2019-03-08 / In the Know

Tax season is time to be on fraud watch

By Timothy Barker Special to the Leader

As we approach tax season, the Scarborough Police Department would like to send out a friendly reminder about protecting yourself from fraud.

This is the season where criminals target your tax returns. Each year Scarborough police take reports from unsuspecting victims that their tax return has been fraudulently issued to an unknown party.

Often times, the victim has not even filed their tax return for the year. There is no way to know that this is going to happen.

Victims first learn of this when they file their true tax return and the IRS sends notification that their refund has already been issued.

If this should happen to you, immediately contact the Scarborough Police Department as well as the IRS.

You have rights and protection if this does happen, so report to the authorities as soon as possible.

A second IRS scam that happens is through unsolicited phone calls from a fake IRS agent advising you that you either owe money or are late on tax payments.

There are some important points here to note should you be contacted by someone identifying themselves as an IRS agent.

These scammers can spoof a phone number to make it look like it comes from the IRS on caller ID.

They will bully you over the phone and threaten to have you arrested, your license suspended, or warrants issued unless you pay them directly over the phone.

Do not give any information. The IRS has a website dedicated to these scams.

The IRS will not contact you on the phone without notifying you by mail first.

The IRS will not require you to pay with a debit or credit card on the phone.

So what do you do if you are contacted? Tell the caller that you know it is a scam and hang up on them. Contact the IRS through phone numbers listed on their website, or through web addresses that come from their website.

Simply Google, IRS and look on their page for Scam Alert.

One other scam worth mentioning which is predominant right now is the grandparent scam.

You will receive a phone call from an unknown person telling you that your grandchild has been involved in an accident or arrested and they need money, now.

It is possible that they know some personal information about your grandchild. These scammers are professional and will sound very convincing to the issue at hand.

Most likely you will know the whereabouts of your grandchild and should recognize this as a scam. The best way to handle this is to simply hang up. Should you receive a call again, tell the person that you are calling the authorities as you know that you grandchild is not where they say, and hang up again.

Please join Scarborough police in helping to protect yourself. Take a few moments and visit the IRS website. Another great resource for scam information is the AARP website. AARP is very proactive in alerting communities of scam information. AARP has worked closely with Sen. Susan Collins, who serves as chairman of the Senate Aging Committee in finding ways to combat scams that target the elder population. Help spread the awareness to stop seniors from unnecessary victimization. Stop in the lobby of the Scarborough Police Department and pick up a Fraud Watch Network resource book.

For more information, call Lt. Timothy Barker at 730-4304.

Timothy Barker is lieutenant with the Scarborough Police Department.

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