SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield Police Department has been notified recently about dozens of residents who have been the target of state and federal tax fraud phone scams. Although dozens have been reported, dozens more go unreported. With the 2015 tax filing season underway and based on past year’s statistics, there has been a sharp increase in ID Theft and utilization of these stolen IDs to file false income tax returns. One of the biggest scams right now, for instance, involves criminals posing as the IRS and threatening people that they must pay a significant amount in back taxes or face prison time.
The number of fraudulent tax returns is on the rise nationally as criminals use stolen names and Social Security numbers to forge W-2 information on electronically filed tax returns, according to the release. It is often difficult to trace the source of the stolen information. Most people do not realize there is a problem until they file their tax return and discover that a criminal beat them to it.
They demand that you pay your taxes immediately via credit card or Green Dot cards, or other type of gift cards, and they tell you if you don't pay the taxes right now, the IRS is going to have the local police department come and throw you in jail. The caller will further tell you that you owe a significant amount of back taxes but then will negotiate a settlement via the telephone. If the settlement is paid immediately through the credit or gift cards, the caller will make the debt go away.
The IRS doesn't rush to get things done. If they want money from you, there will be a series of letters and phone calls and an appeals process where you can go through to ask questions. If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you don't pay immediately, it's a scam artist calling. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by telephone. The first IRS contact with taxpayers is usually through the mail.
If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft
Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:
· More than one tax return for you was filed;
· You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;
· IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or
· Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.
What to do if you're a victim of identity theft
If you've been scammed or become the victim of identity theft, here's how to prevent further damage to your finances and set the record straight:
· File a police report with your local law enforcement agency.
· File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, either online at identitytheft.gov or via the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 or TTY 1-866-653-4261.
· Contact one of the three major credit bureaus, to place a fraud alert on your credit records and prevent further damage:
- Equifax.com, 1-800-525-6285;
- Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742; or
- TransUnion, 1-800-680-7289
· Contact your bank and credit card providers to check for unauthorized transactions or accounts you did not open.
· Complete IRS Form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit, to alert the government to the problem.
· Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently
If there is one thing you could remember from this article let it be this….
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) WILL NOT contact you by telephone about money owed. Anyone calling you claiming to be from this office threatening you or asking for money is a SCAM!