security — March 26, 2014

March Madness - Fake It Until You Make It

by Bob Williams

phone scams

The American phrase is, “Everybody Likes the Underdog,” and I have to say that’s true for me in this year’s NCAA College Basketball Championships. I’m rooting for the little guys, the teams we haven’t seen in a while, teams that just don’t get the press of the major college powers.

Let’s get to it.

First, the nerds of Harvard sadly didn’t make it past the second round. Michigan State sent the Crimson back home, and setting the stage for a game against Virginia. I have to admit, it would have been awesome to have a national champion who could work out the drag coefficient of a 3-point shot – as well as make one.


Even with Harvard’s demise, two Davids have survived in an army of Goliaths. The Dayton Flyers made it to the Sweet 16 by first upsetting Ohio State, the knocking off Syracuse. Syracuse!! They’ll take on Stanford in this round.

My other emotional favorite is Baylor. The Bears shucked Nebraska, and then clipped the Creighton BlueJays’ wings 85-55 to set up a classic David-Goliath matchup with Wisconsin.

Elsewhere, we see names that are no strangers to the NCAA tournament – or the Sweet 16, for that matter.

The third round also saw some pretty wide margins of victory. Florida, No. 1 in the South, embarrassed Pittsburgh 61-45; over in the West, top seed Arizona rolled over Gonzaga 84-61; and San Diego State surfed past North Dakota State 63-44. And that leads to the rest of the coming matchups:

Florida will battle UCLA in the South; Iowa State plays Connecticut in the East; Arizona and San Diego State tangle in the West; and Tennessee takes on Michigan in the Midwest. The grudge match is Kentucky vs. Louisville in the Midwest.

The Art of Misdirection

One of the most effective moves in basketball – college or otherwise – is The Fake.

There’s the Head Fake; there’s the Body Fake; and then there’s the Leave-Your-Shorts-On-The-Foul-Line Fake. Any one of them can leave a would-be defender stuck in his tracks while you go waltzing to the goal. When it’s done right on the court, a good fake is a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately, criminals have taken a cue from the sports world, and they’ve learned the value of a fake. Only this one ain’t pretty.

Don’t Fall for the Fake

The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) has issued a warning to taxpayers, telling them to look out for phone calls from individuals who claim to represent the IRS, when in fact, they’re looking to defraud the consumer.

It all starts with an unsolicited telephone call to a taxpayer from a scammer, who claims to be an IRS official and says the taxpayer owes back taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If the taxpayer balks, the scammer threatens them with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration, calls this scam “the largest of its kind.” George says TIGTA has gotten reports of more than 20,000 such contacts. He says thousands of taxpayers have made payments to the scammers totaling more than $1 million.

 George says the scammers will frequently:

  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers;
  • Know the last four digits of your Social Security Number;
  • Make your Caller ID look as if the IRS is really on the line;
  • Send fake e-mails in support of their scam;
  • Call a second time, claiming to be your police department or DMV.

The truth? The IRS contacts people by mail first, not by phone, if they owe back taxes. And the IRS will NEVER ask for immediate payment with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS will also not ask for a credit card number over the phone.

If you get a call, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you think you owe back tax. If you do not owe back taxes, call the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration at 800-366-4484.

Don’t fall for the fake. Stand your ground and block the shot.

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