Each month, we will be partnering with the Better Business Bureau to bring you the latest information and tips about local, regional and national scams, fraud and identity theft.

Tax Scam Avoidance

Tax scams are among the most stubborn cons out there. They reappear often, each time with a slightly different spin. The main theme is scammers posing as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the U.S., trying to trick people into either paying up or sharing personal information. Remember that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

Tips to Avoid Tax Scams

  • The best way to avoid tax identity theft is to file your taxes as early as possible. File before a scammer has the chance to use your information to file a fake return.
  • Jot down your Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS before you file your return. This is a six-digit number, which, in addition to your Social Security number, confirms your identity. It is important to note that you cannot opt-out once you get an IP PIN.
  • Only deal with trustworthy tax preparation services. For many people, major life changes, business ownership, or simply a lack of knowledge about the ever-changing tax laws make finding a trustworthy tax preparer a good idea. That said, not all tax preparers have the same level of experience and training. BBB has a list of reputable tax preparers to consider at www.bbb.org.

March Madness Tips – Betting and Ticket-Buying

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban in 2018, sports gambling has exploded in popularity. If you’re planning on getting in on the action, first learn how you can maximize your fun and play responsibly. BBB offers the following tips:

  • Make sure sports betting is legal in your state. While the federal ban was struck down in 2018, not every state has decided to allow sports betting just yet. Do your research to determine if you can legally place a bet where you live.
  • Understand gambling terminology. A basic wager in which you bet on who will win a game is called a money line bet, but there are many other terms you’ll need to get to know as well. Get familiar with point-spread, prop and futures bets and how each works. In addition, learn what terms like juice, parlay, total, and teaser mean before you start placing bets.
  • Set limits for yourself. The International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) recommends establishing what constitutes an acceptable loss before you start gambling. Knowing when to stop and only gamble with money you can afford to lose is critical. You may also want to set time limits for yourself regarding sports betting.

Securing tickets to popular sporting events and concerts can be difficult and competitive. Many stadiums and venues have gone to only accepting digital tickets, making the possibility for scams all the more likely.

Tips for Buying Tickets

Whether you are looking for tickets for a game, concert tickets, or any other event, the following tips should be considered:

  • Purchase from the venue whenever possible. Many official ticket sales agents now offer secondary sales options, as well.
  • Consider your source. Know the difference between a professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling scam tickets.
  • Buy only from trusted vendors. Buy online only from vendors you know and trust. Look for the lock symbol in the web address to indicate a secure purchasing system. Don’t click through emails or online ads; a common ticket scam trick is to create a web address that is similar to a well-known company.

Top Consumer Protection Tips

BBB has partnered with the Federal Trade Commission to help consumers learn how to avoid fraud and recognize the signs of scams. This provides an opportunity to evaluate the ways in which you as a consumer can best safeguard against scams. Here are 10 tips to consider to ensure your experience is as safe as possible:

  • Don’t send money to someone you have not met
  • Never click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails
  • Don’t trust the legitimacy of something by its looks
  • Don’t trust your caller ID
  • Buy online only from legitimate sources
  • Look up companies before transacting with them
  • Treat your personal information like gold
  • Anyone pressuring you to act quickly could be a scammer
  • Get details in writing
  • Don’t overshare on social media
  • Keep your travel plans to yourself
  • Shred sensitive information
  • Monitor your accounts
  • Use strong passwords

If you or someone you know is the victim of fraud, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker.


For more information to safeguard from fraud and identity theft, please click the headlines below.

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