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Tax Scam Artists At Work In Local Area

POLK COUNTY — Don’t panic. That call you just got from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service is not from the IRS — it’s a scam.

You’re not going to be arrested. Do not give the caller your information or any money. Just hang up.

This scam, which several Polk County residents have reported recently, can be particularly scary, said Ellen Klem, director of consumer outreach and education for the Office of the Attorney General.

“It’s horrific,” Klem said. “Who isn’t afraid of the IRS? Even if you know you don’t owe any money.”

The IRS will never call someone to demand immediate payment, nor about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill, according to www.irs.gov.

If you’re concerned you may be in trouble with the IRS, go online to the agency’s website or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Do not ask the caller — who is part of a scam — what number to call.

The scammer will give his or her number rather than the phone number to the IRS.

“They say, ‘Here’s our phone number,’ and magically, they answer the phone and say, ‘This is the IRS,’” Klem said.

If you have been a victim of this scam and have lost money, a complaint may be filed with the Oregon Department of Justice at www.oregonconsumer.org.

Another IRS-related fraud happening now is through third-party tax filing software, such as Turbo Tax.

“It’s basically tax refund identity theft,” said Bob Estabrook, public information officer for the Oregon Department of Revenue.

What’s happening is someone — a fraudster — has enough information about you to file a tax return on your behalf and receive your refund in his or her bank account.

“When taxpayers go to file their own return, you get a notice saying you’ve already filed,” Estabrook said. “Of course the taxpayer knows they haven’t filed before.”

Taxpayers can protect themselves by reporting any possible identity theft and filing their returns as quickly as possible.

Ideally, the first tax return someone files should be the authentic one, Estabrook said.

For more information or to report being a victim: www.oregon.gov/dor, call 503-378-4988 or 1-800-356-4222.

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