MPD: Beware of IRS Phone and Email Scams

Police Chief Mark Dubois would like to warn residents about an ongoing IRS scam in the community and advise them to never respond to threats.

The Maynard Police Department received multiple reports this morning from residents stating an “agent” from IRS called and informed them 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 would be suspended. The caller often intimidates the victim with hostility and insulting statements.

“These callers are professional scammers and will say anything to appear legitimate. Do not act under pressure. Instead, call police immediately after receiving a call to report the issue,” Chief Dubois said. “We do not want to see anyone become a victim of this fraudulence.”

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.

Also, the Maynard Police Department urgently reminds residents to NEVER purchase pre-paid debit cards to give to a caller, and NEVER send a wire transfer to someone you do not know. Any money sent will be lost.