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Summer tax scam on the rise in parts of Michiana

Tax season may be over, but scammers aren’t taking a vacation. Taxpayers are falling victim to a scam that could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Cybercriminals are calling taxpayers and impersonating state or federal tax officials, claiming you owe taxes and even demanding you pay immediately.

Michigan Senator John Proos sent out a warning this week to people living in Southwest Michigan, but this affects people all across Michiana.

The scammers are asking for money through a prepaid debit card or gift card. A local CPA in South Bend says he and a number of his clients have been called.

“There MO is to pressure you into paying and generally people are very afraid of the IRS,” said Dan Osberger, a CPA at Oasis Financial. “I think the scammers use that to try to pressure people into dealing immediately with the situation and making it go away,” Osberger said.

They may even leave an urgent callback request through Robocalls or phishing emails and alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the treasury or the IRS is calling.

“They’re very illusive and they may not even be in the country,” Osberger said.

Dan has some tips to avoid falling victim to the scam:

•The IRS will never contact you over the phone, only via mail. If you don’t respond to letters, they may go into their collection service, send a representative to your home and issue a warrant.

•If the scammer threatens to arrest you, keep in mind that the IRS never threatens to arrest people, especially over the phone.

•Always guard your personal information. You should password protect your phone, hard drive and be cautious about social security numbers floating around.

•Make sure you write down the phone number you received a call from. If it seems suspicious, do a Google Search. Often times, you can find out it’s a scam.

If you paid the amount they asked for, unfortunately, tax authorities will never refund a payment to a scammer. However, you could potentially deduct it as a theft loss on your tax return.

If you receive a phone call from one of these scammers, contact your state’s Department of Treasury, local police department or tax authority.

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