BUCKHANNON — The Internal Revenue Service does not ask people to put money on gift cards to send in for payments.
But that is exactly what some area residents have done and some are out thousands of dollars.
TFC V.J. Pyles with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police said the detachment takes calls almost daily about scams from residents.
“We’ve been taking a ton of calls in regards to scams,” he said.
Of the recent scams, the IRS scam continues to be a big one for the area.
“Someone calls and claims they are from the IRS and says you owe money,” he said. “The caller says you will be arrested if you don’t pay the money you owe.”
Pyles said the first thing to remember is the IRS does not typically call taxpayers but communicates with them by certified mail.
Because the scam caller has a little big of background about the taypaper, the taxpayer may assume it is legit.
But the second red flag should be when the scam caller asks the taxpayer to put money on those prepaid gift cards purchased from local stores and then call the scam caller back with the card number and pin number, according to Pyles.
“Then they have the money off the card and they’ve got you,” he said.
Elderly people seem to be the main targets of this scam and Pyles said there are several people locally who have lost thousands of dollars.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s office has an entire page on its website devoted to the IRS phone scam and says it continues to receive a high volume of calls related to the scam.
The attorney general’s office advises residents to call the Internal Revenue Service directly at 1-800-829-1040, report it to the U.S. Treasury Department at 1-800-366-4484 and then call the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808.
Pyles said another scam call isn’t as prolific but a fellow trooper recently took the call.
The scam caller claimed to be from a police department and said the person’s grandson was in jail and needed bond.
They also asked for the person to purchase the prepaid gift cards just like in the IRS call and give the number and pin number from the back.
Again, the target is elderly people and the scam caller will be general by using the terms family member and a common name to hopefully get the elderly caller to agree to bond their family member out of jail.
Pyles said if anyone receives a call they should call the WVSP at 304-473-4200 who can verify if the person is actually in jail. Second, the resident should not purchase cards and give the information over the phone.
Bonding companies do not operate like that, according to Pyles.
There are many other scams arising all the time and Pyles said the important thing to remember is not to give away information over the phone such as access to your bank account or these prepaid gift cards.
For the scams that promise an incentive for sending money, Pyles said, “If it sounds too good to be true, than it is probably is.”
And once the money is out of the bank account or off of the pre-paid gift cards, it’s difficult to get back because it is normally sent to a foreign country, he added.
Sometimes people also get calls claiming to be the West Virginia State Troopers Association and requesting money.
Although the troopers association may do solicitation on the phone at certain times, Pyles said call 304-473-4200 to confirm that the troopers association is actually collecting at that point in time because there have been reports of callers claiming to be them when they are not actually collecting.
Another tip Pyles provided for residents to enjoy the summer is to limit posting on social media when residents are leaving for vacation and where they are going and will be back.