The Union Recorder

Editorials

July 16, 2014

Contact local law officers before handing over money to IRS scammers

MILLEDGEVILLE — The local community has been hit with a rash of scams circulating the area. Local victims have fallen prey to offenders posing as representatives of the Internal Revenue Service.

With a false sense of urgency, the crooks demand money of the victims, often senior citizens, for back taxes. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Unfortunately these types of phone scams are not an uncommon occurrence.

One local victim lost nearly $16,000 recently. It’s unfortunate that a segment of the population seeks to take advantage of others, particularly some of the often most vulnerable among us — our seniors. We should all stay on alert for these and other similar false setups for our own personal best interest but we should also be mindful — and skeptical — to help protect elderly residents in our lives who may be more susceptible.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. Be reminded that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information, nor does the IRS ask for PINs or other personal bank information by phone.

The spike in the number of scam victims in the area should serve as a cautionary tale to all of us to be on guard, particularly when it comes to personal financial information.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

If you’re unsure and can’t determine whether or not the phone call is a scam, call local authorities, the police or the sheriff’s office, as well so they can make others in the community aware of this type of activity in hopes that other scam attempts are stopped before they get started.

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