Report a scam here!
OCP will forward your report to federal agencies (such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center) that have the resources to investigate and prosecute the worst con artists. While you will not receive feedback from those agencies about your specific experience, rest assured that the information you and others provide is important to these agencies in tracking down perpetrators, developing evidence and bringing enforcement actions.
OCP will also use the information you provide to alert others about the latest scams.
The following scams have recently been reported by residents in Howard County. We have provided general descriptions of what you may encounter if a con artist contacts you.
Back to School Scams
The high school diploma scam
For those of us who didn’t complete high school in a traditional setting, programs are available to finish coursework and earn a diploma. But scammers have identified ways of capitalizing on people seeking to earn their degrees later in life, and falling for one of these scams costs victims money and time and still results in no diploma. If you or a loved one are going back to school to complete a high school degree, watch out for these red flags:
Going back to school to finish earning a high school degree is a worthwhile endeavor. However, to avoid getting scammed, always check in with your local community college to see what option is best for you. Your local community college can also help you decide whether you want to take an equivalency test or a class from a legitimate operator.
The “student tax” scam
Imagine that while you are packing up your things to move into your new dorm, you receive an urgent phone call from the IRS. The “agent” informs you that you did not fill out your tax forms properly and you failed to pay your student tax, which helps pay for your public university. He notifies you that if you do not pay it immediately, you will not only be prevented from taking classes but that you will also face imprisonment!
While IRS imposter scams, like this scenario, can happen at any time of year, they tend to spike when scammers spot an opportunity to strike. Fortunately, knowing the telltale signs of an IRS imposter can help you steer clear of this scam.
Finding ways to pay for school can be challenging. Unfortunately, fraudsters know this and have devised numerous scholarship scams to cheat students out of their tuition money. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself:
Amazon Phishing Scam
You receive an email that appears to be from Amazon with the subject line “Your Amazon.com order cannot be shipped.” Claiming there is a problem processing orders, the message says, “You will not be able to access your account or place orders with us until we confirm your information.” A “click here” link leads to an authentic-looking page that asks you to confirm your name, address and credit card information (including expiration and CVV security code) — everything fraudsters need to make unauthorized charges. After entering that sensitive data and hitting the Save & Continue tab, consumers are stealthily redirected to the actual Amazon website, none the wiser that they just gave cybercrooks carte blanche to their plastic.
Don’t take the bait. Never click on an embedded link from Amazon (or any other online retailer). To find out if an email like this is legit, Amazon urges you go to “Your Orders” to determine if there is an order that matches the details in an email. If they don’t match, the message isn’t legitimate. Visit Amazon’s info page for more information.
Government Impostor Scams
How the scam works - You receive a phone call (or e-mail) from someone who claims to be with a government or law enforcement agency such as the Social Security Administration, IRS, US Treasury, US ICE, Maryland District Court or Howard County Police. The caller sounds official and your Caller ID may even indicate (falsely) that the call is from the agency cited by the caller. The caller is, in fact, an imposter working a scam.
The caller will claim that you failed to pay a traffic ticket, or owe a fine failing to appear for jury duty. The caller claims that you could be arrested if you don’t pay a fine or that a warrant has already been issued for your arrest. Non-US citizens may be threatened with deportation.
You will then be instructed to send money to the caller in order to avoid arrest. You may be asked to provide a bank account number, wire money, or put money on a s cash reload card and give the PIN to the scammer. In some cases, the scam may be used to trick you into providing sensitive personal information such as your Social Security Number, date of birth, or credit card or debit card number.
To avoid this scam, remember:
If you are concerned that you may actually owe fines or have missed jury duty or a court date, contact the agency or court directly by looking up the phone number online or in the phone book and calling them yourself.
Bottom Line - Don't pay money or give personal information to anyone you don't know before independently confirming their identity
For more information:
Use caution if:
Still Not Sure?