Consumer Assistance Program : University of Vermont

University of Vermont

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Consumer Hotline:  Toll Free In VT (800)649-2424 or (802) 656-3183

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              TOP SCAMS OF 2014

Use this scam information as a reminder to stay informed about current issues facing consumers.  Share your knowledge with friends, family, and neighbors to help prevent others from being scammed. 

Top Scams of 2014


Protect yourself from scams!   Here is the list of the Top 10 Scams of 2014, as reported to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office Consumer Assistance Program.

#1:  IRS Debt Collection:  A scam telephone call saying you owe “back taxes” or outstanding payments due to the government, typically from callers claiming to be “Internal Revenue Service”, “IRS”, and “US Treasury and Legal Affairs.”  Don’t respond to these callers.  If you think you may actually owe back taxes, hang up and contact the IRS directly at 1 (800) 829-1040.

#2:  Computer Tech Support Phishing/Telemarketing:  Caller claim to be from Microsoft/Windows or other tech company claiming there is a virus or other serious problem with your computer.    They will try to persuade you to give remote access to your computer.  Never allow remote access to your computer or click links in a strange e-mail or pop-up message!  Do not pay an unknown entity!

#3:  Fake Debt Collection (other than IRS):  Calls from fake debt collectors making threats, including lawsuit, wage garnishment, and arrest.  Most attempt to collect nonexistent debts and even make claims that utilities will be disconnected if payment is not made immediately. Never pay a harassing collector over the phone; demand proof of the debt in writing and verify the debt with the original creditor!  If you are concerned about possible disconnection, hang up and contact the vendor directly!

#4:  Phishing: Attempts to collect personal and sensitive information, which is typically used to steal someone’s identity.  In the most common phishing scams, the perpetrator claims to be calling from a person’s bank and requires account information to re-activate their account.   Never give account information to unknown callers!  Don’t respond to emails that request this information!

#5:  Sweepstakes/Lotteries/Prizes:  Claims that recipient will obtain funds if they pay an upfront fee, typically for registration or taxes.  These scams usually start with a phone call or mailing, claiming that you won money or a prize, but have to make a payment in order to receive it.  Sometimes realistic-looking fake checks are used to entice the victims and claim to cover a portion of the fees.  The check bounces and no “winnings” are ever dispersed.  Never pay upfront to receive winnings!  If you won something, they should pay you, not the other way around!

#6:  Business-Targeted Scams:  Vermont businesses were also on the receiving end of scams, including fake orders of goods or services, fake invoices, and promotions in the guise of a bill.  Particularly, businesses were contacted by debt collectors, claiming business’ utilities (electric or gas) would be disconnected if they did not pay immediately.  Establish processes to ensure every bill paid is a bill actually owed!

#7:  Card Services Phishing:  Phishing attempts to obtain credit card information typically come in the form of a robocall or text message; the message is that you can lower your credit card interest rate.  This is an attempt to gain personal information that can be used to commit identity theft.  Sometimes credit cards will also be charged for consolidation services, which are unlawful in VT if the entity is not licensed. Don’t reply to unsolicited phone calls, texts, and robocalls!

#8:  Tax and Other Identity Theft:  Many consumers reported being the victims of identify theft from various scams.  In particular, reports of Tax Identity Theft increased both in Vermont and nationally; on filing a tax-return, the consumer learns that a scammer has already filed a return using his SSN and received a refund.  The IRS suggests filing as early as possible in the tax season to prevent fraudsters from receiving your tax return.  Never give out your personal information!

#9:  Grandparent Imposter:  This scam targets seniors!   Seniors receive a call from a scammer impersonating their grandchildren, reportedly in distress and needing money to be wired or sent on a reloadable card.  Never wire or otherwise send funds unless you can verify the emergency!
#10:  Craigslist/Online Listings:  These on-line scams involve fake rental listings and requests to cash a fake check and send money to a shipper/agent in order to complete an online transaction.  Be cautions when dealing online.  Never give out personal information before seeing a rental listing in person.  Be suspicious when someone wants to pay you more for something than what it is worth; make arrangements to pay in cash and in person whenever possible!

Know how to spot a fraud - Vermonters' best defense against these predatory activities is to understand and avoid these scams altogether. Visit the Consumer Assistance Program website or call for more information.  

What is CAP?

The Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) helps Vermonters solve disputes with businesses, protect themselves from fraud and access available services. In partnership with UVM, CAP operates a consumer hotline, mediates consumer disputes with businesses, tracks fraud and scam complaints and recovers thousands of dollars yearly for consumers.  

CAP accepts complaints in writing via our on-line form, e-mail, or mail.  Please note that any information you submit to our office is public record and will be FORWARDED TO THE BUSINESS named in your complaint.  When writing to us, please be sure to provide us with a brief summary of your complaint, your mailing address and daytime telephone number, and the address and phone number for the business named in your complaint.  If you send us any documents, please send us copies only, as we may not be able to return documents submitted to our office.

Vermont consumers can contact the Consumer Assistance Program with any questions, concerns or requests for more information toll free in Vermont at (800) 649-2424 or at (802) 656-3183, or visit our website at

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Receive a phone call that concerns you? Click here to find out more about collection calls, telemarketing calls, charitable solicitations and telephone scams.  

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Unexpected check in the mail?  Want to stop collection notices?  Click here to find out more about solicitations, scams and other problems in the mail.

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Trouble with a product or service? Paid someone to work on your home and now they won't show up?  Click here to find out more about your rights as a Vermont consumer.

  • Consumer Assistance Program, 146 University Place, Burlington, VT 05405
  • Email:
  • Toll Free in Vermont: (800)649-2424
  • Outside of Vermont: (802)656-3183
  • FAX: (802)304-1014

Last modified July 14 2015 02:33 PM

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