Michael L. Lyle, Chief
56 W. Foster St.
Melrose, MA 02176
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Contact: Jessica Sacco
Melrose Police Warn Residents about Phone and Email IRS Scams
MELROSE — Police Chief Michael L. Lyle would like to warn residents about ongoing IRS scams in the community and advise them to never respond to threats.
The Melrose Police Department has received multiple reports from residents about various phone scams. In one instance, an “agent” claims to be from the IRS and reports there is a lawsuit against the victim, who is told to call a number and settle the claim.
IRS scammers will also call to inform residents they owe money and must pay it immediately through a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The “agent” tells the victim that if they do not cooperate, they will be arrested, deported, or their business license or driver’s license will be suspended. The caller is often intimidating and may make hostile and insulting statements.
“Anyone who receives a call like this should just hang up and not engage these scammers,” Chief Lyle said. “Do not play into their request, no matter how convincing they may seem. Please immediately report this to the police department.”
If a victim gives away a pre-paid debit card number or makes a wire transfer, the money is gone and lost forever. There is usually no way to recover those funds.
“If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don’t pay immediately, it’s a scam artist calling,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement on the issue. “The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail. Taxpayers have rights, and this is not how we do business.”
Other characteristics of scams 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.