• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

IRS scam sweeps the county

There’s a good chance you’ve gotten a not-so-friendly call recently from someone claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or, if not, you know someone who has. Teri Tucker did, early last week on her cell phone, which doubles as the business line for Woodford Thoroughbreds on Grassy Springs Road. “I answer it, and it’s a recording from a person stating that they’re the IRS and this is the final notice that I owe them money,” Tucker said. It was not the final call she received, however. “I cut the calls off – I didn’t answer them – and I’ve never talked to a person, it’s always a recording. And then if I do deny the calls, they’ll end up leaving a message, and then they want you to call that number they called from …” Tucker said. She called the Better Business Bureau of Central Kentucky the next day, but the calls kept coming. Some came – or seemed to come – from area codes 302 and 724. “For about two or three days, I was consistently getting these calls …” she said, and though she knew early on that the calls were not from the IRS, she grew concerned. “Because then there are rumors I’ve heard that they’re still getting information. I never do any banking from my phone anyway, (but) I’ve heard that they’re possibly getting banking information, your other personal ID stuff and whatnot, and that they’re from overseas, disguising as a U.S. number,” Tucker said. “I kind of feel violated, I guess, if you will ...” Heather Clary, the communications director for the Lexington BBB, said an inspector general for the U.S. Treasury’s tax division noticed the high volume of calls mentioned in a BBB alert last week. A special agent from the department’s Louisville noticed stopped by and encouraged Clary and company to pass along their website (www.treasury.gov/tigta) and for victims and near-victims to complete a form about IRS-related scams. The BBB passed along advice on the matter from the IRS, beginning with a request not to return such calls. IRS officials say their agency will never: • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone or about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill. • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying. • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card. • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Clary said by last week, the BBB had already received more than 200 calls on the subject, including one from Woodford County resident Loretta Johnson. Johnson said she got a voicemail on May 4 from someone claiming to be with the IRS who told her a lawsuit was being filed against her, then gave a number she could call to rectify the problem. Like Tucker, she figured something was fishy. “I don’t think the IRS would call a person on their home phone, first of all. I usually just don’t pay a whole lot of attention to those sorts of calls,” she said. “It did (make me nervous) in the beginning, but … after I thought about it, I said, ‘I feel certain this has to be a scam.’” She called the BBB and spoke to Clary the morning after seeing a report on the con job by a Lexington television station. Johnson was lucky. She o got only one call from the perpetrators. Her mother-in-law, 89, though she didn’t fall for it, either, was only half as fortunate. “She received the same call twice on the day I received it once, so I do know it’s happening all over the place …” Johnson said.

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