State Police are warning of scams affecting our area.
There are different variations of the scam, but often residents will receive a phone call or a check in the mail, claiming to be from the lottery, a corporation, or a foreign county. In most cases, victims are told to cash a check, keep a small portion of the money and send the remaining amount to an address they provide. The scams promise a receipt or even a larger cash prize. If you send the check, the con artist can not only cash the check and steal the money, but also gain access to your bank account number.
Another scam involves the scammer calls the victim, pretending to be a family member in legal trouble who needs cash quickly. The scammer knows personal information about the victim’s family member by checking social media to gain the victim’s trust.
Police warn that the potential victim should ask specific questions that only a family member would know, such as extended family names, maiden names, birth dates for family members, names of pets or anniversary dates.
State Police also warn about scams from people who claim to be from the IRS. Victims are told they owe money and are threatened with deportation, arrest, or suspension of a driver’s license or business.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received nearly 55,000 complaints about IRS scams last year, which is a 25 percent increase from 2013. More than 3,000 people have been defrauded out of more than $15 million.
The IRS wants to remind people that there are five things that scammers often do that the IRS will never ask for. Any of these things are a tell-tale way to identify a scam. The IRS will never:
1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will they call regarding taxes owed without first having mailed you a notice.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving your the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Threaten to contact local police or other law enforcement agencies to have you arrested for not paying.
4. Require you use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
5. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS requesting money or bank information, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 with any payment questions.
You can also report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or www.tigta.gov.
You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant and choose “Other,” then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint includes someone impersonating the IRS, you can include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
For more information on reporting tax scams, people can visit www.irs.gov and search for “scam” in the search box.
Police are reminding people that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you believe you are a victim of a scam, save all information regarding the issue and contact police.