The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office is advising the public to be aware of scam telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  With the April tax deadline approaching, the Sheriff’s Office wants the public to be aware of a scam where individuals posing as IRS agents, or law enforcement officials collecting debts on behalf of the IRS, are calling citizens in attempt to extort money.

 The perpetrators will identify themselves as either IRS Agents, or members of law enforcement and will inform the person receiving the call they have overdue taxes and will demand the bill be paid immediately.  The caller will want the citizen to pay the overdue bill either through a wire transfer or via a prepaid debit card.  In the event the person refuses to pay, the caller will often threaten arrest or suspension of the person’s driver’s license. Some of these callers may actually “spoof” the telephone number of the IRS or local law enforcement, to appear legitimate, as the number will show IRS or law enforcement on caller ID.

In an effort to add further legitimacy, the caller may provide personal information they were able to obtain from public sources or social media. Warning signs of a financial scam may include requesting payment immediately, agreeing to work secretly to avoid embarrassment, or directing payment go through third parties or via unconventional methods such as gift cards.

Citizens who have received scam telephone calls may report them to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) through its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page at https://www.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml.  The IRS has information at www.irs.gov that can help citizens protect themselves from tax scams of all types.  If you have any questions, or if you have been the victim of a scam, contact the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office at (301) 475-8008.