Submitted

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has seen a rise in fraudulent investigations over the past few years, primarily consisting of phone call and internet scams. One prominent scam that some Lincoln County citizens have already fallen victim to is IRS fraud.

The way in which scammers do their fraudulent business makes it extremely difficult for the sheriff’s office, or any other law enforcement agency, to actually apprehend these criminals. The scammers have sophisticated systems which make it nearly impossible to trace the scams back to them. Although this is extremely frustrating, especially to those who have already fallen victim to such a scam or any other one, the LCSO feels the need to provide the public with some general information.

The IRS scam is just one of many scams out there. Please be very cautious with anyone over the phone or internet that you do not know. There are many tactics to try and lure you into their scam. Many times the scammer acts like its urgent, whatever the scam may be. They want you to act quickly so you don’t have time to think or inquire about it. Many scams make it seem that you’ve won something or have inherited a bunch of money. Some will try and make it sound like one of your family members is in jail or in the hospital and needs money for bail or medical needs. Others may say something is wrong or outdated with your computer and will try to convince you they can fix it, only for you to later realize that they’ve stolen your personal information and money. Some scammers have also claimed to be a local utility company, threatening to discontinue service unless you pay them immediately.

These are just a few of the many scams out there. For those scams that say you’ve won something, just remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. When in doubt, consult with another family member, a friend, or law enforcement.

Be very cautious when dealing with Western Union, debit card/pre-loaded debit cards, and gift card transactions. Scammers try to convince you to buy debit cards or gifts cards, have you load money on them, then require you to provide them with the appropriate card number and pin code to take the money from it.

When it comes to IRS scams, the criminals caller may demand money or might say you have a refund due, to try and trick you into sharing private information. They sound very convincing when they call and sometimes may know a few things about you. They will also typically alter the caller ID, using fake names and bogus IRS identification. Sometimes when you don’t answer, they leave an “urgent” call-back request.

According to the actual IRS, these telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country. These are five things the IRS has confirmed it will never do:

• Call to demand immediate payment. Nor will they call about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.

• 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.

• Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, do not give them any form of payment over the phone. If you know you owe taxes or think you might, contact the IRS yourself.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also has a complaint center for all internet crimes at www.ic3.gov .

The citizens of Lincoln County are always welcome to contact the sheriff’s office at (775) 962-8080 and report any suspicious or fraudulent activity. If you’re not sure whether it’s a scam or fraud, you can always call our office and have an officer respond to assist you.