IRS warns of phone, e-mail scams
FAIRFIELD — Based on the 90,000 complaints received to date, the Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration along with the Internal Revenue service issued a warning to citizens: “Be vigilant against phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS as a lure.”
“There are clear warning about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a release issued by the IRS. “Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS would not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail.”
The IRS warns that any person or entity that requests a credit or debit card over the telephone, or who requests immediate payment over the phone pending possible enforcement action is a potential scam.
Additionally, scammers may try again using another method if unsuccessful at baiting their prey the first time.
Captain David Thomas of the Fairfield Police Department said the department receives several calls monthly regarding scams.
“We get about two or three calls a month,” he said. “We get a lot of older people calling in; seems like younger people are already aware of the scams out there, so they don’t call us.”
Thomas said there are various types of scams requesting money going on all over the Internet as well as over the telephone.
“The biggest thing that we see is that the scams are always changing,” he said. “They come up with new things,” he continued. “Now that people are used to the lottery scams, now it’s the IRS Federal Agents.”
Thomas recanted a story where an elderly Fairfield resident received a call from a scammer claiming to be a Federal IRS Agent while in Thomas’s presence.
“I got on the phone and asked him, ‘Do you understand that it is a crime to impersonate a federal agent?’” Thomas said.
After being told that he owed $10,000 in back taxes, the resident had already sent $20. He was headed to Walmart to send out $300 more via Green Dot Card.
Though he couldn’t recall owing any money, Thomas said, “he thought the IRS had screwed up.”
According to the IRS site, many consumers have fallen prey to this sort of crime. And some of those victims have lost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars without any hope of recouping their losses.
Thomas said many of these scammers are overseas, making it nearly impossible to shut the operations down completely.
“They set up a house and the law will raid it,” Thomas said. “But they just set another one up in another location; the people making the calls are not the ones making all of the money.” He added. “It’s a very frustrating crime.”
For more information, or to report an IRS scam, go to: www. IRS.gov.