Scam Alert

Published 9:03 am Thursday, July 10, 2014

AHOSKIE – In retirement, it’s hard enough to hold on to your hard-earned nest egg in these tough financial times.

That effort is compounded many times over when a trusting senior citizen becomes the target of a scam artist.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh is warning local citizens, especially the elderly, about the presence of a telephone scam where the caller poses as an IRS Agent.

“We received a recent call from one of our elderly citizens who reported they believed they were the target of a phone scam,” Fitzhugh said. “We investigated that incident and discovered it to be true. With that in mind I want to use the media to make our citizens aware of this type of scam and urge them not to fall victim to these types of calls.”

While researching the case of IRS related scams, Fitzhugh said he found out they are reported nationwide.

“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,” Fitzhugh said.

According to the IRS, these 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.

“What everyone needs to know is that the IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail,” Fitzhugh stressed. “The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone. For more information or to report a scam, go to and type ‘scam’ in the search box.”

Characteristics of these scams can include:

Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves;

Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number;

Scammers “spoof” or imitate 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;

Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site; and

After threatening victims with jail time or a driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

In another variation, one sophisticated phone scam has targeted taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do: If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

If you’ve been targeted by these scams, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at  Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. 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

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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