Scam Alerts

The Top Red Flags of a Veterans Day Scam

As Veterans Day approaches, many Americans may be searching for opportunities to give back to those who have served our country by donating to charity. Unfortunately, malicious scammers on the internet are notorious for taking advantage of the honorary day by using communication techniques similar to trusted military nonprofits to mislead prospective donors. recently released an article discussing the top red flags of a veteran charity scam. According to the article, “Through targeted communications, scammers use names similar to well-known charities and flood their communications with words like “hero,” “sacrifice” and “disabled” to pull on the heartstrings of compassionate Americans. Oftentimes, these fake charities will create targeted lists by searching social media for people who support the military. Other times, these scammers will imitate existing fundraisers or charities around military observances—such as Veterans Day—when the military is top of mind.” The top red flags of a veteran charity scam may include:

1. Receiving a thank you for a donation you don’t remember making

Fake charities will thank you for a donation that you never made in hopes that you will give “again” without questioning the legitimacy of their organization. If you receive communication that praises you for a donation you don’t remember making, proceed with caution.

2. Refusal to provide charity information

If a charity refuses to provide basic information about the organization itself or how your donation will be used, be wary. Legitimate organizations are happy to provide you with answers to all your questions before you donate. Prior to donating to any charity, we recommend doing some research. Search the charity’s name on sites like GuideStar, Charity Navigator or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which provide donors with free access to data, tools, and resources to make informative giving decisions.

3. Use of high-pressure tactics

Real charities appreciate donations whenever you are ready to give, so be wary of anyone who pressures you to donate right away. They are trying to get your money before you have time to do research or question their legitimacy. If someone is using high-pressure tactics to try to get you to donate, hang up or don’t respond until you’ve had time to do some investigating. We recommend running an internet search of the charity’s name followed by the word “scam” or “complaint”.

4. Requests for unusual payment method

If the charity asks you to donate using an unusual payment method like gift cards, cryptocurrency, cash or money transfer, it’s a scam. Scammers like these types of payment methods because they are untraceable. Credit cards or checks are much safer payment methods that can be tracked down if something goes wrong—and a legitimate charity will gladly accept these types of payment methods.

5. Demand for personal information

If a charity asks you to provide personal information—such as your Social Security Number or bank account number—it’s a scam. Real charities don’t need this type of information to process a donation. If you are required to provide personal information you aren’t comfortable sharing, look for another charity to donate to. To find a reputable charity, search for well-known organizations that support the cause you’re interested in.

Veterans Day is a day for honoring those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Sadly, veteran charity scams look to take advantage of Americans who wish to give back. Remember, when in doubt, do your research! Reputable charities will not pressure you into making a donation without answering your questions, and they will never ask for sensitive information. If you are targeted by a scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at

Information retrieved from To view the full article and learn more about Veterans Day scams, visit:
2022-11-10T10:58:20-05:00November 9, 2022|

Student Loan Forgiveness Scams Are On The Rise

There’s no question that student loan debt is a major problem for many people in the U.S. In fact, researchers estimate that there are currently more than 44 million Americans with student loan debt, and the average U.S. household that has student loan debt owes just over $57,000. With so much debt, it’s no wonder that there are people out there who are looking for ways to get rid of it. And that’s where student loan forgiveness scams come in.

There are a lot of companies and individuals out there who claim they can help you get your student loans forgiven. But the truth is, most of these offers are too good to be true. And if you’re not careful, you could end up getting scammed.

Recognizing a Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Scam

There are a few different types of student loan forgiveness scams out there. Here are three of the most common:

The company promises loan forgiveness for a fee. This is probably the most common type of scam. But the truth is, you don’t need to pay anyone to get your loans forgiven. The government has a number of programs that can help you get rid of your debt, and you can apply for them for free.

The company promises to lower your monthly payments. This is something you can do for free. There are a number of government programs that can help you lower your payments, and you don’t need to pay anyone to access them.

The company promises to consolidate your loans. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the interest rate you’re currently paying. If you’re consolidating your loans at a lower interest rate, it can save you money. But if you’re consolidating your loans at a higher interest rate, it could end up costing you more in the long run.

If you’re considering student loan forgiveness watch out for:

  1. Guarantees: Be wary of any company or individual that promises to guarantee your student loan forgiveness. The truth is, there’s no such thing as guaranteed student loan forgiveness. So if someone tells you they can guarantee it, they’re probably lying.
  2. Upfront Fees: You should never have to pay any upfront fees for student loan repayment assistance. If someone asks you to pay an upfront fee, it’s a good sign that they’re a scammer.
  3. High Pressure Sales Tactics: Be wary of anyone who’s pressuring you to sign up for their program or make a decision right away. If someone is trying to rush you, it’s likely because they’re not legitimate.
  4. Promises of Quick Forgiveness: Be careful of anyone who promises quick and easy student loan forgiveness. The truth is, the process can take years. So if someone tells you they can get your loans forgiven quickly, they’re probably not being honest.
  5. Outrageous Claims: Be skeptical of anyone who makes outrageous claims about student loan forgiveness. For example, if someone tells you that you can have your loans forgiven in a matter of weeks, it’s probably too good to be true.

Immediate Action Steps

If you think you may have been a victim of a student loan forgiveness scam, it is important to take action right away to protect yourself and your finances. Here are some steps to take if you are scammed:

  • Contact the three major credit agencies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Although loan scammers mostly focus on the fees, your personal information is in danger. Consider placing a freeze or fraud alert on your credit report. This will prohibit the scammer from opening new accounts in your name.
  • Call your bank or credit card company right away if you paid a fee using your debit or credit card. By immediately reporting the transaction as fraudulent, you might be able to prevent paying the fee. They can also help you change any compromised accounts.
  • Get in touch with your official loan servicer. They will be able to help guide you to secure your account and can help you with repayment.
  • Update your FSA ID password right away if you gave the scam company your FSA ID.

Reporting the Scams

Reporting student loan forgiveness scams is crucial to helping others avoid being scammed. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data that is collected, and the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease cybercrime.

Whether you provided financial or personal information to scammers or not, report the incident to the following authorities:

  • The Internet Crime Complaint Center: The IC3 will review your report and refer it to the appropriate federal, state, local and international agencies if necessary.
  • Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: While the CFPB might now be able to help with specific case, they will use your complaint to shut down fraudulent companies.
  • Your State Attorney General: Many State Attorney Generals take student loan forgiveness scams very seriously.

Find Legitimate Help for Student Loan Forgiveness

There are a number of government programs that help with loan forgiveness. And you can access these programs for free. So there’s no need to pay anyone for help. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers free and legitimate student loan forgiveness programs. Contact your official loan servicer to find out if you qualify.

If you’re considering student loan forgiveness, make sure you do your research and be careful of scams. There are a lot of companies and individuals out there who will try to take advantage of you. But if you’re aware of the signs of a scam, you can protect yourself.

To learn more about other scams affecting students, visit our education/scholarship scams page.

Article retrieved from Fight Cybercrime. View the original article:

2022-10-27T11:17:17-04:00August 11, 2022|

FBI Warning – Cyber Actors Target U.S. Election Officials with Invoice-Themed Phishing Campaign

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is warning U.S. election and other state and local governments about invoice-themed phishing emails that could be used to harvest officials’ login credentials. If successful, this activity may provide cyber actors with sustained, undetected access to a victim’s systems.

The FBI judges cyber actors will likely continue or increase their targeting of U.S. election officials with phishing campaigns in the lead-up to the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.

For more information about this threat and recommendations to reduce the risk of compromise, see the full alert from the FBI below.

2022-03-31T12:11:10-04:00March 31, 2022|

CISA Call with Critical Infrastructure Partners on Potential Russian Cyberattacks Against the U.S.

CISA Director Jen Easterly, Deputy Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity Matt Hartman, and Tonya Ugoretz, Deputy Assistant Director for the FBI’s cyber division, encouraged organizations of all sizes to have their Shields Up to cyber threats and take proactive measures now to mitigate risk to their networks.
They encouraged those on the line to visit to take action to protect their organizations and themselves and urged all critical infrastructure providers to implement the mitigation guidelines enumerated on https://www.CISA.Gov/Shields-Up.
CISA echoed the President’s warning on the call and reinforced the urgent need for all organizations, large and small, to act now to protect themselves against malicious cyber activity. 
2022-03-28T12:21:09-04:00March 28, 2022|

Top 5 Tax Scams Targeted to Taxpayers

As people across the nation prepare to file their 2021 tax returns, cybercriminals are taking advantage by delivering new scams designed to steal personal information and money from unsuspecting victims. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams happens when someone who pretends to work for the IRS contacts you by phone, email, postal mail, or a text message. Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars as well as their personal; information to tax scams, and it’s safe to assume that attackers will continue targeting individuals and businesses this year. Consider the following common scams and best practices to help protect yourself from falling victim to a tax-related scam this year.

Top 5 Tax Scams to Be Aware Of

1. SSN Scams

Taxpayers should be careful of new variations of tax-related scams. In the latest twist on a scam related to Social Security numbers, scammers claim to be able to suspend or cancel the victim’s SSN. Scammers may mention overdue taxes in addition to threatening to cancel the person’s SSN. If taxpayers receive a call threatening to suspend their SSN for an unpaid tax bill, they should just hang up.

Taxpayers should not give out sensitive information over the phone unless they are positive that the caller is legitimate. When in doubt –hang up. Here are some telltale signs of this scam. The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, iTunes gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
  • Ask a taxpayer to make a payment to a person or organization other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

Taxpayers who don’t owe taxes and have no reason to think they do should:

Taxpayers who owe tax or think they do should:

  • View tax account information online at to see the actual amount owed and review their payment options.
  • Call the number on the billing notice
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

2. Phone Scams

With the new tax season starting, the IRS reminds taxpayers to be aware that criminals continue to make aggressive calls posing as IRS agents in hopes of stealing taxpayer money or personal information.

Here are some telltale signs of a tax scam along with actions taxpayers can take if they receive a scam call.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.

Taxpayers who receive these phone calls should:

  • Record the number and then hang up the phone immediately.
  • Report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or by calling 800-366-4484.
  • Report the number to and be sure to put “IRS Phone Scam” in the subject line.

3. University students and staff of impersonation email scams

The IRS warned of an ongoing IRS-impersonation scam that appears to primarily target educational institutions, including students and staff who have “.edu” email addresses. The IRS has received complaints about the impersonation scam in recent weeks from people with email addresses ending in “.edu.” The phishing emails appear to target university and college students from both public and private, profit and non-profit institutions.

The suspect emails display the IRS logo and use various subject lines such as “Tax Refund Payment” or “Recalculation of your tax refund payment.” It asks people to click a link and submit a form to claim their refund.

The phishing website requests taxpayers provide their:

  • Social Security number
  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Prior Year Annual Gross Income (AGI)
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Electronic Filing PIN
  • And other personally identifiable information

People who receive this scam email should not click on the link in the email, but they can report it to the IRS. For security reasons, save the email using “save as” and then send that attachment to or forward the email as an attachment to

Taxpayers who believe they may have provided identity thieves with this information should consider immediately obtaining an Identity Protection PIN. An IP PIN is a six-digit number that helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns in the victim’s name.

Taxpayers who attempt to e-file their tax return and find it rejected because a return with their SSN already has been filed should file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit PDF, to report themselves as a possible identity theft victim. See Identity Theft Central to learn about the signs of identity theft and actions to take.

4. Tax return preparer

As people begin to file their 2021 tax returns, taxpayers are reminded to avoid unethical ghost tax return preparers.

A ghost preparer is someone who doesn’t sign tax returns they prepare. Unscrupulous ghost preparers often print the return and have the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. For e-filed returns, the ghost will prepare but refuse to digitally sign as the paid preparer.

Ghost tax return preparers may also:

  • Require payment in cash only and not provide a receipt.
  • Invent income to qualify their clients for tax credits.
  • Claim fake deductions to boost the size of the refund.
  • Direct refunds into their bank account, not the taxpayer’s account.

By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on the return. Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a quick profit by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund.

It’s important for taxpayers to choose their tax return preparer wisely. The Choosing a Tax Professional page on has information about tax preparer credentials and qualifications. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help identify many preparers by type of credential or qualification.

No matter who prepares their return, taxpayers should review it carefully and ask questions about anything that’s not clear before signing. They should verify their routing and bank account number on the completed tax return for any direct deposit refund. Taxpayers should watch out for ghost preparers putting their bank account information on the returns.

Taxpayers can report preparer misconduct to using IRS Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer PDF. If a taxpayer suspects a preparer filed or changed their tax return without their consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit PDF.

5. “Tax Transcript” email scam

The Internal Revenue Service and Security Summit partners recently warned the public of a surge of fraudulent emails impersonating the IRS and using tax transcripts as bait to entice users to open documents containing malicious software, also known as malware.

The scam is especially problematic for businesses whose employees might open the malware because it can spread throughout the network and take months to remove.

This well-known malware, known as Emotet, generally poses as specific banks and financial institutions to trick people into opening infected documents. However, in the past few weeks, the scam masqueraded as the IRS, pretending to be from “IRS Online.” The scam email carries an attachment labeled “Tax Account Transcript” or something similar, and the subject line uses some variation of the phrase “tax transcript.”

The IRS reminds taxpayers it does not send unsolicited emails to the public, nor would it email a sensitive document such as a tax transcript, which is a summary of a tax return. The IRS urges taxpayers not to open the email or the attachment. If using a personal computer, delete or forward the scam email to If you see these while using an employer’s computer, notify the company’s technology professionals.

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a warning in July about earlier versions of the Emotet in Alert (TA18-201A) Emotet Malware.

US-CERT has labeled the Emotet Malware “among the most costly and destructive malware affecting state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments, and the private and public sectors.”

Source: Tax Scams / Consumer Alerts | Internal Revenue Service

2022-02-28T18:01:28-05:00February 28, 2022|