NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Consumer watchdog groups are warning you to watch your wallet as some of the top rip-offs and scams will continue into 2017 with some changes.
The vast majority of the scams will start with a phone call.
According to The Better Business Bureau, the top scam for 2015, 2016 and possibly 2017 will be scams claiming you owe an IRS debt or some other kind of debt.
In both 2015 and 2016, those kinds of scams were the most commonly reported by victims.
Typically someone will call you to say you have an outstanding debt or unpaid balance to the IRS, and then they tell you to load money on a prepaid gift card or other prepaid card to handle that debt.
Once you do that, they ask for the code on the back of the card and get away with your money.
Sometimes a variation of the scheme is when the person will tell you that you missed jury duty and have a warrant.
In August, the U.S. Marshal’s office put out an alert to let people know the phone calls were not real.
“Federal Courts do not call prospective jurors or ask for money or personal identification information,” according to a release from the U.S. Marshal’s office. “Anyone that receives a ‘Jury Duty Scam’ phone call should report it, with any available caller ID information, to their local United States Marshals Service office, or the local FBI office.”
According to the BBB, scams like this are expected to grow in 2017.
You can check scams in your area by going to the BBB Scam Tracker. The website tracks what scams and rip-offs are reported in each state and Canada.
It will also show how much money was lost as a result. If the scam was unsuccessful, it will show $0.
The Federal Trade Commission made it illegal for telemarketers to collect payment via prepaid cash cards, so experts warn in 2017 scammers will ask you to load money onto iTunes gift cards to pay.
Another scam to be on the lookout for is fake charities. They often pop up after major events like the wildfires in East Tennessee.
The BBB warns you to be cautious of any one who cold calls you asking for a donation and to make sure to check out a charity with the secretary of state’s website before sending money. You can also check out a non-profit organization by going to the GuideStar website.
The FTC also said technical support scams will be big in 2017. Someone will call you or send you a pop message on your computer to tell you there are viruses detected.
They may then ask you to download special software or demand you pay them to clean your computer of the virus.
The FTC said you should hang up if you are on a phone call with someone claiming this. Also, never give out any personal information or account information.
You should also be careful of phishing scams. That is when a business will impersonate another business to trick you into giving out your personal information.
The phishers will often impersonate a reputable business and possibly one you do regular business with to gain your trust.
You can report phishing scams by forwarding the email to email@example.com and naming the business being impersonated.
For more information, read the 10 steps to avoid scams from the BBB.