Be on the alert

Phone scams run amuck

Hanken

‘Tis the season … for phone scams.

With January’s arrival and the end of the year in the books, many of us will begin the task of preparing and filing taxes now through mid-April.

But don’t be surprised if your cell phone or landline elicits some calls from the “tax man” or at least someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

The Marshalltown Police Department is warning residents that the IRS tax telephone scam is making the rounds in community. Earlier this week, the police department received a report from a concerned citizen who received two of these calls. Caller ID information displayed the number (914) 331-3362 as the purported number of the perpetrator making the calls.

But, as MPD Capt. Mike Hanken noted, the IRS is NOT making these calls.

“These are scams,” he said. “The IRS would only notify you by letter. They’re not going to call you,” Hanken said.

“You need to be on your guard when you get these calls, or even if you get a message through the computer.”

Hanken said everyone should be suspicious of any call, especially if someone is claiming to be from the IRS or another agency wanting personal information or demanding payment.

“If you have any doubts, you may just want to contact your tax professional and let them make some inquiries,” the veteran police captain said.

Some of these phone calls, Hanken added, are especially concerning, as the scam artists are “getting pushier, making threats, especially to our immigrant and elderly populations. They are using tactics that can be intimidating.”

Hanken said the wise thing to do is simply to hang up, however, if there is any concern or fear that the calls are truly harassing, report the call or calls to law enforcement.

Fake IRS calls, however, are not the only phone scams.

Hanken said there are numerous others, all attempting to get personal information, bank account numbers or even having scam victims send in gift cars and prepaid credit cards.

Many calls, Hanken said, will sometime feature local phone numbers or numbers suggesting they are within a certain area code.

“If you don’t recognize the number, you might just allow it to go to voice mail or to an answering machine,” Hanken said, adding it pays to be a little cynical and to be protective in making sure you’re dealing with a legitimate call.

Those with any concerns about any phone fraud schemes should call the MPD’s 24-hour, non-emergency, number at (641) 754-5725.

The IRS also has information about these tax scams and other consumer alerts, which can be access online at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com