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Ditch The Boxing Gloves- Financial Arguments and Keeping Order In Your Relationship
by Matt K. Logan CFP®
It is tax time. It is also scam week here at WFMY and those two go hand in hand. Did you know that according to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network that reports fraud among multiple agencies, in 2015, 45% of fraud was in the form of tax or wage related fraud nationwide.
A Little Story
Just a month ago I got a call from a number I did not recognize. The number was from the state of Washington and the woman on the phone sounded very professional. She told me that she was with the IRS and that she was on their fraud prevention team and that she was calling because I had committed tax fraud. Knowing that the IRS would not reach out to me in that way, I went along with it to see what her story would be. The first thing I did was ask her for her badge number. I was amazed when she rattled off a reply. I then asked her why I was not contacted via mail as that is a usual form of communication for the IRS. She said that she was part of the special fraud task force. She then proceeded to tell me that I needed to give her my credit card or some form of payment or I would go to jail as she got frustrated with my questioning. I promptly passed along my little brothers credit card number and all of his personal information to avoid the threatened jail time and she went away. (That was not really accurate about giving her any information)
My point is that these calls happen regularly. She called my cell phone. These scams are more and more popular and today and you need to arm yourself and your family members who could become targets with the necessary precautions to insure you don’t fall victim.
How Much Do Scams Happen?
According to the federal trade commission, reported scams are on the rise. Look at the chart below showing how many complaints are received each year. You can see that in 2001 only 325 thousand complaints were reported and just 15 years later over 3 million complaints were reported. The activity is on the rise and the reason has to be that these people are having some success scamming people out of their hard earned money. The reported numbers alone show that over $500 million was taken from Americans just this past year. The numbers are very high so don’t think it couldn’t happen to you or someone you love.
The Anatomy Of A Scam By The Numbers
-Statistically speaking, a scammer will be more likely to target you in your 50s or 60s.
-Typically, a scammer is most likely to contact you by phone.
-The scam involves some sort of tax or wage scam as we saw before in the data.
The scammer will be much more likely to have you wire money from your bank account to theirs. This is almost the same as mailing cash and you better believe that if you have wired some money to someone they very well could be a fraud.
Resources For Learning About Scams
A neat resource is the Better Business Bureau. While they do not have the same amount of data as the FTC as their data relies on people instead of enforcement agencies, it is still relevant. Just look at the ones reported for our area.
For that same area, the scams have more detailed information. The chart below shows the top scams reported on that map sorted by money reported lost. Again, not everyone will report but this is a great way to dig in and get further information on some of the popular scams in the area so you can be more informed if you get a call, email or letter from a scammer.
When you click on view, you will see even more detailed information on the scam and what the caller said. This is a great way to stay in the know on the latest scams that could be happening in your area.
Spotting A Scam
The Federal Trade Commission gives a great list of tips to avoid fraud. I have a link to the article here. No matter what happens, never ever give your information over the phone to someone who calls you unsolicited. Ask them if you may call them back. Once you hang up, go look up the number for the company yourself and call the company and ask them to see if there is any record of a call that should have been made. Email is another great resource for scammers. Many times it comes in the form of someone you trust who has had their email hacked. Be very careful. If a friend sends you a file under the Google Documents, this is a great scam. It requires you to go put in your user name and password for google and then they have access to your account. Be very wary especially from friends who send you something that sounds out of character. I have even had clients email get hacked and ask if I would wire money. While I knew that was out of character for the client and called immediately, it was very real looking in appearance.
Be mindful. Not only for yourself but for others who are important to you who may be more likely to fall for a scam. Even the most official sounding phone calls or emails can be a clever disguise for scammers. I am many times surprised by their creativity and abilities.
Feel free to visit my website at www.mattloganinc.com or email me at [email protected] if I can be of any assistance. Also, I would love to hear about ways that you and your significant other handle financial disagreements.
Matt Logan Inc is an independent firm with Securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC. Advisory services offered through Summit Financial Group Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Summit Brokerage Services, Inc., its affiliates and Matt Logan Inc. do not give tax or legal advice. You should consult an experienced professional regarding the tax consequences of a specific transaction. These are the views of Matt Logan Inc, and not necessarily those of Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. and any of its affiliates and should not be construed as investment advice.