Phone scam claims money owed to government, threatens jail time

Phone scam claims money owed to government, threatens jail time

NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The Newberry County Sheriff's office is warning citizens of a new phone scam.

The scam involves someone calling to say you owe the government money – and if you don't pay up you could go to jail.

IRS scams are the most common ones. In 2015, 700 of the 3,000 reported scam calls to the Department of Consumer Affairs were IRS scammers demanding that consumers pay taxes owed or face the consequences.

Department of Consumer Affairs officials say if you get this call, hang up. Do not give your personal or financial information over the phone even if the person on the other end claims to be from your bank.

Once you hang up, follow up. If you think you may owe money to the IRS, call them directly. Officials also say there are red flags to look out for
if you aren't sure if you're getting a call from a scammer.

If the person on the other end is threatening legal action, saying you only have a short amount of time to respond, or asking you to verify your information
over the phone – it's most likely a scam. Scammers can also make it look like they're calling from the IRS or from your bank.

"They're using computer technology and phone applications to mask caller ID," said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. "The caller ID could actually come from a law enforcement agency or be a Washington, D.C., telephone number. And they do this simply by using the computer application and it fools the caller ID system."

Foster teamed up with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs to hold a free identity theft presentation Monday at the Newberry County Sheriff's Department. Foster says if this happens to you, make sure you report it to law enforcement. You can also report it to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

For more resources on how to avoid scams and what to do if you find yourself a victim of identity theft or fraud, click here.

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