Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County is reminding residents to remain vigilant about income tax return scams as tax season kicks into full gear and individuals file their state and federal income taxes.
“Scammers posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents or police officers will use a variety of methods, including bullying and intimidation, to try to steal money from hard-working residents,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “I urge Orange County taxpayers to be extra cautious about responding to any suspicious phone calls, emails and letters. These scam artists are very deceptive and may threaten you with arrest or a court action to try to get you to pay them.”
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said that most tax season fraud involves scammers pretending to be IRS agents who claim they need to verify the victim’s personal and financial information over the phone or claims that the victim owes back taxes. Once the scammer has the individual’s information, Hoovler said, they can steal tax returns and other funds by changing the deposit to a reloadable money card.
“Government agencies don’t threaten people with jail over the phone,” Orange County Sheriff Carl E. DuBois said. “If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be a government official threatening some official action against you and demanding your personal information, it's almost certainly a scam and you should immediately notify the police.”
According to the IRS, here are five things a legitimate agent will never do when contacting you:
- Demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, including a prepaid debit card.
- Request credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to contact local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
According to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, filing your tax return as soon as possible can reduce the likelihood that an identity thief will be able to claim a fraudulent tax refund using your stolen information. Residents should also protect data and documents used to prepare your return. Keep sensitive personal information and documents safe during and after the filing process and delete or shred them once no longer needed.
If you receive a phone call from a scammer, contact the Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or online at www.tigta.gov, and click on the IRS Impersonation Scam reporting tab. Consumers who have been victims of any scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 291-7900 and the County’s Office of Consumer Affairs can be reached at 360-6703.