Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tesia Galvan
Staff Writer 

IRS phone scams on the rise in Washakie County

 

March 1, 2016



WORLAND — With tax season in full swing, several Worland residents have called the Washakie County Law Enforcement Center making complaints of a fraudulent Internal Revenue Service phone scam.

The fraudulent callers claim to be with the IRS and make accusations of a file or lawsuit against residents, and have the same message: pay money or get arrested by local law enforcement.

Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness said these claims are completely false.

“The IRS does not call you on the phone to tell you that. They’re going to correspond with you with official mail,” Rakness said.

A statement on the IRS website says: “The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.”

“It’s all a scam. They’re hoping to shock you or embarrass you so you give out some personal information like your bank account or send some money … or go to various locations out here and send them money,” Rakness

“The calls have been going on and off for a while,” Rakness said “but now that tax season is coming they’re doing it again.”

Phone scammers are a huge problem and the Federal Trade Commission’s website says each year; thousands of people lose money to telephone scams — from a few dollars to their life savings.

“Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly — calling you by your first name, making small talk, and asking about your family. They may claim to work for a company you trust, or they may send mail or place ads to convince you to call them. If you get a call from someone you don’t know who … And, if they pressure you about giving up personal information — like your credit card or Social Security number — it’s likely a scam. Hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission,” the FTC website states.

At times, callers are not as friendly and the IRS warns taxpayers of hostile and life threatening phone scammers.

“Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don't be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement on the IRS website.

“If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee: record the employee's name, badge number, call back number and caller ID if available. Call 1-800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you,” the IRS website states.

If the caller is not a verified IRS employee the website states to report the incident to us the IRS at phishing@irs.gov with the subject: IRS Phone Scam.

Rakness also said residents can make a report at http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.

If these people call, hang up immediately, Rakness advised.

Scammers do not solely use the phone and according to an Associated Press article included the rising increase of “phishing” emails.

“What may look like a legitimate communication from your bank, human resources department or email provider may actually be part of a scheme designed to steal the confidential information stored in your computer, or to gain access to the network it's attached to,” according to an AP article.

“Experts warn that tax season is a prime time for this brand of fraud known as "phishing," with hackers out to steal your information in hopes of using it to file a false tax return. Phishing emails remain one of the top causes of data breaches. While people are more aware of their danger than ever before, the lures continue to evolve and increase in sophistication, making it tough for the average person to discern which emails are legitimate and which ones aren't.,” the AP writes.

The AP article also states why phishing is so popular during tax season, “Phishing peaks during tax season, partially because it's a time of year that many people are accustomed to entering their most personal information — such as their Social Security number or bank account information — on websites, Satnam Narang, senior security-response manager for security software maker Symantec, says. Hackers can use that information to file false tax returns and steal a refund.”

 
 

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