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New Scams: Even E-mails From Your Boss Aren’t Safe

Scammers pose as your work supervisor and ask you for company money. Fraudsters claim to help you get out of debt but instead cash the checks themselves. And callers claiming to be from the IRS might not, actually, be government officials.

These are just a few of the scams detailed recently by the Federal Trade Commission, as the agency alerts the public of recently reported attempts to steal identities and swindle consumers of their money.

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In the first, the FTC reported, scammers posing as your boss, or your boss’s boss, ask for wire transfers and steal major money from businesses. Schemers learn the names of authority figures and send official-looking e-mails to employees asking for money to be transferred or a bill be paid. But the funds are going to a bogus account, which belongs to the thieves.

To avoid this, FTC officials recommend, make sure payments from your company require approval from more than one person. Check that others at your business are aware of the scam, and ask in person about money requests if they seem out of place. Double check e-mail addresses to make sure money is going to the right place.

In the second scam, the FTC reported that groups calling to say they are from the government and will relieve your massive debt are actually trying to steal your money. These scammers are not supported by the U.S. government, and prey on debtor’s insecurities by taking payments from customers and leaving debts unpaid, as reported in an FTC alert.

If you do need help paying off debt, FTC officials recommend contacting a credit counselor. A legitimate service on the FTC-approved list will not charge you for information or ask for details on your financial situation right off the bat.

Finally, your caller ID might show a 202 area code, straight from Washington, D.C. It might even read “IRS”. But the person on the line isn’t from the IRS at all. Your caller ID is being tricked, and the identity thief on the other end hopes you will be fooled and share confidential information or, even better, send money to a fraudulent account, the FTC reported.

How to protect yourself from this one? Remember that the IRS usually contacts workers by U.S. mail, not telephone, FTC officials said. So odds are high that phone calls are coming from scammers.

Report suspected scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) online or at (800)366-4484. If you think you owe back federal taxes, double check by calling the IRS at 800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov.

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