By Moses Leos III
Kyle Police are asking residents to remain vigilant after reports of a phone scam involving impersonators posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents have surfaced once again.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said KPD received reports last week from residents who claimed they received calls from phony IRS agents. The most recent incident had scammers asking residents to pay back money they “owe” in the form of iTunes cards.
According to the IRS official website, the service has seen an increase in “robo-calls” from scammers attempting to target potential victims to “settle their tax bill.”
In Kyle, residents were told by the scammers they have unpaid taxes or owe back taxes, and that the scammers were working in coordination with local authorities.
Barnett said the most recent calls involve a tactic called spoofing, where the caller uses a different phone number to show up on their potential victim’s caller ID. Barnett said spoofing is a crime and is illegal.
Scammers targeting Kyle residents have used the KPD’s non-emergency line.
“This is a typical scam where the callers will make the number that shows up on caller ID that of the Kyle Police Department or any other law enforcement agency,” Barnett said.
Scammers will attempt to convince potential victims they owe money and ask to obtain some form of repayment, Barnett said.
He said one person has fallen victim to the scam, with the victim losing an unknown amount of money when they provided the scammers with the iTunes card information.
The scam is similar to those seen across the United States and in the Central Texas area, Barnett said.
He said Cedar Park and Leander Police Departments have combatted similar scams over the summer. Barnett said the calls are random and scammers are not targeting any specific age group.
Barnett said residents should avoid giving money to any agency, company or debt collection service when they don’t owe money.
He said residents should be wary if they receive a call that seems “less than official” and the call is not made from an official number.
According to the IRS official website, the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first mailing information.
In addition, the IRS will not threaten to bring in local police for non-payment, demand payment without opportunity to question nor appeal the amount, or ask for a specific payment method, such as gift cards.
“It used to be that most of these bogus calls would come from a live-person. Scammers are evolving and using more and more automated calls in an effort to reach the largest number of victims possible,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Taxpayers should remain alert for this summer surge of phone scams, and watch for clear warning signs as these scammers change tactics.”
Barnett said residents should be aware of who is calling and what number they call from.
“Don’t send money to an organization or agency unless you’re certain you’re dealing with a lawful agent,” Barnett said.