to do your homework to find them. And rest assured, you won’t find your next dream career by responding to a spam email or clicking on a flashy sidebar ad.

#3 – IRS Imposters

This scam actually topped the list last week, but it’s still happening and therefore still making our list. With tax time already upon us, imposters are coming out of the woodwork to try to get your money, your identifying information, or both.

Using either email or a technique called caller ID spoofing, the scammer reaches out to you with one of two likely scenarios. In the first, he says that you owe money from last year (either you didn’t pay enough or you owe an unpaid penalty for not filing properly); he then goes on to say that you must make payment immediately in order to file this year’s return, and that you might even face jail time. The second scenario that victims have reported involves “updating” your profile with the IRS, which will require you to fill out an online form or answer questions over the phone. This is nothing more than a way to steal all of your information, and then steal your identity.

Remember, the IRS simply does not work this way. You will never be called or emailed and told to make a payment right then. You will also never be contacted and asked for your personal information.

For the rest of this week’s top scams, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker site or the ITRC website under the Current Scams & Alerts section. Be sure to share this information with others so they can stay informed and protect themselves.