Traverse City Record-Eagle

Other Views

April 5, 2014

Another View: No one is immune to telephone scams

In many ways, those of us who choose to live here are insulated, to an extent, from some of the problems that seem to plague larger cities. Violent crime, while certainly not nonexistent isn’t as prevalent as it is elsewhere.

Often we read about problems facing other areas somewhat safe in the knowledge that “those kinds of things just don’t happen here.”

But we did get a dose of reality recently when we learned that a massive scam operation, operating in all 50 states and targeting as many as 20,000 people had hit the Keweenaw.

As reported in a page 1 story Tuesday, a Houghton man was targeted by a nationwide operation where targeted individuals are called by people posing as Internal Revenue Service agents.

The scam is sophisticated to the extent where these individuals offer names, badge numbers and similar identification.

The strong arm tactics include threats of arrest, notification of employers and even deportation.

And as we learned this week, anyone with a telephone is a potential victim. And to quote Houghton Chief of Police John Donnelly those who perpetrate these scams “are relentless.”

But thankfully, being a target doesn’t necessarily make you a victim.

The IRS has a number of tips to avoid this current scam and many others.

Keep in mind these are sophisticated scams, and the call may show up as the IRS on a caller ID, and the caller could know personal information such as your social security number or citizenship status and other personal details.

Often, after threatening targets with jail time or drivers license suspension, scanners will hang up only to have an accomplice call back posing as an officer from another agency.

The IRS reminds the public of two important pieces of information.

n An initial contact will not be made over the phone and is always started through the mail, by letter.

n The IRS would not attempt to collect a debt with a credit card over the phone.

If you have any questions regarding your tax status call the IRS tol-free at (800) 829-1040.

If you think you may have been targeted by an IRS scam you can report the incident at (800) 366-4484.

— The Mining Gazette (Houghton)

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