Watch out for tax-related scams

Published 9:59 am Monday, March 27, 2017

As the deadline for filing federal and state income taxes get closer, we at The Tidewater News would like to remind everyone to be on the lookout for tax-related scams. A woman from just outside of Franklin contacted us this week and informed us that she had received such a phone call recently, where someone claiming to be from the U.S. Department of the Treasury had tried to convince her that there was a problem with her taxes.

At first, she thought the call was legitimate, as the person on the other line knew her first name, and had given her a name and an ID number, though she said he went through the ID very fast and did not give her time to write it down. She became suspicious when he asked her for financial information and then threatened to send a sheriff’s deputy out to arrest her if she did not comply with his demands.

Fortunately, she ultimately recognized the situation for what it was and did not give out any of her financial information.

Instead, she called the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service, and was reassured by the IRS that there were no problems with her taxes. The IRS also provided her with a phone number to report the incident.

Lt. Camden Cobb, a spokesman for the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, said that Southampton County deputies have not received many reports of any types of scams recently where citizens have been at a financial loss, but advised anyone who suspects a scam to never give out personally identifying or financial information over the phone or internet unless they are certain they are speaking with a verified and legitimate company or government agency.

“Generally, this type of scam will feature someone on the other end of the call that is very pushy and wants things to be done very quickly, and will give deadlines and consequence to invoke fear of financial penalty or arrest,” he said. “A legitimate business or government agency would not behave that way.”