Scam phone calls prompt alert by police department
IRS demands come by mail, agency says as fraudulent scheme spreads
Do not fall for demands made by phone callers claiming to be from the IRS.
Valdez residents are being plagued by phony IRS scammers who are calling households demanding immediate payments.
Anyone receiving such a phone call should hang up immediately police say.
The Internal Revenue Service says its communications with tax payers is always initiated by mail - never by phone calls or email.
"Several local residents received fraudulent phone calls this week from someone claiming they owe money to the IRS," Police said in an alert issued last week. "VPD Dispatch has received several calls from concerned Valdez residents who are receiving fraudulent phone calls from someone claiming to represent the "IRS". With each of the cases reported this week, a caller accuses the citizen of owing money and threatens with arrest and other negative consequences if the citizen fails to take immediate action. Other residents have reported automated messaging stating that the IRS is taking them to court and demands an immediate response."
Fraudulent IRS phone call threats have been reported all across Alaska in recent weeks.
"Please report all fraudulent electronic communication to the Valdez Police Department's Cyber Crime Unit so we may best serve our community in keeping our citizens informed of these schemes," police said.
The local non-emergency phone number is 835-4560.
The IRS scam does not operate much differently than other fraudulent communications that had become common in the digital age - except these scammers prey on taxpayer anxiety to coerce their targets in to departing with their hard-earned cash.
AARP, formerly knowns as the American Association of Retired Persons, said in a warning earlier this year that these scammers often target the elderly and immigrant populations.
"Commonly, the scam artist scare people into making false tax payments with the threat of prosecution from the IRS or into sharing personal financial information that can lead to identity theft," the group said.
According to the IRS, scammers can alter numbers on telephone caller ID systems to make it appear they are with the IRS or Department of Motor Vehicles. In some cases, they also use fake IRS letterhead and even provide actual IRS addresses where the fraud victim can mail a receipt for payment.