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IRS telephone scam (and others) are going around

Weiser Signal American of Weiser, Idaho

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Local woman receives official-sounding call

A Weiser woman reported receiving a message on her answering machine on Aug. 7 from the Internal Revenue Service that sounded deceptively official but is really a scam.

The voice on the message said, "this call is officially a final notice from the IRS." The caller goes on to say the IRS is filing a lawsuit against the individual and he or she needs to call a certain number to take care of the matter.

The target of the scam is asked to call a "509" area code number for more information.

"I knew it didn't feel right," the local woman said. "They make it sound really official."

She immediately called her accountant, who said it was not legitimate. Others have reported receiving the same or similar IRS scam call.

A spokesperson for the Weiser Police Department said the IRS scam has been going around for a while. She said the best advice is to never give out any personal information over the phone.

Rob Hicken, a spokesman with the Better Business Bureau in Boise, said there are several scams going around the

Treasure Valley right now that use the telephone, mail or Internet to try to dupe people.

He offered a couple of examples of scams, including one where the caller purports to be from a sheriff's office..The target of the scam is told they are being fined for not showing up for jury duty and a law enforcement official is coming over to pick up a check. However, for a simple credit card payment over the telephone the process can be stopped.

Another scam involves a call or email from someone who claims to be from the power company. The victim of the scam is told their power is being shut off for nonpayment, but, again, a credit card payment can bring the account up to date.

Yet another scam targets primarily senior citizens. The potential scam victim gets a call from someone who purports to be their grandchild and says he or she is in jail for marijuana possession and needs money for bail. The grandparent is told by the caller not to tell the caller's mom or dad and requests money.

IRS telephone scams are not unique to Weiser. Versions of the scam are reported every day around the country and often target seniors or immigrants. Sometimes the caller will demand immediate payment and threaten an arrest by law enforcement.

Hicken said if someone gets a call that sounds like a scam it's important not to panic. Contact a trusted friend or city officials or the power company.

The bottom line to remember is to never give out financial or personal information.

Hicken said the IRS does not call taxpayers without making contact initially through the mail.

According to the IRS website, the agency will never:

Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

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Original Publication Date: August 12, 2015

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