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Police Warn Residents About IRS Phone Scams

by on April 13, 2015 3:10 PM

With the deadline to file taxes just around the corner, State College police are seeing a rash of IRS telephone scams.

State College Police Lt. Chris Fishel says the scam is a simple one: a con artist calls a random person pretending to be an IRS agent, tells them they owe money to the government, and gives them instructions about where to send the cash.

"We've gotten over a dozen calls in about this, so there's probably a good three dozen people who received these calls," Fishel says. "Taxes are due April 15, and we'll probably see this happen against next April as well."

According to a State College police news release, scammers sometimes use "caller ID spoofing" to make it appear than an incoming call is from law enforcement or a government agency. Different versions of the scam may also involve threats of arrest, deportation, or promises of a large tax refund.

Fishel says scam artists may target older residents or international students out of a belief that they will make easier targets. He adds that phone and email scams are common year-round, and are based on the idea that if you keep calling people then at least one person will fall for it.

The IRS has also been warning people against this tactic, which is one of the most common tax-related scams.

"If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don't pay immediately, it's a scam artist calling," says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a news release. "The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business."

The IRS says there are several tell-tale signs that a phone call from an IRS agent is not legitimate: demanding payment without having sent you a bill in the mail; demanding payment without giving you the opportunity to appeal or question the amount you owe; requiring a specific payment method, often a prepaid debit card; and threatening to contact local police or another law enforcement group to have you arrested for not paying.

State College police also point out that you should never give out any personal or financial information over the phone.

If you receive an IRS scam call, the IRS recommends contacting the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or www.tigta.gov.



Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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