Protecting yourself from scams this tax season

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April is just a few days away, which means tax day is getting closer. While you may be expecting a payday from Uncle Sam, so are tax scammers– a payday from your wallet.

You could be about your business and then the phone rings. Next thing you hear is something like this:

Hi, this is Officer Ron Schneider from the IRS Department. The reason to this call is to inform you that the IRS has issued an arrest warrant against you and your physical address is under federal investigation.”

That was a sample scam call from the New Yor State Attorney General’s office. The caller says you owe money and you need to pay quickly, leaving a callback number.

“It can spook anybody,” Brooks Baker, the Steuben County District Attorney, said. “If somebody that purports to be a pretty imposing federal government agency calls up and says ‘we’re going to put you in jail unless you pay right now,’ that’s pretty scary.”

Chances are you might not have to worry at all, because it’s most likely not the real irs.

“Anybody from a federal agency saying you need to pay right now by a specific methodology, a credit card, or money order, or a direct transfer from a bank account, that’s not what they do,” Baker said. “People need to be vary wary of anyone calling under those circumstances.”

According to the IRS, thousands of people fall for these scams, resulting in millions of dollars stolen. Anybody can get these calls, even if you’re a district attorney.

“They weren’t impressed by that fact at all, they eventually hung up on me,” Baker said, describing the moment when he got one of these scam calls. “I tried to work my way through some supervisors and find out where they were. They sound very officious and they worked hard to try to get me to make a payment.”

So if you do get these calls, “If they’re calling and asking you things like, ‘is this John Doe and is this your social security number,’ don’t confirm any of those things,” Baker said. “Or if they give you a wrong number, don’t correct them and say ‘no, no, no my social security number is this and you got my middle initial wrong.”

He also suggests to not call the number these callers give you.

“Look for a real number on the IRS website,” Baker said. “Or call your local law enforcement agency.”

If you happen to fall victim, Baker said contact your bank to freeze accounts, cards and to move your money to a safer place.

He also suggests contacting your state’s crime victim’s office. Both New York and Pennsylvania have crime victim offices.

Click here for New York Office of Victim Services.

Click here for Pennsylvania Office of Victim Services.

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