Top 10 scams targeting Hoosiers in 2015

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By: Jon Zimney jzimney@953mnc.om

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is warning Hoosiers about the top 10 scams that victimized Indiana residents in 2015 and cost people $1.1 million. In total, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division received more than 3,400 complaints from people who were targeted or became a victim of a scam in 2015.

Zoeller said most common scam of 2015 was the IRS scam, in which callers claim to be with the IRS and demand immediate payment of past-due taxes. Scammers might threaten arrest and jail time if the payment is not received immediately, and usually request that the money be paid back though the purchase of pre-paid cards.

Most people targeted by the IRS scam recognized it as fraudulent, hung up on the caller and reported the scam to the IRS or the AG’s Office. Six Hoosiers did fall for the scam and lost a total of $65,135.

The scam that swindled Hoosiers out of the most money this year at $356,200 was the Sweepstakes/Lottery scam, in which a fraudster convinces someone they have won a prize but they must pay fees and taxes before they can claim it. Once the scammer receives these “fees,” they take off with the money and the consumer never hears from them again.

“Unfortunately, once people send money to a scam artist – often using a wire service or a pre-paid card – it is very difficult to recover the money,” Zoeller said. “Scammers are often out of state or overseas, and these methods of money transfer are largely untraceable. That’s why educating people about these scams and what red flags to look out for is so important.”

The Attorney General’s Outreach Division, which aims to educate the public on guarding against fraud and scams, held more than 600 community events in 79 Indiana counties this year and reached more than 40,000 people.

Attorney General Zoeller offers these top 5 tips to guard against scams:

  • Do not do business with incoming callers. Only do business when you initiate the call using a number you have in your records for the company or organization, not that was left on caller ID or given to you by someone else.
  • Indiana’s Do Not Call law should eliminate legitimate telemarketing calls to your home. If you are receiving sales calls and are on the Do Not Call list, you should be suspicious and not provide any information. To register or confirm your phone number is on the Do Not Call list visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 888-834-9969.
  • Do not feel pressured to make quick decisions. Take time to research any offers or demands. Ask trusted relatives and friends their opinions before making a decision.
  • Do not send money to claim a prize. A legitimate contest will never require you to send money to claim a prize.
  • Do not send money using a wire service, like Western Union or MoneyGram, or with pre-paid cards, like GreenDot. When making purchases, use a credit card because this payment method offers insurance against fraud.

For more information about these common scams and how to protect yourself, visit the Attorney General’s website here or call 800-382-5516.