Officials release warning against phone scams as tax day nears

UPPER MERION, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Another warning for people to watch out for scammers, this one from Upper Merion police, who want to make sure residents aren’t embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help.  

Upper Merion detective Jerome Staquet says they see a few potential scams each week, this time of year, it’s generally tax-related.

“Threatening to arrest them if they don’t pay a tax bill immediately,” Staquet said as an example. “They want payment in the form of gift cards either Apple iTunes gift cards or Google Play cards.”

Staquet says while something like using an iTunes gift card to pay a tax bill might seem like common sense; these scammers target older people, people who don’t have strong language skills, or recently naturalized citizens.

“And then the person on the phone, they come across with a commanding voice, ‘I’m with the US Government, I’m with the IRS,’” he said. “They just operating off of fear, ‘You’re going to be arrested immediately, there is a warrant out for your arrest.’”

Staquet says the IRS scam is just one of many.

He urges residents to get as much information as possible from the caller, and then don’t hesitate to call police to see if it’s true, even if it’s high-pressure, like one scam where the caller pretends to be a family member who needs bail money.

As he puts it, it’s easier to check it out before you pay any money, then try to track the money down later, as these scams are almost always out of the country, and once the money changes hands, it’s extremely unlikely it’s ever coming back.

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