The Seymour Police Department is investigating several local reports of identify theft and fraud involving taxes.
In one case, a woman reported her elderly mother-in-law had received a call two weeks ago from someone pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service.
The caller told the woman she owed nearly $8,000 in taxes going back to 2008.
“They threatened to sue her to recoup that money and said they were authorized to take her house and her driver’s license, too,” Police Chief Bill Abbott said.
But then they offered her another way to handle the debt by paying immediately with cash or check.
“At that point, she knew it was a scam,” Abbott said. “They will give you an out by allowing you to pay a percentage of what they say you owe. These people will take whatever they can get.”
Often the calls originate from overseas and the caller will have a foreign accent that makes tracking them down to file a charge next to impossible, Abbott said.
With the tax filing season in full swing, there is no shortage of scams out there and ways for people to fall victim and lose money.
Abbott said the most important thing to keep in mind is that the IRS does not initiate contact with people by phone and instead will mail a letter to taxpayers if they owe.
“With tax season here, be cautious,” Abbott said. “And if someone is trying to say you owe the federal government money, and you know nothing about it, be skeptical. There’s a good chance it’s fraudulent or a scam.”
In another case, Abbott said a resident received a letter about a fraudulent tax return that was filed using her Social Security number but with a foreign name.
The woman has not filed her taxes yet this year and is a victim of identity theft, Abbott said.
“Now she has to be issued a PIN number by the IRS and will have to use a PIN number every year and submit an affidavit every year with her taxes,” he said. “That can delay a tax return for at least six months.”
In 2012, 770,000 fraudulent tax returns were filed equaling $15 billion. That amount grew to $20 billion in 2013, Abbott said.
Although such scams often target senior citizens, Abbott said everyone is at risk.
Police encourage people to report scams, identity theft or potential fraud by calling 812-523-1234.
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If you think you may be the target of a scam, identity theft or potential fraud, call Seymour Police Department at 812-522-1234.