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AARP alerts seniors of new IRS scam

Have you or a loved one been receiving calls from the IRS? If so, don’t answer them, they could be scammers. In a three-year period, these impersonators have received over $47 million. Here’s more on how to avoid these scammers.

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IRS phone scammers are lurking about. In a recent three-year period, the Treasury Department received reports of more than 1.6 million calls from IRS impersonators, with more than 8,600 victims collectively losing almost $47 million. (Dickinson Press File Photo)

The coronavirus pandemic is not the only thing alerting seniors; seniors should also be on the lookout for alleged IRS agents threatening them with arrest.

Scammers have been trying to scare people out of their money using the fear of being arrested for tax evasion, according to a AARP press release.

“... The person calling you demands immediate payment and threatens to have you arrested,” AARP stated in its press release.

The AARP also mentioned that these scammers are increasingly using robocalls. Basically, robocalls are calls featuring a recording instead of a live voice. In other words, it’s like talking on the phone with someone’s answering machine greeting. If it doesn’t sound like a live person, it probably isn’t. It’s also probably illegal, AARP officials noted.

Robocalls can only be used without a resident’s express permission if used for the following reasons: informational messages reminding one of appointments, prescription refills, donation requests from various charities, calls asking for donations to a particular political candidate and calls pertaining to debt collection, according to the Federal Trade Commission. All other types of robocalls must ask for a person’s express permission and must inform them as to what they’re robocalling about.

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“If someone is already breaking the law by robocalling you without permission, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. At the very least, it’s a company you don’t want to do business with. Don’t rely on your caller ID,” the FTC said on its website.

Stark County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mehrer said these “phone scams” follow a consistent pattern.

“They will somehow clone this number, or a number that’s kind of familiar or would appear on its face to be legitimate… A call comes up in your caller ID… It gives the impression that they’re talking to someone from that office but there again, people have to really evaluate what these people are asking you to provide for them,” Mehrer said.

Mehrer also noted that the IRS will not ask for personal information over the phone. To his recollection, Mehrer said he could not recall any incidents of these IRS phone scams in Stark County.

Even though cases in Stark County are slim, Mehrer advises everyone in Stark County, especially seniors to be mindful of these calls.

“(One), if it appears to be fishy, it probably is. Number two, do not give any bank account information, financial information (and) personal information — do not give that to anyone over the phone,” Mehrer said. “…They (the IRS) don’t ask for that information, so just don’t provide it. And lastly, if they do have any suspicion they should call law enforcement… We’d be more than happy to help.”

Individuals who receive these scam calls may think it is from the IRS because the number is disguised as an IRS office number on an individual’s caller ID. However, this is one way in which scammers are able to do their bidding. The AARP advises those who receive these calls to hang up and consider filing a fraud report if the scammer(s) know any part of an individual's Social Security Number. Fraud reports can be filed either online or by phone with any of the three national credit bureaus, which include Equifax (1-888-836-6351), Experian (1-888-397-3742) or Transunion (1-800-680-7289).

To file online, type in one of the previously mentioned bureaus including the words “fraud report” in the search engine. A result mentioning “placing” or “filing a report” will pop up, click on it and a page will direct an individual to “place an alert.” From there, the online directions are fairly easy to follow.

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For more information or to report any suspicious calls, call the Stark County Sheriff’s Office at 701-456-7610.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSDICKINSON
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