BOZEMAN- Montanans lost thousands of dollars last year to scammers pretending to be from the IRS, Social Security and other official agencies.
According to reports from the Better Business Bureau, last year Montanans lost over $40,000 in cash from scammers. The Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit geared towards protecting consumers when they shop in stores and online.
The BBB says phone scammers might pretend to be representatives of the IRS, Social Security administrators or members of law enforcement.
The most important thing to know is that official government agencies would never call you and demand payment over the phone. They also will never threaten to revoke your benefits if you don’t give them credit card information.
The best way to identify a scammer is if they're pressuring you to pay them immediately.
“Any big super sense of urgency is a red flag. If somebody is telling you to act now, it’s red flag number one that you’re getting scammed,” Montana Market Place Director for the Better Business Bureau Hannah Stiff said.
If you feel pressured, there is nothing wrong with hanging up the phone.
Shopping online can be just a little harder. Stiff says she heard about a shopper who found a pair of $300 designer shoes online offered at too-good-to-be-true steep discount. The product never showed up and this shopper was out the cash.
If you're shopping online, look at the URL of the website. Make sure the address starts with https://. HTTPS stands for secure, meaning that it's a verified company with a secure website.
Stiff says you can always check a company out on the Better Business Bureau's website for validity.
You can track active scams in the State of Montana here along with report them.