MELROSE — As residents continue to file their taxes this month and next, Chief Michael L. Lyle and the Melrose Police Department want to remind the community not to fall victim to scammers.

Over the next several weeks, the Melrose Police Department will be delving into some of the most common scams out there — many of which have directly affected residents. This week, police are informing residents about the IRS scam.

For several years, scammers have spoofed the police department’s phone number and impersonated an officer to trick callers into believing they need to pay money owed on back taxes or they will be arrested. Victims are then ordered to pay by wiring money, sending a pre-paid debit card, or purchasing gift cards. If money is sent via wire transfer or through a gift card, it is almost always impossible to recover.

“The simplest and best thing you can do when you receive a call like this is to immediately hang up,” Chief Lyle said. “The longer you stay on the phone, the more time they have to polish their sales pitch and trick you into falling for the scam. Please remember that the Melrose Police Department will never call or threaten to arrest you for unpaid taxes. These are trained criminals calling, and their one goal is to scare you into paying them.”

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.

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 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, or if you think you may owe money, hang up and call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

If you get a scam call and do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form online at treasury.gov, or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

The IRS also advises residents to forward scam emails to phishing@irs.gov, and to not open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.

Anyone who thinks they may be a victim of a scam should call the Melrose Police Department at 781-665-1212.

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