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In a "sophisticated phone scam," fraudsters are telling consumers they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer, the Internal Revenue Service said last week.
The IRS warned consumers that the scam is hitting "nearly every state in the country."
“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a news release.
The IRS noted that the first IRS contact on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.
If you've been the target of this scam, the IRS recommends contacting the Federal Trade Commission using their "FTC Complaint Assistant", and add "IRS telephone scam" in the comments of the complaint.
Two Minnesota-based companies recalled two children's products Tuesday, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Target recalled 69,000 units of a Circo-brand sitting stool after seven reports of the stools breaking or
collapsing and causing a child to fall. In five of the incidents, bumps, bruises and cuts were reported, according to the CPSC.
Minnetonka-based BreathableBaby LLC recalled 15,000 units of their wearable infant blankets, BreathableSack because the zipper pull tabs and sliders can detach, posing a choking hazard.
Only those blankets marked with a manufacture date of 04/17/2012 from Lot No. 124 are being recalled.
A rent-to-own chain secretly monitored customers through webcams on the computers they rented, capturing "intimate activities" and personal information, such as login credentials for email and financial accounts, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC reached a settlement last week with Aaron's Inc, an Atlanta-based company that rents computers, furniture and other electronics, after the FTC alleged Aaron's installed software on rental computers that tracked customers.
Aaron's monitoring activities included location tracking, but the FTC says they also "captured images through the computers' webcams, including those of adults engaged in intimate activities, and activated keyloggers that captured users' login credentials for email accounts and financial and social media sites."
The company must delete and destroy any stored information that was improperly collected. The company is also prohibited from using monitoring technology.
The company is allowed to install location tracking software of a rented products but must first give "clear notice and obtain express consent from consumers."
Consumers who like to shop may be enticed to enter a secret shopping program, but the Better Business Bureau says mailings attempting to introduce people to mystery shopping are usually bogus.
Typically marketing companies businesses hire secret shoppers to evaluate the customer service or to gather information on a specific product. For example, a clothing store may want to ensure their employees are asking customers to sign up for a store credit card, so the company may hire secret shoppers who will go the store and then answer a survey.
The BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota said some secret shopping schemes look official because the scammers mail real-looking checks from legitimate businesses, sometimes sent via UPS or FedEx.
"The checks are bogus and these businesses have no association with these schemes," the BBB said in a news release Tuesday.
Firms do not typically send out checks to lure in potential secret shoppers,according to the BBB. "At best, being a secret shopper offers supplemental income."
The BBB advises visiting the Mystery Shopping Providers Association website, mysteryshop.org, for a list of reputable mystery shopping companies.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce urged consumers last week to research investment offers and services before making their investments.
The department said the recent lifting of an 80-year old ban on advertising of private offerings has the potential to lead to greater abuse.
"This is a reminder for investors that whether using a new crowdfunding portal or an accredited investor aggregator, it is important to do your due diligence and to understand the risks involved when using an unregulated third party," the department said in a statement released last week.
The department also released an updated list of top threats to investors and small businesses, compiled by the North American Security Administrators Association.
Here are the top investment schemes for 2013, according to the NASAA:
New Investor Threats
New Small Business Threats
|Crime (1)||Employment (1)|
|Whistleblower (439)||Home Improvement (4)|
|Advertising claims (64)||Businesses in hot water (287)|
|Buyer beware (181)||Civil liberties (19)|
|Complaint sagas (109)||Corruption (1)|
|Dangerous products (49)||Free speech (1)|
|Government spends your money (30)||How to blow the whistle (12)|
|Loopholes (10)||Neighborhood nuisances (36)|
|Polling problems (21)||Problems on the job (14)|
|Property problems (44)||Public records (35)|
|Scams (142)||Seniors (39)|
|Whistleblowers (22)||Discrimination (4)|