For Immediate Release
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Merrimac Police Alert Community to Increase in Aggressive IRS Fraud Calls
MERRIMAC — Police Chief Eric M. Shears reports that the Merrimac Police Department has received an increase in resident reports of aggressive phone calls from scam artists pretending to represent the Internal Revenue Service.
As a general reminder: The IRS will NEVER call an individual requesting money. The IRS always mails tax notifications.
The Police Department seeks to alert the community and remind all residents to never give out their personal and financial information to a person they do not know.
Scammers tell potential victims that while completing a tax audit, they found that the person has underpaid their taxes and owes money to the IRS. Some callers threaten to file lawsuits or tell residents that a lawsuit had already been filed against them. They state the only way to rectify the situation is to immediately send a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer to a specified address.
Once the money is sent, it is gone forever and cannot be traced or recovered.
“We urge residents and business owners to simply hang up on these scammers,” Chief Shears said. “Never give out your personal information to someone like this, and please do not send a wire transfer, money order, or pre-paid debit card to someone you do not know That money will be lost forever.”
Neither the Merrimac Police Department nor the Internal Revenue Service will ever threaten to arrest someone over the phone for underpayment of taxes.
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.
Since 2013, more than 5,000 victims have lost over $26.5 million as a result of the scam, according to the IRS.
To avoid becoming a victim of an IRS scam, residents are encouraged to remember the following:
- The IRS first contacts people by mail — not by phone — about unpaid taxes.
- The IRS will not ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card, a money order or wire a transfer.
- The IRS also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone.
- The IRS never requests personal or financial information by email, text, or social media.
If you receive a call from an IRS scammer, hang up. Do not engage with these callers.
If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment and if you think you owe money, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
If you get a scam call and do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation Scam” form at tigta.gov, or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
The IRS also advises residents to forward scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to not open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.
A similar uptick in scam calls has also been reported in Rockport, Gloucester, and elsewhere recently.
If you are ever unsure about a potential scam, contact the Merrimac Police Department at 978-346-8321.