As we close tax filing season, residents are cautioned of the IRS scam. Scammers call people in attempt to have them wire money to satisfy an outstanding IRS debt they owe. These criminals claim to be IRS agents threatening to arrest people, suspend their driver’s license or increase a debt that they already have if they do not make immediate payment. They may require payment through a prepaid debit card or wiring funds through Western Union.
Things to look for in the IRS scam;
- Scammers may know personal information such as last 4 digits of SSN
- Scammers may use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers
- Scammers may alter caller ID’s to reflect IRS shows up on victims caller ID
- Scammers may follow phone calls up with fake emails
The IRS initiates business through the US mail. If you feel you may have an outstanding issue with the IRS, please initiate a phone call to the IRS by calling 1.800.829.1040.
According to the IRS, as of March 9, 2015 3000 people have fell victim to this scam in a reported 15.5 million dollars in losses. This is an average of $5,000.00 per victim and the largest single loss was $500,000.00.
Please be aware of other scams, unfortunately scams have been surfacing for years and most likely will continue. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with some of the more frequent scams;
A grandparent receives a phone call (or sometimes an e-mail) from a “grandchild.” If it is a phone call, it’s often late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking that clearly. Usually, the person claims to be traveling in a foreign country and has gotten into a bad situation, like being arrested for drugs, getting in a car accident, or being mugged…and needs money wired ASAP. And the caller doesn’t want his or her parents told.
Sometimes, instead of the “grandchild” making the phone call, the criminal pretends to be an arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person. And we’ve also received complaints about the phony grandchild talking first and then handing the phone over to an accomplice…to further spin the fake tale.
We’ve also seen military families victimized: after perusing a soldier’s social networking site, a con artist will contact the soldier’s grandparents, sometimes claiming that a problem came up during military leave that requires money to address.
While it’s commonly called the grandparent scam, criminals may also claim to be a family friend, a niece or nephew, or another family member.
You receive a letter, email or text message saying you have won a prize in a lottery or sweepstakes that you did not even enter.
You are asked to send a fee or bank account details to collect your prize. Legitimate lotteries do not require you to pay a fee to collect winnings.
A full street address is not given. Instead, a post office (PO) box number, email address or mobile phone number is provided as a contact point.
The sender claims that they have identified you as a winner by randomly choosing your email address. Official lottery offices do not select prize winners this way nor do they use email to advise players that a prize has been won. Sweepstake scammers email as many people as they can.
The sender claims the offer is legal. The sender claims the offer has government approval.
Public awareness is the only way to eliminate these scams. Unfortunately, investigating these crimes are very difficult because in most cases the scammers are working outside the United States.
Here are some general tips to avoid scams and identity theft.
- Do not wire money to anyone you are not familiar with
- Do not open unsolicited emails
- You initiate phone calls to the IRS for inquires@ 1-800-829-1040
- Avoid donating through phone solicitation
- Take your time and do not let someone rush you into making a bad decision
- If it seems suspicious, it usually is, when in doubt call your police dept.
- Review your social media profiles and make sure your personal and family information is not public. (Grandparent Scam)
- Shred your personal information, this is another gateway to becoming a victim of fraud and scams
- Be skeptical do not trust anyone, report anything you think is suspicious to your local police.
- Obtain an annual credit report, you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order online from annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.
Chief Kevin T. Davenport
Sea Girt Police Department