Hikind, Felder urge residents to be careful
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It’s one of the Internal Revenue Service’s “dirty dozen” scams being perpetrated by crooks around the country and now it has come to Borough Park.
State Sen. Simcha Felder and Assemblyman Dov Hikind, both of whom represent the neighborhood, have issued warnings to residents to be aware of a scam in which a crook posing as an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent calls a resident, tells the person they owe back taxes and threatens to arrest the victim if they don’t pay up immediately. The scammer often demands payment by credit card and asks for the victim’s credit card number.
The two lawmakers said they have received an alarming number of phone calls from residents targeted by the con artists.
“My own daughter was targeted,” Hikind said. “Fortunately, the constituents who contacted us have not given their credit card or debt card information to the callers, but they were frightened by the calls. Further, I can only imagine that some people are frightened enough to actually be swindled out of their money.”
Hikind has called on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate.
Felder, too, said he has heard of the scam hitting his constituents.
“My office has received numerous phone calls regarding a phone scam plaguing residents. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the Homeland Security, local police or Department of Motor Vehicle,” Felder said.
The IRS has seen a recent increase in local phone scams across the country, with callers pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims, according to the agency’s website.
Each year, the IRS issues a list of the “Dirty Dozen,” the 12 most prevalent scams targeting taxpayers. The phone scam made the list.
The phone scams include many variations, ranging from instances from where callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund. Some calls can threaten arrest and threaten a driver’s license revocation. Sometimes these calls are paired with follow-up calls from people saying they are from the local police department or the state motor vehicle department.
The characteristics of the scams can include:
- Scammers using fake names and IRS badge numbers.
- Scammers who can recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
- Scammers “spoofing” or imitating 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.
Residents who receive such a phone call are advised to do the following: call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
"Taxpayers should be on the lookout for tax scams using the IRS name,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement issued earlier this year. “Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.”
Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and to prosecute the criminals.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information, officials said. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the IRS website, IRS.gov.
Hikind, who sponsors regular shredding events in the community, advises constituents to never give out personal or banking information over the phone.
Residents who get fraudulent phone calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS can report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
Hikind said residents who have been targeted by the scam should contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at http://www.ftc.gov/.