Tax scam targets Mississippians

via Moak: Tax scam targets Mississippians, clarionledger.com, 11/3/2015.

I got an urgent call yesterday from my Dad, rattled by a phone call. “I just got off the phone with somebody who said the IRS was about to sue me, then hung up,” he said. Now, if you know my dad, he’s as honest as they come, and so was shocked at hearing this “news.” Taking the number, I told him I would check it out. It turns out that a lot of Mississippians are getting the same call.

“These scammers continue to search for their next victim before, during and even after tax season,” noted Meredith Aldridge, director of the Consumer Protection Division for Attorney General Jim Hood’s office.

It turns out this is an old scam, and for some reason, Mississippians are lately being targeted.

It’s difficult to determine exactly who is perpetrating this scheme, but it’s always pretty much the same. Scammers claim to represent the IRS or Treasury Department, and claim you not only owe the IRS immediately, but they’ll sue you if you don’t pay. If you know how the IRS actually operates, the lie is immediately apparent — if you’re on its radar, you’ll know it well before this point. You will never be surprised, because the IRS simply doesn’t operate that way.

According to Aldridge, targets might be lured in with a potential refund, but they have to provide personal information to claim it. “These con artists are intimidating and sound convincing, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers,” noted Aldridge’s office in a news release. “They may even know a lot about their targets, and they may even alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.”

“The answer is simple for this and other similar phone scams,” Aldridge advises. “Do not share or verify any personal information over the phone.  If it sounds too good to be true or is suspicious, don’t take the action requested.”

Here are a few more tips:

  • The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill and allowing you to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • They won’t require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, or request that you wire a payment, or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • They won’t threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying. If they did that, many famous tax cheats would long ago have gone to jail by now.
  • Finally, they won’t use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds.

If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe the IRS any amount, Aldridge urges you to call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040, and request to speak to someone about payment. If you know you don’t owe anything, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800­366-4484 or at http://www.tigta.gov.

More tips are available at http://www.agjimhood.com, or by calling 1-800-281-4418.

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