Secretary Galvin warns of increase in tax schemes

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BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin says that complaints to the Securities Division about tax schemes have been on the rise.

In a news release to 22News, Galvin says that the number of tax schemes increased when the IRS began accepting tax returns at the end of January.

His office has created a list of recommendations to help Massachusetts taxpayers recognize and avoid being a victim of one of these schemes:

1. Aggressive and bullying telephone calls from individuals impersonating IRS agents threatening arrest, driver’s license revocation, deportation, or criminal prosecution for failing to pay taxes. Scammers often use fake caller IDs to make it look as if the IRS or

other government agency is calling. Once on the phone, they will often use fake names and badge numbers and may recite a person’s personal information to convince the person that they are legitimate. Many scammers request payment of overdue taxes via prepaid debit cards or gift cards.

2. Telephone calls stating that the taxpayer is owed an IRS refund, but which requires the person to provide personal information to the caller in order to obtain it.

3. A new scam using stolen data that is currently on the rise. This scam involves fraudulent tax returns being filed for tax refunds which are erroneously deposited directly into a taxpayer’s bank account. The scammers then call, stating that the deposit was in error and that the taxpayer must wire the money back to a false collection agency. Although this scam does not necessarily involve a loss of money, it is an indication that the taxpayer’s personal information has been compromised.

To prevent being victimized, Galvin’s office advises taxpayers to take note of the following

information:

1. Taxpayers should be skeptical of callers who try to scare them into divulging personal information or making tax payments. If taxes are owed, the IRS will first send a bill in the mail.

2. Even if someone does owe taxes, they have the right to appeal or question the amount owed. Taxpayers should be skeptical of any caller who demands immediate payment.

3. Taxpayers should be cautious about making payments of any kind over the telephone.

4. Federal and state government agencies will not request that payments be made with prepaid debit cards or gift cards.

5. The IRS does not threaten to bring in police for nonpayment.

Anyone who receives any of the above calls or who has received a refund that is not theirs should contact the IRS or the Federal Trade Commission to report or find out the steps that must be taken to return the money. Anyone who has questions can contact Secretary Galvin’s office at 617-727-3548 or 1-800-392-6090.

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