Sheriff warns of IRS scam

Published 3:28 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Residents of Crenshaw County and the surrounding areas have been receiving calls from people claiming to be with the IRS and requiring money to be paid before being threatened with legal action.

According to Crenshaw County sheriff Mickey Powell, the calls are a scam.

“Folks are claiming to be with the IRS, and asking people to send in a certain amount of money to get things cleared up,” Powell said. “But you should know that the IRS never calls — they’ll contact you by mail.”

The scam, which has been going on for the past few months, isn’t unique to Crenshaw, but seems to be spreading across the state like wildfire.

The Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office has received a number of complaints about the harassment, but this most recent outbreak of scam calls seems to be far less picky about their suspects.

“It hasn’t been just the elderly; I guess they’re just picking numbers at random and calling them,” Powell said.

“Some of these folks are really good at it.  They’re really pushy and conniving.  When someone hears the word IRS, it’s fear.  Even going to the mailbox and finding something with the IRS on it causes your heart to skip a beat.  So when people think they’re receiving a threatening call from the IRS, they get paranoid and do something before they really even think about it.”

Despite the numerous calls the office has received, Powell said that there may be countless others who may have given in to the scammers’ demands and paid the money without ever reporting it.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to detect fraudulent activity that the IRS would never engage in.

The IRS will never:

  • Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a certain 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 to have you arrested for not paying.

“If you have any questions or even a second guess about it, just call the sheriff’s office and we’ll be glad to assist you,” Powell said. “When in doubt, give us a call.  We’re here for the citizens of Crenshaw County.”

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, call the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office at 334-335-6568 or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.