In an alert issued on Monday, the department warned residents that “as you may be preparing and filing tax returns, be aware of IRS scammers,” who may attempt to intimidate vulnerable people over the phone with threats of arrest if one doesn’t pay with an iTunes gift card.
Police said that under no circumstance should one provide a potential caller with any personal information and that one should hang up and call law enforcement officials who are investigating the scams.
The alert comes on the heels of a warning from the IRS regarding cybercriminals.
According to the IRS, during the last two tax seasons, cybercriminals tricked payroll personnel or people with access to payroll information into disclosing sensitive information for entire workforces. The scam affected all types of employers, from small and large businesses to public schools and universities, hospitals, tribal governments and charities.
In total, more than 900 phishing reports were filed with the IRS in 2017, after just 100 were reported the year before. Last year, more than 200 employers were victimized, which translated into hundreds of thousands of employees who had their identities compromised.
According to the IRS, scammers “do their homework, identifying chief operating officers, school executives or others in positions of authority. Using a technique known as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES), fraudsters posing as executives send emails to payroll personnel requesting copies of Forms W-2 for all employees.
“The Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income and withholdings. Criminals use that information to file fraudulent tax returns, or they post it for sale on the Dark Net.”
Businesses or employees that believe they may have been victimized by scammers have been asked to contact the IRS by emailing phishing.irs.gov with the subject line “W2 Scam.”
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