(FREEHOLD) Phone scammers are targeting local residents with claims of owing tax money to the Internal Revenue Service and threatening to send people to jail if the money doesn’t get paid immediately, warned Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
The callers take various approaches to extort money by either demanding money be paid immediately or in some cases saying there is a refund due – whatever tactic is used there is one common goal: trying to trick you into sharing private information.
“The phone call comes unannounced and unexpected,” Gramiccioni explained. “The voice on the other end of the phone claims to be a representative from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and quickly informs you that there is thousands of dollars owed to the IRS for back taxes.”
The typically hostile caller demands to know how you plan to pay the bogus debt. That is usually followed with threats of calling in the local police, jail time, deportation, the closure of a business, revoking a driver’s license and any other scare tactic to force the call recipient to pay.
“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” stated Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office.
These con artists sound convincing when they call, and they may know a lot about you – including the last four digits of your Social Security Number. To add to the illusion of them being “official,” the scammers usually have changed the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling, and use phony names and fake IRS identification badge numbers to enhance the illusion.
“Don’t fall for it,” said Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux. “The IRS doesn’t call you about taxes owed unless you have already been notified officially by the IRS with a letter. The IRS doesn’t demand payments over the phone or threaten to call the police. Don’t fall for these scammers who will try to bully you out of your hard earned money.”
The scammers have been known to leave a message, if you don’t answer the call, often the message is characterized as “urgent” and directs you to return the call specifically to an IRS Agent whose name and identification numbers are phony.
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IRS officials say it is pretty easy to know when a supposed IRS caller is a fake, and offers the following five tips about what the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:
• Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
• Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
• Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
• If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, where a legitimate IRS representative can help you with a payment issue.
• If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or atwww.tigta.gov.
• 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.
Remember, too, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.
Additional information about tax scams are available on IRS social media sites, includingYouTube and Tumblr where people can search “scam” to find all the scam-related posts.
Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website atwww.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com
Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives.