Londonderry Police Public Information Officer Detective Christopher Olson wants to inform the public of a scam being perpetrated currently.
“We have a scam going on in town where people represent themselves as IRS agents,” he said. “The person calls the intended victim and tells the person that they are the Internal Revenue Service and that the person/victim is to pay money. Their victims are usually the elderly. We want to put it out there that the IRS is not going to call for payments.”
IRS Public Relations Specialist Peggy Riley said the federal agency is aware of the scam.
“The people who are calling people sometimes have information about the people they are calling so they sound legitimate,” she said. “They are telling them that they owe taxes and if they don’t pay by a pre-paid debit card, they threaten their victim with arrest or deportation, a number of different things.”
Riley said contact with and from the IRS is done through the mail in writing, and payments are not made by debit card.
“The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail,” she said. “The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.”
She urged anyone seeking more information or to report a scam go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.
Riley said that potential victims of the scammers are threatened with deportation, arrest, utility shut off, or revocation of their driver’s license. She noted that callers are frequently insulting or hostile.
IRS officials said po-tential victims may be told they are entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS.
“When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy,” the IRS warns.
Riley said scammers use fake names, usually common names, and IRS badge numbers. Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number and sometimes send bogus IRS emails to victims to support the bogus calls. Victims report hearing background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
Riley said that anyone who gets a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS should do the following:
• 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 with a payment issue, if one exists.
• If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, 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, contact the Federal Trade Commission and use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
Olson and Detective Sergeant Kim Bernard met with seniors at the Londonderry Senior Center in March to warn of possible scams.
“If you are contacted by people who you believe are conducting a scam, call us and we’ll come out and we’ll look into it and give you some feedback right away,” Bernard said.
Some of the scams that Bernard and Olson warned the seniors about are: Publishers Clearing House, where the caller says the person called has won but additional money must be sent to claim the prize; Secret Shopper scams, where a “secret shopper” company asks for money; Comcast Billing Scam, where a caller identifies himself as a Comcast employee and asks for personal information; and a grandparent scheme where the caller represents himself as a grandchild in trouble and needing money.
Bernard said that if seniors believe that they are being taken advantage of, they should let the police know.
“If a home care provider or a relative is mistreating you, if you think something is not right, then call us,” Bernard said. “There’s a task force that is put on by the Attorney General’s office where a team is set up for just these things. Elderly abuse is one of the most common things happening today because a lot of people don’t report it because it’s their sweet grandson who lives with them and the grandmother is the prisoner in her own home. That’s an abuse situation.”
The number to call at the Londonderry Police Department is 432-1118 with scamming concerns.