Tax scammers are getting trickier, sheriff says

Staff Report

Overwhelming complaints about scam phone calls have prompted Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti to issue another warning to residents.

Criminals impersonating IRS agents are making aggressive calls and threatening arrest, deportation, court action, and license revocation unless you send them money. They may also try to lure you with promises of a huge refund.

Unsolicited callers claim to be IRS officials and demand tax bill payments. They con victims into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave an “urgent” callback request through robo-calls or via phishing emails.

Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is on the line. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address, and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Her are some tell-tale signs of a scam. The IRS will never:

• Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

• Request you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone

• Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get such a call, do not give out any information. If you don’t owe taxes, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 or use the “IRS Impenonation Scam Reporting” webpage. Report it to the Federal Trade Commission using the “FTC Complaint Assistant” at (include “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes).

If you know or think you may owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and an IRS worker can help.

Staff Report