STATE – Attorney General Kathleen Kane has advised the public to be cautious of income tax scams, particularly the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phone scam.
In a release, Kane said this scam involves someone pretending to work for the IRS and telling consumers taxes are owed.
“The caller threatens arrest or deportation unless the victim settles the debt using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” Kane said.
Pennsylvania Tax Preparer William B. McAllister, CPA, said the simplest thing you can do is not respond.
“Hang up,” he said. “That's the best case scenario.”
He added the IRS doesn't call people unless there has been prior contact.
“You must have had prior written contact,” McAllister said. “There's no reason to discuss anything if you haven't spoken to or haven't received correspondence from a specific person [from the IRS].”
This would also mean having a specific number for that agent.
McAllister stated if you go to the IRS website, www.irs.gov, you can find at least 12 scams that are taking place.
“There's a new scam every year,” he said. “They get redesigned.”
McAllister added the elderly are targeted in most cases because they're the most compliant.
“When they prey on the elderly and they feel they have to [comply], that's where the problem lies,” he stated. “If you haven't been in any correspondence with the IRS, hang up. When it comes to scams, the bottom line is to hang up.”
Honesdale Police Chief Rick Southerton said the department hasn't received any calls regarding the phone scam.
“If someone called us, we would refer them to the appropriate place that can help,” he said.
Jacqueline Sturgis, Aging Administrator, said the agency hasn't received any calls regarding the scam either.
“We advise the seniors about not giving out any personal information to anyone who calls,” she stated.
“Consumers should not reply to emails and hang up the phone if they are asked to pay IRS taxes,” said Kane in her release.
Here are some tips from Kane's office:
• Keep tax paperwork in a secure location
• Shred any documents that are no longer needed
• If filing online, update firewall, antivirus and spyware software on your computer
• Do not click on any links or open any attachments in suspicious emails
• Do not leave tax documents in your mailbox. Hand deliver documents to the post office or a post office mailbox.
For questions or concerns, call the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection hotline at 1-800-441-2555. If you receive any IRS scam emails, forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.