Expect to receive a flyer in the US mail today, April 25, 2020, from the US Postal Inspection Service. It is a PSA regarding scams related to the pandemic, but also references other scams related to stimulus checks, tax filings, etc. It is of special interest to the USPIS if any scams use the postal service to perpetrate these scams. The link on the flyer, https://www.uspis.gov/coronavirus/, provides PSA videos, and links to resources on how to identify, avoid, and report these scams.
NOTE: The page is slow to load due to heavy system load. It is not your Internet connection, or your PC experiencing issues. It is their site inundated by requests.
Recently, in newscasts and Internet reports, a new scam surfaced with either a recorded “robo-call” or a human attempting to get you to answer a question with “Yes”. The caller claims to represent a business entity you may or may not be familiar with, and proceeds to ask something simple, such as:
- Can you hear me clearly?
- Are you the homeowner?
- Are you over 18?
- Are you the head of the household?
- Do you pay the bills?
- Do you own a computer?
It can be a myriad of questions, that the unsuspecting public might engage out of good manners. That is the hook. Most people practice good manners, or social small talk responses figuring there is no harm. The problem is the scammers are recording your voice saying “Yes” and then use that as consent to sign you up for other services or products. Later, they demand payment and use the recorded answer to confirm the purchase.
I received one of these calls today, and I was lucky enough to have read about this scam weeks prior. I did not exercise good manners. I simply hung up. If you get a call where the lead off is a question seeking a “Yes” response, DO NOT answer! The FTC and law enforcement recommend simply hanging up. Avoid providing any responses that can be construed as consent, e.g. “Yes”, “OK”, “affirmative”, “sure”.
Given it is tax season, also be on the look out for scammers claiming to represent Social Security or the IRS, demanding payment of money or face jail time. Most government agencies conduct business by written US mail, and NOT by phone. Hang up on these types of calls, too.
While cleaning up the stack of mail from my kitchen counter I came across the latest Angie’s List publication. Within was an interesting article by Paul F.P. Pogue regarding HVAC scams to load counterfeit coolant in your air conditioner. Give it a read and learn how to protect yourself from this type of HVAC scam. His article is entitled “Is Your A/C System Using Counterfeit R-22?”