‘There’s a sucker born every day’ said David Hannum, the rival of P. T. Barnum back in the 1860’s.
And it is still true today. We are constantly hearing about folks falling to this new breed of hucksters which abound in our digital world. And because people are still falling prey to the devious tricks, Everything South City will continue to remind our neighbors to double check on any and all communications that may seem even a bit curious. You know that feeling in your gut when something seems a bit out of place? Listen to it and ask questions and report concerns to the authorities.
The more prevalent con scams happening locally today include IRS and PGE/ Utility contacts by people posing as workers of those businesses. Their approach maybe different from yester-year yet the end result are the same, gaining information and/ or goods from unsuspecting neighbors.
THE IRS SCAM
Last evening I came home to a voice message from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller had a heavy accent and seemed to be reading from a cue card which seems common when a message is standard. The caller was insistent that a return call be made to the hotline number 585-444-6507and not to disregard the message or charges would incur. Enough to get someone’s attention, right? Yep. So when a call came through this morning and no message was left, I clicked re-dial to hear their recorded answer ‘Internal Revenue Service’ followed by a beep. I hung up. Re-playing the voice message again I felt concern that the caller was using one of my family member’s uncommon name. It felt creepy and made me wonder if they somehow had access to any of my information. Time to change passwords – again.
KGO Channel 7’s Michael Finney reported last Thursday in a 7 On Your Side episode with Consumer Reports, that this scheme is happening in every state and the government estimates this fraud will cost taxpayers $21 billion this year alone. That’s some big money and makes you realize there are many falling for this threatening scam.
Another tactic being used is known as phishing, emails being sent to you that look legit but are not. Because so much of our daily lives take place in the cyber world an email from the IRS may seem reasonable but it must be remembered, the IRS will NOT ask you for your social security number by email, text or by phone. The IRS generally will contact you via US Postal service with any inquiries.
Any email you receive claiming to be from the IRS should be forwarded to phishing@IRS.gov. If you receive a phone call you believe to be a scam it, please report it to our police at 877-8900 or email email@example.com In addition you may want to contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or even the FBI as Finney suggests. Because this is tax season we can expect this IRS scam to continue. While you yourself may not fall prey and disregard any attempt by hucksters to gain your confidence, please remember your neighbor down the road may not be as savvy as you. By reporting these scams we help police identify these trends and help reduce this type of crime.
Earlier this month South San Francisco Police reported one of our neighbors on the 900 block of Sandra Court fell victim and lost $1,000. More HERE Immediately after publishing the report on our website another neighbor replied ‘(415) 251-2122 guy with slight accent calling me claiming to be IRS’. Because of these warnings I will also be contacting our police with information from the fake IRS calls received.
The best protection is prevention. Help spread the word to your family, friends and neighbors to be aware of these scams. For more information on local police reports and safety tips click HERE
IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone ScamPress Release October 31, 2013
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.
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 then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.” Werfel noted that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail
Other characteristics of this scam include:
- Scammers use 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 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 some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
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 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that 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 1.800.366.4484.
- If you’ve been targeted by this scam, 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.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.