COLORADO SPRINGS – Tax season is here. The IRS began processing returns on Monday, and scam artists wasted no time ramping up efforts to try and take your money.
They’re randomly calling phones in the Colorado Springs area claiming that you owe taxes, that someone you know was arrested, or that you need to pay a “student tax.”
Jacqueline Kirby, Public Information Officer for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, said all of these scams play on a victim’s fears in hope of getting them to send money.
“They are persistent, number one because it’s working,” she said. “Number two, it can be very, very lucrative.”
Don’t fall for it. Kirby explained no legitimate law enforcement agency will ever call demanding someone buy a GreenDot prepaid Visa card or money order.
Her advice: take a deep breath and write down the phone number. Then report the scam call to the police. Not all of these calls come from international crime rings.
“A lot of them are here locally,” Kirby said.
The calls are difficult to track. The scammers will generally “spoof” their number so that it appears like the call is coming from a local number or law enforcement agency on the victim’s caller ID. Kirby said the only way that law enforcement can act is if the scams are reported.
Another major concern this time of year is scammers filing fraudulent tax returns. The IRS stopped roughly 778,000 of these false tax returns filed in 2016 protecting around $4 billion dollars. However, this crime often occurs without the victim knowing about it.
The best way to protect yourself is to file your tax returns early and sign up for an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS before you do.
If you have received a scam call, you can report it online.