Be aware: tax season attracts scammers

Law enforcement officials warn of telephone scammers this time of year.

LOGAN – As tax day approaches, Cordell Hoth, detective for Logan City Police Department, warns there is an increase in Internal Revenue Service impersonation calls this time of year. The Federal Trade Commission tracks fraud numbers and recently published the numbers for everyone to see.

“If contacted by a scammer, call Dispatch at 753-7555, also report scams to ftc.gov/complaint and Internet Crimes to ic3.gov” he said. “If you fall victim to a tax scam or fraud again, report it to the IRS immediately.”

He said knowledge is the best defense against scams/fraud. Some people don’t report being a victim of scams and fraud out of embarrassment.

Telling everyone you know about a scam and asking them to do the same helps spread the word about scams,” Hoth said. “As soon as you know or think something is a scam, report it to the police.”

The detective said it was difficult to say how prevalent the scammer problem is because not everyone reports a scam or if they fell victim to it.

“Scams are reported to the Logan City Police Department almost daily,” he said. “Anytime a scam is reported a case is created and assigned to an officer and, if necessary, a detective.”

A good way to recognize a scam is if you are contacted and asked for personal, account, financial, log-in information or asked for payment via gift card, money cards or to wire money.

“If they will not let you hang up and want to keep you on the phone,” Hoth said, “these are all signs of a scam.”

He said you can also do some independent research to verify or disprove a legitimate company is really attempting to contact you.

“Contacting law enforcement is very valuable,” he said. “You can sign up for emails from the FTC and receive frequent emails on scams.”

In 2019, the FTC received 3.2 million calls to their Consumer Sentinel Network from people reporting fraud. The Sentinel is a unique investigative cyber tool that provides members with access to millions of consumer complaints. They analyzed and categorized and crunched the numbers, said Associate Director of Consumer Response Operations Monica Vaca.

“Impostor phone scams was the number one fraud reported to the Sentinel last year,” she said. “People reported losing more than $667 million to impostors, who often pretended to be calling from the government or well-known business, a romantic interest or a family member with an emergency.”

People who lost money most often paid with a gift card.

“Social Security impostors was the top government scam reported,” Vaca said. “There were 166,190 reports about the Social Security scam and the median individual loss was $1,500.”

The report said phone calls were the number one way people were contacted by scammers. Most people hung up on the calls and those who didn’t, reported a median loss of $1,000 in 2019.

“Because of your reports, the FTC and it’s law enforcement partners were able to investigate the people and companies that trick people into paying them money,” Vaca said. “Your reports help build and bring those cases, which also helps us enforce laws that stop scams and other dishonest business practices that take people’s money.”

Last year, FTC law enforcement actions led to more than $232 million in refunds to people who lost money. More than 1.9 million people received checks form the FTC to compensate them for their losses to fraudsters.

“In the last four years, the FTC has refunded more than a billion dollars into the pockets of those who have lost money to scammers,” she said. “So if you spot a scam tell us about it by contacting us at ftc.gov/giftcards.”

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