Tax Season Phone Scam Sweeps S.B.

Sheriff’s Office Warns Residents Not to Give Callers Financial Information

Scam phone calls particular to tax season are prevalent this month in Santa Barbara County, said the Sheriff’s Office in a Tuesday announcement. In the fraud reported locally, a caller posing as an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) or U.S. Department of the Treasury official tells victims they owe an overdue tax bill. The scammer tries to con the victim into wiring money or sending a prepaid debit card, said the Sheriff’s Office.

Through robo-calls — the kind of automated phone calls left by telemarketers — and email phishing, the swindler may leave urgent messages tempting the victim to call back. Addition tactics include using fake IRS titles and badge numbers, as well as personal information (name, address, etc.) of the person being calling, according to the Sheriff’s Office release.

However, the IRS never phones individuals who owe taxes without first sending a bill by snail mail. The federal agency neither demands tax payment through a prepaid debit card nor asks for debit or credit card numbers over the phone. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the IRS doesn’t threaten to bring law enforcement officials to a resident’s home to arrest them.

Community members who receive such calls should hang up right away and should not give any information. Residents may call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484 or visit the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting webpage to report scammers.


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