Callers are getting bolder – and getting results – as some in the local area have provided information and money, thinking they are in trouble with the IRS.
It’s a scam that has become more widespread, said Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins.
“I myself have even received four or five calls,” Jenkins said. “They are calling a lot of people, they are robo-dialing and they even leave messages.”
The scam is such as this, said Jenkins: the callers identify themselves as being from the Internal Revenue Service and are calling because they are owed money; there is a problem with a return; or, in the most severe cases, they threaten the answering party with arrest.
“It’s very prolific and we have had some people lose large sums of money to it,” Jenkins said of the scam.
Anyone receiving a call of this type should immediately hang up, said Jenkins, and do not return the call if you are out and they leave a message.
“The IRS does not contact you by phone,” Jenkins said.
He admitted that the callers can be very intimidating but, again, the IRS would not call you to say they have an arrest warrant and will be sending an officer to arrest you.
Jenkins said he has had complaints about the callers for the past few months, even a few coming in around the holidays, but now seems to be the most active, as people prepare to file their taxes.
“It has really shaken people up,” he said.
Many that fall victim are too embarrassed to want to report it, he said, and once they have been scammed, there isn’t a way to get the money back.
“It’s most effective on the elderly,” he added. “The IRS doesn’t have time to call you but these scammers from other countries do; they are cashing in on a lot of people.”
The chief said the best rule of thumb is to treat the call as the scam it is.
“Do not give them any information,” Jenkins said.