It seems like there is always some kind of phone scam going on.
"It is always out there," said Lt. Scott Powell with the Newton Police Department.
Just last week the department investigated a woman who was expecting a check in the mail from a woman in Arkansas. The Newton victim was then to wire transfer funds to Jamaica.
"We were able ot intercept the letter through the post office and send it back to sender," Powell said.
Recently, the IRS announced phone scams again made the IRS’ Dirty Dozen list, an annual compilation of some of the schemes that threaten taxpayers not only during filing season but throughout the year.
"Every time of year seems to have a different one," Powell said. "Now is tax time. I do not know how many we have had. A lot of times people will just call us and tell us that it happened but that they did not lose anything."
As the April filing deadline approaches, the Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers to be alert to tax time phone scams where aggressive criminals pose as IRS agents in hopes of stealing money or personal information.
“Taxpayers should be on the lookout for unexpected and aggressive phone calls purportedly coming from the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “These calls can feature scam artists aggressively ordering immediate payment and making threats against a person. Don’t fall for these.”
According to the IRS, phone scams or “vishing” (voice phishing) continue to pose a major threat. The scam has cost thousands of people millions of dollars in recent years and the IRS continues to see variations on these aggressive calling schemes.
Beginning early in the filing season, the IRS generally sees an upswing in scam phone calls threatening arrest, deportation or license revocation if the victim doesn’t pay a bogus tax bill. These calls most often take the form of a “robo-call” (a text-to-speech recorded voicemail with instructions to call back a specific telephone number), but in some cases may be made by a real person. Callers may have some of the taxpayer’s information, including their address, the last four digits of their Social Security number or other personal details.
"I do not know how many specific calls we have had about phone scams," Powell said. "Most of the time people get called, don't bite, hang up on them and are done with it. We have not had any come through that someone has lost a bunch."
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the federal agency that investigates tax-related phone scams, said these types of scams have cost 14,700 victims a total of more than $72 million since October 2013
"It is tax season, so they want to scare you with taxes," Powell said. "Most of them will trace back to Nigeria or Jamaica."
The IRS offers the following tips to avoid scam calls.:
The IRS will never:
Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Call about an unexpected refund.
For taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or don’t think they do:
Report IRS or Treasury-related fraudulent calls to firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: IRS Phone Scam).
Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately. The longer the con artist is engaged; the more opportunity he/she believes exists, potentially prompting more calls.
Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page. Alternatively, call 800-366-4484.
Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
For those who owe taxes or think they do:
Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.
View tax account online. Taxpayers can see their past 24 months of payment history, payoff amount and balance of each tax year owed.