Tax Time Brings Out Thieves
Sheriff Groves Warns of Tax Scams
Tax Day, April 15th, is upon us and again this year; thieves are working hard to scare residents into turning over their personal information, such as social security numbers and bank account numbers. Our office has already been made aware of several residents receiving calls from people claiming to be representatives with the IRS, who advise the caller they owe back taxes and if not paid immediately, the Sheriff will come and arrest them. I assure you that’s not going to happen. These thieves are trying to use fear and intimidation tactics to get would-be victims to turn over information they need to open fraudulent credit card accounts.
Another scam, which we saw last year, involves a phony IRS official telling the would-be victim that they are going to receive a refund, but need to verify the personal and bank information in order to process the payment. Sometimes, the thieves will have some information, such as your name, birthday, and address, but may be missing one or two key points, such as your social security number. They may also send a potential victim an email from an email address that appears to be from a legitimate government agency. It isn’t.
The IRS will never call you to demand immediate payment, nor will they ever call you because of taxes you owe before first sending you a bill in the mail. The IRS will also not require you pay taxes or a fine without asking questions or appealing the amount you owe. Furthermore, they will not require that any money be paid in a specific way, such as by using a pre-paid debit card. If someone calls you and demands payment for anything using a pre-paid debit card, a red flag should be raised. The IRS will also never ask for your credit or debit card number over the phone. And finally, the IRS will not threaten to send law enforcement to arrest you for not paying.
The IRS is very well aware of these scams that cost victims in excess of $23 million over the past several years and take measures to help insure residents’ identity is not stolen, while dealing with any legitimate tax issues that may arise.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s always a good practice to be suspicious of anyone calling you and asking for personal information. If the call is unsolicited, even if the caller says they are from an institution or organization you are familiar with, be suspicious. The IRS scammers have made over 736,000 scam contacts across the country since October 2013, so they are well-polished at what they are doing. These thieves know what to say and how to say it in order to trick or scare someone into giving up their identity.
Don’t ever hesitate to hang up on someone who is asking for your information. If something seems suspicious, trust your instincts and end the call. You don’t have to be polite, they are trying to steal your money, just hang up. If you do receive a call from an IRS Impersonator, you can contact our office at 620-429-3992 or the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
I also encourage residents this time of year to obtain your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion each provide you with a free copy of your credit report, upon your request, every 12 months. You can obtain your credit reports by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. By reviewing this report, you can see if anyone has opened a fraudulent credit card in your name or see if there is any other suspicious activity on it.
As always, if you believe you have been targeted by a scam, or worse, if you find that you are a victim of these scams, please contact our office.
Sheriff David M. Groves