Attorney General Joseph A. Foster warns New Hampshire residents that IRS scam calls continue to be received throughout New Hampshire. Since the beginning of January, 2016, the Attorney General’s Office has received over 1,200 complaints related to these IRS scams, with no indication that those calls are becoming less frequent. The Attorney General issues this alert, as he did last February and, again in 2015.
Frequently, residents will receive unsolicited calls from individuals fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS demanding payment for taxes allegedly past due. The callers typically ask for some sort of immediate payment and request debit or credit card numbers. Some callers even threaten arrest, wage garnishment, or other forms of legal process to coerce the resident into making the payment.
The IRS continues to caution taxpayers that their first contact with a delinquent taxpayer will not be a phone call but will almost always be in the form of a letter from the IRS sent through the mail. The IRS also does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information and it never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the phone. You should always verify carefully the authenticity of any demand for payment, especially if that demand comes during an unsolicited phone call or email.
The Attorney General advises everyone, in the first instance, to hang up immediately if you receive one of these threatening and demanding calls, to not engage the caller in any respect and to be suspicious of all unsolicited calls asking for personal or financial information. The Attorney General advises that people should never provide personal information over the phone, in an email, or through the Internet unless that person has verified the source of the inquiry. A second prevalent IRS related scam being reported is tax-related identity theft. This can occur when the perpetrator uses a stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Often, the victim is unaware that the theft has happened until the person files his or her return and only then discovers that a fraudulent return had already been filed and the refund sent to the thief.
If you become a victim of tax-related identity theft, you should:
- File a report with your local police
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov or call the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338
- Contact the IRS and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert” on your credit records:
o www.Equifax.com 1-800-525-6285
o www.Experian.com 1-888-397-3742
o www.TransUnion.com 1-800-680-7289
Attorney General Foster also offers the following advice about how to reduce the risk of identity theft.
- Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card or any document with your SSN on it.
- Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask – only do so when it is absolutely necessary.
- Secure your printed personal information at home by placing it in a locked drawer or safe or in a bank safe deposit box.
- Check your credit report annually with one of the three free agencies listed above. You are entitled to one free report each year from each of the three agencies.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or the Internet unless you have either initiated the contact or are sure you know who is asking.
New Hampshire consumers can also call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 1-888-468-4454 or file a formal complaint at http://doj.nh.gov/consumer/complaints/index.htm.