It’s National Consumer Protection Week

Hampden County

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Every year, millions of Americans lose their identity and money online and over the phone.

One of the latest schemes has online criminals posing as health officials in an attempt to profit off people’s fears over the coronavirus. In 2019, more than 400,000 people reported criminals pretending to be from government agencies. They’ll often threaten to have you arrested or freeze your financial accounts unless you comply with their demands.

“What the cybercriminals rely on is your emotion,” said Ray Maagaro, Liberty Tax Franchisee. “So if they can get any emotional reaction from you and get you to react right away to their threats, that’s how they win the money essentially.”

These criminals will try to get your social security number, bank accounts, and other personal information through emails. You could also get a suspicious phone call from them. If you do, just hang up.

These fake calls and emails are even more prevalent during tax season. Maagaro told 22News the IRS will never call you, but they may ask you to verify the information for your tax return, by mailing you a letter. If you get a call from an impostor, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the police immediately.

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