WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - The Yonkers Police Department is warning residents to be on high alert after scammers allegedly targeted the city’s elderly and vulnerable population.
The Yonkers PD issued an alert on Friday after receiving information that Yonkers residents may be getting phone calls from random numbers claiming to be the IRS or other government agencies demanding personal information or payment.
According to police, an aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers allegedly leave an “urgent” callback request.
Other scammers have used video relay services to scam deaf and hard of hearing residents.
In an effort to keep the community safe from scammers, the Yonkers Police Department issued a series of guidelines to help avoid con artists.
Your best protection is to just hang up the phone when called by someone you do not know. If you think that is rude, tell these callers politely that you are not interested, don't want to waste their time, and please don't call back - and then hang up.
- Be suspicious of unsolicited telephone calls. Scammers will often try to engage you by purporting to be a government or law enforcement official, a family member in distress or experiencing an emergency, or a charitable organization.The scammer’s goal is often to get you to give up money via wire transfer or even cash payment, or to steal your identity and bank information.
- Never give out your personal or financial details. Unless you initiated the call and or you know who you are speaking to, never give out your personal information – especially your social security number, checking or debit or credit cards numbers, your date of birth or your name and address – to anyone over the telephone. The government – Police, IRS, Federal or State Agencies – will never call or text you asking for money.
- Don’t believe your caller ID . Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
- Talk to someone. Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert, or just tell a friend.
- Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
- Check out a charity before you give. Ask how much of your donation actually goes to the charity. Ask the caller to send you written information so you can make an informed decision without being pressured, rushed, or guilted into it.
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