ANCHORAGE — With Alaskans ready to cash their Permanent Fund dividends, regulators and consumer protection organizations are seeing an increase in scams looking to snatch up the annual payout.
The state paid more than 644,000 recipients $2,072 on Thursday. That same day, the Better Business Bureau and the Anchorage Police Department received several complaints about callers posing as IRS agents who threatened lawsuits if payments were not made immediately, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.
Better Business Bureau Alaska regional manager Michelle Tabler said the IRS typically mails several payment notices and cannot accept credit or debit card payments, leading her to believe those calls were fraudulent.
Police suggest notifying the IRS directly if people find that a caller is claiming to be from the federal tax collection agency.
“Legitimate businesses aren’t the only ones that know we get the money,” said Kristy Naylor, chief of enforcement and securities at the state Division of Banking and Securities. “Others will come out of the woodwork.”
Officials warn scams can also include vacation and investment clubs whose aggressive representatives demand up-front payments, fake charities posing as legitimate ones and phony talent agents offering to launch children’s careers.
“There are always scams and unfair, deceptive business practices going on. Any wind of Alaskans receiving dividend payments will likely increase that activity,” said Davyn Williams, assistant attorney general at the state Department of Law.
The Department of Law warns that the Cancer Exam Network, Children’s Safety Bureau and Search and Rescue Charities may sound like trustworthy organizations, but that they were found to be making misleading statements while soliciting contributions.
Naylor said websites like Craigslist and Backpage can also have traps, and people should generally stay away from deals that sounds too good to be true.
“Do your homework before you give up your money,” Naylor said. “Don’t part with it easily.”