Fake state investigators targeting licensees - Albuquerque Journal

Fake state investigators targeting licensees

Don’t believe it if someone claiming to be with the state’s regulation department calls and demands money.

The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department says scammers posing as agency investigators or staff members are making these calls to licensees. In some cases, they will claim to be from local police, the FBI or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

They will say that the person or business holding the license is under investigation, that the license may be suspended or that an arrest warrant has been issued. To make matters worse, they might spoof phone numbers to make it look like it’s really the regulatory department calling.

The real agency notes that it “will never contact licensees demanding money or payment of any form or personalized information without conducting an official investigation or inquiry,” according to a fraud alert.

If you get such a call, refuse the demand for payment. If you want to verify whether there is an official investigation, contact Regulation and Licensing directly at 505-476-4500.

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Now that we’re into everyone’s favorite time of year – tax season – the scoundrel scammers have come up with a new twist.

They are sending out text messages claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service and telling people that their tax returns have been rejected, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Here’s one example, grammatical error and all: “your federal return was rejected by the IRS. Don’t worry, we’ll help you fix the problem. Check your email for more information. IRS.”

The point of these texts is to “get consumers’ personal information, which may put them at further risk of tax identity crimes,” according to the resource center.

Know that the IRS is not into texting and will not send you a message about your tax return in this way.

If you get such a message, don’t respond, don’t open any attachments and don’t click on any links. Doing so could allow a scammer to infect your device.

Forward the text scam and the originating phone number to the IRS at 202-552-1226. Next, delete the original message.

On the other hand, it is possible that you might get a text from your tax preparer. Still, independently check before responding because “scammers may also spoof tax filing entities,” the center says.

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And speaking of tax preparers, the IRS is reminding people to avoid “ghost” tax preparers “whose refusal to sign returns can cause a frightening array of problems.”

They have earned this name because they don’t sign the returns they prepare. Businesses or individuals who prepare or help to prepare federal tax returns must have a valid ID number and must include that number and their signature on the return.

“Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a fast buck by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund,” the IRS says.

No matter who prepares the return, the taxpayer should review it to make sure it is signed and to verify that the correct routing and bank account number is included for any direct deposit. In other words, it should be your information and not your preparer’s.

And generally this tax season, remember that the IRS doesn’t call to threaten taxpayers nor will it make a surprise demand for immediate payment. The agency also does not ask for financial information over the phone or all about an unexpected refund.

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The Federal Trade Commission is warning of fake organizations or charities offering to help pay rent to avoid eviction. Some versions of this scam offer legal help.

“Dead giveaways” that the offered help is bogus are that you have to pay something upfront or that you must first provide personal information, the FTC says.

The agency advises doing research, even if you’re the one reaching out for help. You can do so by searching on the group’s name along with the words “scam” or “fraud.”

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-888-255-9210 or file a complaint at www.nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx


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