FORSYTH COUNTY — Tax season can be stressful enough without having to deal with potential scams, but local law enforcement wants residents to remain vigilant against identify thieves.
Phone scams for money and personal information are not a new phenomenon, but people may be more susceptible this time of the year to giving money to unsolicited callers who claim to be from the IRS or threaten to arrest them for unpaid back taxes.
“The IRS won’t call and ask for money over the phone,” said Forsyth County Sheriff’s Cpl. Robin Regan. “Anytime anyone asks for money or information from an unsolicited phone call, no matter who they say they are, don’t give them any information and call back the correct number for that agency or organization to always confirm who you’re talking with.”
Scammers usually threaten arrest unless they receive a money order or green dot card, which is a way to send money at convenience stores and pharmacies instead of through a bank.
“No one [legitimate] is ever going to say, ‘If you hang up, I’m going to take you to jail,’” Regan said.
He said scammers tend to target people with foreign ties and the elderly, though law enforcement has aimed to educate people to prevent them from falling victim.
“While we do still get reports of these crimes, we are also finding that many of our citizens are aware of the scam and are not falling for it,” Regan said.
Phone calls are not the only way an identity can be stolen.
“Always shred your documents and anything with personal information on it, even your name and address,” he said. “Don’t just throw papers away. And protect your identity online.
“If someone has been the victim of identity theft, they can — no matter where the suspect is or crime occurred — report it where you live so you don’t have to chase down other jurisdictions.”