They steal your money and your identity: online scammers, con artists and bad guys are all over the Internet, especially now during tax season (Tax Day is April 18), and especially on Craigslist and Facebook. We talked with Detective Mark Marland, a fraud specialist with the St. Petersburg Police Department, about the current scams preying on Tampa Bay consumers. Watch out for these:
* People emailing or calling claiming to be the IRS. They make threats and ask for money/personal information. These people are 99% NOT with the IRS, but if you want to make sure, you can contact the IRS RIGHT HERE.
* A real government agency will NEVER ask you to wire money or ask for personal information.
* Only on extremely rare occasions will IRS call you. They will NOT email.
Craigslist Cons & Facebook Phonies
* Let's say you're selling a couch for $500 on Craigslist. A scammer will send you a (bad) check or a (phony) money order for $1,000, asking you to send back the difference. Beware buyers willing to send a substantial amount of "extra" money.
* Also, when meeting buyers/sellers to exchange money or goods, only do so during daylight hours in a public place. Or go to a police station and make the transaction there. A list of Craigslist "safe zones" can be found here.
Protect That Social!
* To an online scammer, your Social Security number is just as valuable as your bank account number.
* NEVER email important personal information.
* Shred important mail when possible. ABC Action News will host the free Operation Shredding event April 22. For more information on that, GO HERE.
* If you've been a victim of identity theft, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission RIGHT HERE.