Q: I recently received a phone call that stated that I owed the IRS money and if I did not send them payment right away, or I would be arrested! What should I do when I receive a call like this?
A: Thank you for your question. Scams are a concern that come up repeatedly. Looking back in the “Ask the Chief” archives, we have completed four Ask the Chiefs on scam issues. Most recently, we completed a Facebook post regarding scams, which I plan to utilize for today’s question. Please, SHARE this message with your children, parents, grandparents, and other members of our community. Repeated contacts and hearing about scams will bring about community awareness and save some members in our community from suffering from a loss!
Be alert for fake calls, texts, and emails from scammers pretending to be with the Social Security Office or the FBI. They may threaten you and may demand immediate payment to avoid arrest or other legal action. Do not fall for the scam. Hang up!
The caller/scammer may ask you to purchase Google Play, Target, Nike, Walmart, Best Buy, or other types of gift cards to pay a fee or bill. They will then ask you to share the PIN code with them.
Most recently, scammers pretend to be from the IRS or other government agency. The scammer says that you owe money for taxes, bail money, debt collection, and other reason. To avoid arrest they will instruct you to pay them with gift cards.
Another scam is when they try to convince you that a family member is in trouble. The scammer tells you that they need to be paid in gift cards in order to remedy the situation and may deter you from contacting the family member to verify the claim.
Please DO NOT believe them, and never buy gift cards for them or provide them with any gift card codes. Federal, state, and local agencies will not request gift cards for payment to resolve legal problems.
Scammers are always changing the ways they trick people. If anyone asks you for a code, it could be a scam. Especially if they provide you directions on how to avoid suspicion from the checkout clerk! Never use gift cards to pay for fee or bills. Never share the code on the back of the gift card with anyone.
If you receive a questionable call, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or if you provided personal information, or sent money/gift cards, contact the Red Wing Police Department at the non-emergency number 651.385.3155.
Please feel free to share this Q & A on your social media sites or in your organization’s newsletter.