WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - With tax season reaching a peak, the Scarsdale Police Department is warning local homeowners to be on high alert for fraudsters attempting to scam locals by pretending to the be the Internal Revenue Service.
Over the weekend, Scarsdale Police Capt. Thomas Altizio issued a warning to the community, cautioning them to be wary of scammers using the IRS name or logo, attempting to gain access to consumers’ financial information to steal their identities and assets.
Altizio said that scammers will use the regular mail, telephone, fax or emails - also known as phishing - to set up their victims. According to the IRS, there was approximately a 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents during last year’s tax season.
"Scam emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics,” Altizio noted. “Emails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.”
According to Altizio, variations of those scams have also been seen via text messages throughout the country. Emails that contain the direction, “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately,” are to be flagged and reported. Phishing emails may mention USA.gov and IRSgov - without a dot between IRS and gov - and are not from the IRS.
Additionally, the warning said scammers will ask for Social Security numbers and personal information that could be used to file a false tax return. Some sites may also carry malware, which can infect computers and allow criminals access to files or track keystrokes to gain pertinent information, Altizio noted.
“Never respond to any telephone or Internet request for money or your personal identifying information (social security number, bank accounts, PIN numbers) without first speaking to a trusted friend, relative, legal advisor or your local police department.”