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Scam Alert: The IRS Doesn’t Take Gift Cards

One of four people surveyed had received fraudulent calls claiming to be from the IRS. (sabinevanerp/Pixabay)
One of four people surveyed had received fraudulent calls claiming to be from the IRS. (sabinevanerp/Pixabay)
April 2, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. – During tax season, phone calls from criminals posing as IRS agents are on the rise – but help is available to avoid falling victim to these scams.

A poll conducted by AARP found that one out of four respondents had received a fraudulent call from someone pretending to be from the IRS in the past year. According to Nora Duncan, state director for AARP Connecticut, the first clue the phone call is a fraud is simple – the I-R-S always contacts taxpayers by mail.

"The IRS is not going to call you,” she says. “And they're certainly not going to call you and threaten you that the police are coming to your house to arrest you if you don't send money, or give your Social Security number over the phone."

AARP is teaming up with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and People's United Bank for "Operation Stop Scams," a two-hour workshop on fighting fraud being presented at six locations across Connecticut.

People who are concerned that a call claiming to be from the IRS may be legitimate can always call the IRS directly to check. And Duncan says AARP maintains a free "Fraud Watch Helpline."

"It's a place where you can check any of these scams,” she says. “We hear about almost all of these, because they're happening across the country."

The helpline is at 877-908-3360.

Duncan also advises everyone to get their free credit report once a year, and to freeze their credit to prevent identity theft.

"It costs, right now, to do it permanently,” says Duncan, “but right now temporarily, anybody can do it once for free. So, they should go ahead and do that."

She says AARP is also working with Connecticut's General Assembly on legislation to allow anyone to freeze their credit permanently, without charge.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT