The Great Bend Police Department and the Barton County Sheriff’s Office both received reports this past week from people who were the intended victims of con artists. They reported getting phone calls from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.
One caller told a Hoisington woman she owed the IRS a lot of money and she was to call the agency provided. However, the woman realized the call was a fraud and did not lose any money.
She provided the Barton County Sheriff’s Office with two telephone numbers related to the attempted scam: 202-470-6039 and 239-968-2162.
The IRS routinely issues warnings of this pervasive telephone scam. According to one IRS bulletin, immigrants are frequently targeted. Potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked. Callers are frequently insulting or hostile – apparently to scare their potential victims.
Potential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
The fact that the message is relayed over the telephone is a sure sign that a scammer is at work.
The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.
Other characteristics of this scam include:
• Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
• Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
• Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
• Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
• Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
• After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS, 800-829-1040.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, 800-366-4484.
You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
For more information or to report a scam, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.