Tip of the Week: Scams & Tax Season
NEPTUNE: The Neptune Police Department shares these tips to keep you safe.
We frequently post about all types of scams that we’ve investigated in Neptune Township, including a variety of phone and email scams that have unfortunately cost victims tens of thousands of dollars. During tax season, scammers will often target victims while posing as representatives of the IRS and other government agencies, demanding tax payments while threatening utility shutoff, asset seizure or even arrest. Many of these scams originate overseas and utilize sophisticated technology to hide their identities, making efforts to locate and prosecute scammers nearly impossible. The best way to combat scams is to stop them before they begin, and we need your help. Please share these tips with friends, family, and neighbors, especially the elderly or non-English speaking persons who can be more at-risk to be targeted by scammers
- If something feels wrong, it probably is. If you’re being threatened with arrest or utility shutoff and have not received any prior letters, emails, or phone calls from the company, be suspicious. Calmly ask the potential scammer to call you back at another time, and call your local police department before offering any payment or personal information.
- If the payment method is unusual, be suspicious. Law enforcement agencies, utility companies, and the IRS will never demand payment using gift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, bitcoin, or cash dropped in a random location.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re buying a product or vehicle online, do your research to find out what the price range should be. If you see a deal that is dramatically lower than similar models, you may be looking at a scam.
- Never offer any payment to someone promising to send you a large sum of money, in exchange for a small fee. This is a common trick and will lead to the scammer disappearing with your “small fee” and you being left with a bad, worthless check.
- Be especially aware of the common methods of contacting you in regards to payments. Traditional letters are still the most common way you will be contacted by a legitimate government agency or company, and may be followed by a phone call or email. If you’re being contacted by a “representative” of a utility company or government agency via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram message, or another non-traditional method, use caution.
- Scammers have the ability to spoof phone numbers, and may even use the exact name and phone number of a legitimate business or government agency. If you’re suspicious of a caller, ask them to call you later and contact your local police department directly to help verify the information.
- If you are contacted by a “law enforcement agency” or “family member” claiming to be in jail and needing bail money, take the time to verify the claim if it seems unlikely. Scammers often threaten potential victims, saying that it is illegal to speak with anyone about this before making payment. This is never the case, you are always encouraged to call your local police department or a trusted family member to assist.
- If you work in a retail store, be aware of someone coming in and purchasing suspicious amounts of gift cards. If you believe someone is being victimized, contact your store manager or local police department before processing their payment.
As always, the Neptune Township Police Department is here to serve our community 24/7/365 and we encourage anyone with questions to call us at (732) 988-8000. We also accept anonymous tips on our website at neptunepolice.org/reportatip.