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 recent top scams or fraud attempts.

#1 – Puppy Scams

Scams work because they target our emotions, and the puppy scam is no different. There are many variations on it, from a breeder with a website filled with adorable photos to sob stories about a puppy that is free to a good home; the end result can be falling victim to a shipping scam.

There are legitimate companies that ship animals, but there are also too many scammers out there looking for a quick buck via the anonymity of the internet. Any company that requires you to pay upfront, only accepts payment through a money wire like Western Union, or is trying to “give” you a free puppy from a foreign country probably isn’t legitimate. If in doubt, remember…there are plenty of loving pets looking for a good home right in your town.

#2 – Phishing Mail

If you’ve spent more than five minutes on the internet, you’ve probably already received a phishing email. This is a communication that tries to get you to comply with the instructions in order to scam you out of money. But now that word has gotten out about emails like the famous Nigerian Prince emails, scammers are having to switch tactics.

All during the recent tax season, reports came in about scam phone calls that claimed to be IRS agents, stating that the victim owed money and was facing criminal penalties. Now that the tax filing deadline has passed, victims have reported receiving postcards with ominous sounding names like “Compliance Violation Division,” claiming the individual has violated some regulation and is being held accountable.

Remember, you are under no obligation to pay money to someone who calls you or emails you and demands payment immediately. However, mailed correspondence is a little more genuine, but can still carry risks of scams. Always contact the company directly—NOT using the phone number listed on the postcard—and ask to speak to a customer service agent about your account.

#3 – Past Due Invoice

There were multiple reports in the past week about businesses receiving “overdue” invoices, some of which even threatened to send the matter to a collection agency. Many of these invoices involved overdue payment for business ads in the Yellow Pages, but attempts to contact the invoicing company not only showed an out-of-service phone number or a fax line, but also that the company who’d sent the invoice was not associated with the Yellow Pages. The scammers send these out in hopes that you’ll just pay the bill, but it’s important that you don’t. Never send in payment for any unexplained bill without speaking to a customer service agent from the company.

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.

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