If the IRS calls – HANG UP!
A few weeks ago, a person claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) called someone here in Ukiah. The caller said they were an IRS criminal investigator and offered personal details about the Ukiah resident to verify this claim.
What you need to know is that these callers are NOT from the IRS and what they are really after is your money! They offer a few personal details about you that they’ve been able to gather, and they want you to supply more, or to give them money – and they threaten to press formal charges, immediately arrest you, or suspend your driver’s license if you don’t give them what they want.
If anyone calls and says they are from the IRS (or any other organization) asking you to reveal personal details or pay them money, please – HANG UP!
Recently, the IRS has seen an increase in local phone scams across the country, with callers pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims. These phone scams, the IRS says, include many variations ranging from fake IRS representatives saying the victims owe money or that they are entitled to a huge refund. Some calls include a threat to arrest the victim and/or revoke their driver’s license. Sometimes these calls are paired with follow-up calls from scammers pretending they are from the local police department or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
A related nationwide phone scam included a sophisticated ruse targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants. 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 threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
Characteristics of these scams can include:
- Scammers using 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” or imitate 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 victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
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 at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue–—if such an issue actually exists.
If you know you don’t whether you owe taxes, or if you have no reason to think 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 at 800-366-4484.
If you’ve been targeted by these scams, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
Finally, I think our best tool in deterring and preventing crimes is our instincts. If you think something is wrong – it probably is. Please call and check before acting.
If you’d like to know what’s happening in your neighborhood, you can sign up to receive crime alerts and other important information through our partnership with the Nixle system. On our website you can also view a crime map of up-to-date crimes occurring in your neighborhood. You’ll find both of these features on our home page.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications, by clicking the Nixle button on our website www.ukiahpolice.com.