Scammers not letting up
News from the Western Montana Area VI Agency on Aging, Inc.
LAKE COUNTY — Western Montana continues to be a target of the phone fraud racket. Apparently the fraudsters see Montana as a growth market.
The IRS phone scam is widespread throughout the nation, and the IRS Inspector General referred to it recently as the “largest ever” of its kind. An estimated $1 million has been lost by victims of this ploy. Callers will claim to be from the “Federal Investigation Department” and the IRS. The real IRS contacts taxpayers first by mail or with personal visits, not by phone, so this claim should immediately raise a red flag. As to the claim that the victim owes thousands of dollars in overdue taxes; again, the IRS would notify taxpayers of this by mail or in person, not by phone.
The caller tells the victim he cannot use standard forms of payment, specifically a credit card. The IRS has no such policy. The caller tries to justify why the money has to be wired to a Paypal account through a prepaid debit card. Callers often also hide their location by using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services. This conversation takes place over the Internet and allows scammers to pretend they are calling locally or from an actual IRS assistance number.
Calls like this have been reported in Western Montana in recent months. A woman from Polson was called several times on her cell phone and threatened with a lawsuit, and told that the police were on their way to her house. A man in Rollins received a similar call. If you receive such a call, do not give them personal information or send money. If you have actually lost money report it to the police. These fraud calls should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357, and also to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.
Authorities are also warning of a new variety of the scam, whereby callers claim the person is guilty of failing to appear for federal jury duty, and threaten consequences that can only be avoided by money paid immediately in a certain way. Missed jury duty is not handled in this way. The caller is just trying to trick you out of money or personal information.