CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster warns New Hampshire residents that with federal income tax season upon us, IRS related scams are on the increase.
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 cautions taxpayers that their first contact 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.
“Like many Granite-Staters, I have received these calls at my home, on my personal cell phone and even on my work phone.” Attorney General Foster said. “No one is immune from these scams. The callers can sound intimidating and very threatening. But my best advice is to hang up immediately.”
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: www.Equifax.com 1-800-525-6285 www.Experian.com 1-888-397-3742 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 you 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 information line at 1-888-468-4454 or file a formal complaint here.