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IRS scams aplenty this week in lakes area

Scam artists are calling Brainerd lakes area residents saying they're from the IRS and are demanding money. Don't fall for it. Law enforcement can't stress enough to the citizens they serve to not fall victim to scams. Law enforcement receives re...

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Scam artists are calling Brainerd lakes area residents saying they're from the IRS and are demanding money.

Don't fall for it. Law enforcement can't stress enough to the citizens they serve to not fall victim to scams. Law enforcement receives reports on many different types of scams, but this week the IRS scam is hot.

The Baxter Police Department had about seven reports of IRS scams this week and about a dozen in the past month. The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and Brainerd Police Department also have had calls reporting the scam.

"They all go in spurts," Assistant Baxter Police Chief Russ Wicklund said of scams. "All the reports we have seen so far, none fell for it or gave any money, but a lot of people are asking us about this scam."

Wicklund said what he'd like the public to know is that they should never wire money to anyone unless they are absolutely sure they know the person on the receiving end. Wicklund said scam artists know that it is difficult for law enforcement to investigate the scams when money is wired.

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Wicklund said the IRS is never going to ask people to wire money.

Police officers believe the scam artists are getting the phone numbers from the phone book and are cold calling people, Wicklund said.

"There is no rhyme or reason to why they are calling specific people," Wicklund said.

Wickland advises people to never give any personal information to someone over the phone if they are not sure who is on the other end.

Wicklund said there are many types of scams and every year another one will pop up. He said the scams are often pressuring people to send money right away.

"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said. "If they want your information and want it over the phone or Internet, it's not how those places (like the IRS) operate."

Dahl encourages people to do their research to make sure they are talking to a legitimate organization. He also said people should use common sense and if it doesn't feel right, it most likely isn't.

"In some instances, we shouldn't be so Minnesota nice," Dahl said. "For example when people are calling and asking for money over the phone, understand that you can hang up on them, get on a no-call list and do some checking on their own. The IRS, federal government, doesn't work that way."

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Tim Roggenkamp, certified public accountant with Roggenkamp Tax and Accounting in Pequot Lakes, also has had a lot of calls from "nervous taxpayers" this week about the IRS scam. He has told the people the IRS would never contact a person by phone or threaten them.

"The main thing to realize is that, however convincing they may sound, the IRS will never contact you by phone or email and will not threaten to arrest you," Roggenkamp said. "If you do have a tax issue, you will be notified by mail. And before they would even threaten a lien or levy, they will send a certified letter indicating they may place a lien on your property and notify you of your right to appeal within 30 days. If you do have a tax problem, you should contact the IRS right away or a local tax professional."

Roggenkamp also said most "tax resolution companies" are scams.

The IRS scams began popping up last July around the country. The IRS issued a consumer alert providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

The IRS reported the callers may demand money or may say the person has a refund due and try to trick them into sharing private information. The caller may know a lot about the person, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. The scam artists use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. When people don't answer the phone call, they often leave an "urgent" callback request.

The IRS offers tips to help people spot an "IRS" caller as a fake. There are five things the scammers often do, but the IRS will not do.

The IRS reports it will never:

1. Call a person about taxes they owe without first mailing an official notice.

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2. Demand a person to pay taxes without giving them the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

3. Require a person to use a specific payment method for taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

5. Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have a person arrested for not paying.

If someone calls claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here's what the IRS states a person should do:

• If a person knows they owe taxes or think they might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS employees can help people with a payment method or plan.

• If a person knows they don't owe taxes or has no reason to believe that they do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at www.tigta.gov or call 800-366-4484.

• If a person has been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and go to FTC.gov and use its "FTC Complaint Assistant." Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of the complaint.

The IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss people's personal tax issues.

For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube youtu.be/UHlxTX4rTRU?list=PL2A3E7A9BD8A8D41D and Tumblr internalrevenueservice.tumblr.com where people can search "scam" to find all the scam-related posts.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.

Related Topics: CRIME
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