Scamsters posing as Internal Revenue Service representatives have been bilking American taxpayers for several years now, but recently they have been focusing on Kearny, to the extent that the Kearny Police Department is issuing an alert to local residents to be wary — and beware.
The con artists contact their potential victims by phone, warning the call recipients that they owe back taxes and face severe penalties, even arrest, if they do not pay up immediately, via check or moneygram or credit card or prepaid debit card.
The call appears to be legitimate, since the scamsters can alter the caller ID to appear that it is indeed from the IRS. The trusting, threatened, frightened call recipient complies — and his or her money ends up in the pockets of criminals.
This con game has been flourishing nationwide for awhile now, but as KPD Lt. Anthony Gouveia told The Observer, “There has been a big increase in Kearny for about the last three months.” Kearnyites who were targeted — including the unfortu nate who have actually paid the money — have been contacting the KPD in increasing numbers. “We’re now getting 15 to 20 calls a day about this — and that’s just on my shift,” Gouveia said.
Contacting the police is exactly what you should do if you receive an “IRS” call demanding money. What you should NOT do is pay the money demanded.
Gouveia also noted that call recipients should not provide any personal info to the caller. “Give no information out,” he emphasized. “And pay nothing.” Even if you are threatened. “They try to scare people,” he said.
The correct response is: Hang up, and call the IRS directly to ask if you owe anything — but do NOT use the number that appeared on your caller ID. Get the IRS number from Information or the agency’s website. And then BLOCK the number the scamster called from to stop repeat calls. These thieves can continue to harass you. “One person can get three or four calls a day,” Gouveia said.
Also call the KPD to report what happened. You won’t be “bothering” them.
They’re here to help you.
The IRS itself has issued repeated warnings about this scam. Aside from demanding money allegedly owed for taxes, sometimes the callers “may try to con you by saying that you’re due a refund,” the agency notes. “The refund is a fake lure so you’ll give them your banking or other private financial information.”
The IRS also cautions:
“These con artists can sound convincing when they call.
“They may even know a lot about you. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an ‘urgent’ callback request.”
On its website, the IRS lists five things “the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these is a sign of a scam.” The IRS does not:
1. Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
3. Require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
Additional information and advice can be found at www.irs.gov.