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Suffolk sheriff: Beware scammers posing as IRS agents

Scammers posing as Internal Revenue Service agents have been hot on the job recently, trying to dupe residents into forking over money that they don’t really owe, authorities say.

Three calls came in Thursday morning to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, telling of callers who had demanded money and said that if it wasn’t sent county sheriffs would be coming along to make arrests.

In response, the sheriff’s office issued a news release to warn the public, citing an IRS public alert that shared advice for anyone receiving such unsolicited, fraudulent calls.

First, the scam can go something like this: Callers try to get the victim to send cash, often through wire transfer or prepaid debit cards, and can take a bullying tone, threatening arrest or deportation if the money isn’t sent, the IRS alert says.

Scammers also may leave “urgent” messages through “robo” phone calls or send phishing emails to get the victim to respond.

Also, they may well have done their homework so as to come across as more official-sounding, using a person’s name, address or other personal information, the alert says. That and altering caller-ID numbers so that it appears the call is coming from a legitimate agency.

What scammers may do, but not IRS officials:

  • Call to demand immediate payment or call to talk about what’s owned without having first sent a letter.
  • Demand payment without giving the taxpayer the chance to appeal or dispute the amount owned.
  • Require that a specific payment method be used, such as a prepaid debit card, or ask for credit or debit card numbers on the phone.
  • Threaten to get local police or other law enforcement agencies to arrest those who don’t pay.

The best practice when receiving such calls — when you don’t owe taxes or suspect that you might — is to hang up right away without giving any information, the alert says.

Also, you could report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, calling 800-366-4484 or using its “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” link.

Or, report it to the Federal Trade Commission on by filing a consumer complaint, adding “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

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