State Police warn residents about IRS impersonations

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The Virginia State Police issued a warning about a scam currently linked to the VSP Area 43 Office in Chatham.

The VSP has received calls from two Virginians and a New Yorker about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonation telephone calls, according to a news release from the agency.

The scammers cloned the state police office’s main number, (434) 432-7287, as a tactic to help convince a caller that they are legitimate – a common ploy utilized by scammers as the IRS filing season nears an end, according to the release.

According to the IRS website, the aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Some con artists have used video relay services to try to scam the deaf or those hard of hearing. Taxpayers are urged not trust calls just because they are made through the relay system.

The VSP included a list of things the IRS will not do to help identify scams. The list states the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.