LAURINBURG — Local law enforcement officials are warning people about a new phone scam by fake Internal Revenue Service agents.
As of Thursday morning, the Scotland County Sheriff’s Department and Laurinburg Police Department received a total of 30 reported calls regarding an IRS phone scam.
The callers are pretending to be IRS agents requesting money for unpaid taxes, officials said.
“They are just calling numbers hoping they can persuade anyone,” said Laurinburg Police Chief Darwin Williams. “Be aware and don’t give out personal information over the phone.”
During the call the “IRS agent” will ask the victim for a credit card number, bank information or Social Security number. Those who have refused to pay were threatened with jail or the suspension of a business or driver’s license.
The callers have used several tactics, including a program to make the IRS’s toll-free number appear on the caller ID, call center background noise, and false agent badge numbers.
They may even be able to report the last four digits of the victims social security number. Those who hang up on the caller may receive another call soon after from a scammer claiming to be a police officer or IRS agent.
Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said investigators have attempted to track the scammers by calling back the number.
“Someone did answer, but they hung up on us after they realized who we were,” Kersey said. “I think it’s a group of people because when you call them back you can tell they probably have it going through several different systems by the way they present themselves.”
Trying to locate them is almost impossible, according to Kersey. He said the callers could be conducing the operation from outside the US..
“I noticed a couple months ago it started up north and it seems to be that it is random, but they’re picking out certain areas to focus on,” Kersey said.”As I browsed through the website, it looks like it started in other counties and cities outside of North Carolina.”
Officials say the scammer doesn’t discriminate against age, they are going after everyone.
The Sheriff’s Office asks residents to follow these tips to prevent scam calls:
— Beware of any caller claiming to be from the IRS and demanding money. The IRS announced that it would never ask for payments by wire transfer or a prepaid card and it will typically alert taxpayers of unpaid taxes via the mail, not a phone call.
— In general, never give anyone money or credit card information over the phone.
— Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to bully their targets into doing what they want. This is a tactic many scammers use.
— Be skeptical of what a caller claims he or she can do if you refuse to meet their demand. An IRS agent will not get the police or an immigration agency involved just because you owe taxes.
For information on the IRS phone scam, visit http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/31/pf/taxes/irs-phone-scam/
If you have any questions, call the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-276-3385 or the Laurinburg Police Department at 910-276-3211.
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.