The Internal Revenue Service and the NYS Department of State Division of Consumer Protection recently issued new warnings to consumers about scammers attempting to steal personal or financial information. NYSTRS urges you to be vigilant with protecting yourself from imposters.
According to the IRS, taxpayers report receiving an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS but is from a fake email address linked to a bogus website. The email instructs the recipient to access refund information by entering a provided password on the website. Entering the password downloads malware onto the person’s computer which can allow scammers to access sensitive information.
The state Consumer Protection Division also warns consumers that there has been an increase in phone scammers pretending to be from official state agencies or the Social Security Administration. State officials remind you never to give out personal or financial information, such as date of birth, Social Security number or bank account number in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious about the caller.
"Government agencies do not typically call people with little or no warning asking for sensitive information or trying to get a payment over the phone," NYS Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said in a news release. "If it seems suspicious, it probably is."
Scammers are increasingly using sophisticated technology to manipulate phone numbers in caller ID systems, so it looks like the call is coming from a legitimate government agency – a fraudulent activity called "spoofing." If you get a call from someone claiming to represent a government agency, hang up and call the agency back using the phone number from an official source, such as the agency’s website.
Be aware that NYSTRS will never call you and request a payment over the phone. Any requests for payment will be provided to you in writing. There are rare instances where we may call to discuss money you owe to NYSTRS, but this will always be followed by written communication confirming the details.
The best protection against scammers is staying well-informed about common scams. The NYS Division of Consumer Protection is an excellent source of information about current scams and how to stay safe. Go to the division’s website and click on the Consumer Alert & Recalls tab to find current scam alerts, tips on scam prevention and detailed descriptions of multiple scam activities.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, contact your local police agency as well as the state Division of Consumer Protection, the state Attorney General’s Office and/or your local consumer protection agency so they can warn others and offer assistance. Information is also available from the IRS.