December 11, 2023

Scams & Fraud

IRS Impostor Scam

Although this scam is more common around tax season, it is important to be aware of this scam all year long. In this scam the criminal will call you, either in person or through a Robo call, or send a message through email or other electronic means, and in the most brazen of cases, actually show up at your door impersonating agents of the Internal Revenue Service, FBI or other law enforcement agencies informing you that you have an unpaid tax bill and that you are going to be arrested if you do not pay up immediately. First, the IRS will never call you, send you an electronic message, or show up at your door and threaten you with arrest for an unpaid tax bill and ask you to pay over the phone, through an email or on the spot to an agent who shows up at your door. If you get a call like this, hang up immediately. Never give out any of your personal information over the phone, even if the caller already has some of this information and asks you to provide the rest of the information to “verify” who you are. If you get an email or other electronic message purporting to be from the IRS, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Forward any unsolicited emails in which someone claims to be from the IRS or the Treasury Department to [email protected]. In no event should you give out any personal information, especially your Social Security number or banking information, to anyone demanding immediate payment on any tax debt. The IRS does not operate like that. If you actually owe back taxes, you will get a bill in the mail and have an opportunity to appeal or to question the amount owed. But even then, if you want to talk to somebody at the IRS, look up their number in your local phone book, or get it directly from the official website at IRS.

For more information: [Click Here]


Census Scams

With the 2020 census starting up shortly it is important to be on the lookout for scammers pretending to work for the census bureau, but whose real purpose is to try to steal our money and personal information. Scammers may attempt to contact you by phone, regular mail, email or even home visits. Some attempt to direct you to phony websites which ask for your personal and financial information. A real census worker will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card information. They won’t ask about your work schedule. They won’t ask you for money. They will never threaten you with jail time if you don’t answer their questions. Keep alert for anyone asking for this type of information, and report them to law enforcement and the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division [].

For more information: [Click Here]


Grandparent Scam

A particularly abhorrent scam is the scam where someone, impersonating a grandchild, or sometimes some other loved one, will call and state that they are in some sort of trouble and need immediate financial assistance. In some cases it will be for bail to get out of jail, money to pay a fine, or for some other financial request. Often the alleged grandchild will turn the phone over to another imposter pretending to be a police officer, lawyer, doctor etc. to “verify” the call. The fake grandchild will often beg you to not tell their parent, spouse or other relative and to keep this a secret. Often these callers will pretend that they are in a foreign country when they call. The easiest way to protect yourself from these types of scams is to ask for a call back number, hang up and call your grandchild (or other loved one who called) using the phone number that you already had for them, and/or call the person who they begged you not to call about the call. Make sure you verify using numbers that you had prior to the possible scam phone call.

For more information: [Click Here]


Tech Support Scams

Another scam making the rounds are those where a caller tells you that they are from Microsoft, Norton, McAfee, Apple or some other tech company and that your computer has a virus or some other technical problem that they can fix for you over the phone. Sometimes, while surfing the Internet and you will receive a pop-up ad displaying warning messages, sometimes even with a clock ticking down the minutes until your computer will be destroyed, unless you call a number for assistance in fixing the problem. These phone calls and pop-up messages are always scams. Never do anything these callers ask you to do, and never call the number in the pop-up ad. What they are attempting to do is to get you to give them remote access to your computer where they can then plant the virus and/or steal personal information from your computer. If you get a phone call from someone pretending to be tech support, hang up immediately. If you get a pop-up ad on your computer that you cannot close, shut down your computer immediately using the power button, and turn off your Internet before attempting to turn the computer back on. If the warning ad is still there, turn off the computer and ask a friend or relative (or local computer repair business) for assistance. If you haven’t done so already, install anti-virus and anti-malware programs on your computer to help protect yourself from online threats.

For more information:  [Click Here]


Charity Scams

Charity scams come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Some examples include fraudulent fundraising to help veterans, law enforcement and/or firefighters and disaster relief. With these types of scams your best protection is simply to refuse to give anything immediately.  A real charity will welcome your donation anytime you choose to make it, so a demand for an immediate donation should always raise your suspicions.  Ask for them to send you more information so that you can verify their organization.  Check legitimate charity watchdog websites like the Better Business Bureau’s “Wise Giving Alliance” , “Charity Navigator” or “Charity Watch” to verify it is a legitimate charity before considering a donation.

For more information: [Click Here]



The above examples are only a small sample of the many scams that you could face in your day to day life.  Whether it be robocalls (over 82 million in South Dakota last year alone), electronic messages (texts, emails, etc.) on our phones and computers, or scammers targeting us through internet sites and social media websites, scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and hard to spot. It has never been more important for citizens to learn as much as they can about the various ways people will try to trick you out of your money and/or personal information.  To learn more, click on the following links to help you to protect yourself from this new brand of criminals.


South Dakota Attorney General Consumer Protection

AARP Scams & Fraud information

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Federal Trade Commission

Internal Revenue Service



Last updated: 7/31/19

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