Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring is Here! What's blooming?

Spring. Plants are blooming, people are starting to plant gardens, lawn mowers and hedge trimmers come out of the back of the garage, we start enjoying the longer days.

And then the blooming scammers pop up. In our e-mails, on the phone, in our mailboxes, even in our taxes.

One scam that has sprung up already is tax refund fraud. The blooming scammer goes through your mail box, your trash, or finds out as much as they can about you off the web. They then go to a tax preparer or use tax software and file a return in your name. They then have the refund deposited to a debit card and start spending. With  the IRS and most state tax collection agencies mandating the use of electronic filing, nothing is checked by a human until months or even years later and often times only if there is something that flags. It all runs through a machine that has less intelligence than a a head of lettuce.  Click here to read an article from CNN on this scam.

I received an email from Blooming Bank saying I need to log in using this link and verify my account info since it may have been compromised. I don't have a blooming account at Blooming Bank.

In short, be careful of the blooming scammers. If you think it may be a scam, it probably is. Don't be afraid to say no thank you and hang up, close and lock the door, call the police, or  toss that letter in your shredder. If they are selling insurance door to door, really watch out. Get their card and tell them you will call them later, but you have to do something. Lock the door, see if there is a license number on the card. If not call the police, if so, call or go online to the dept. of insurance and look up the number. See if they are licensed.

Your bank will never contact you by e-mail to tell you something is wrong with your account. They will mail or call. Use websites and phone numbers for your bank that you already have to contact them. Be careful what you mail from your home mailbox. If possible take it to the post office, outgoing mail at work or put in in a post office drop box. Be careful what you put in the trash. Get a shredder and use it. Shred anything that has your credit card, social security, sign up forms, or other personal info. I even shred blank credit card applications I get in the mail.
And one of the best ways to avoid Blooming Scammers, if you have access to your account online, check your summary twice a week and look at each transaction. Report any charge you do not recognize, no matter the amount. Blooming Scammers will often make several small transactions before they make a major one and clean you out.