Police Chief Michael L. Lyle reports that the Melrose Police Department is receiving reports of citizens being contacted by scammers identifying themselves as Internal Revenue Service agents.

The callers are threatening residents with lawsuits and demanding that residents wire money for unpaid taxes through pre-paid debit cards, Western Union, Money Gram or bank money transfers. The scammer is very pushy and the residents are being threatened with arrest, seizure of property, and large fines.

These are *ALWAYS* fake phone calls. These are scams. Do not send money, by any method, to these people.

“When in doubt, hang up and call the police department,” Chief Lyle said. “Do not, ever, give these criminals money.”

If a victim gives away a pre-paid debit card number or makes a wire transfer, the money is gone and lost forever. There no way to recover the lost funds.

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.

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 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.

REMEMBER: The IRS does not demand immediate payment, and IRS agents will never call about taxes owed without first mailing a bill

Also:

1. The IRS will not demand you pay back taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
2. The IRS will never demand you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card or money transfer
3. The IRS will never ask for credit card or debit cards over the phone
4. The IRS will never threaten to bring in local or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying  taxes

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call the Melrose Police Department at 781-665-1212.

John Guilfoil is the Principal Owner of JGPR. Tweet @johnguilfoil or email him.

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