Mail scams start showing up in area, region
Published 8:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2023
The letters arrive in the mailbox, showing up as “Priority 3 Day” mail. Inside the package, you’ll find two things. First, there’s what appears to be a check. Second is a notice, allegedly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), claiming that the federal government made a mistake and this is an extra tax return that you’re owed. Unfortunately, it’s a scam.
Residents in Lunenburg County and Farmville have reported running into this con. Another mail scam is also making its way through the region. This one includes a check for $2,450 and a letter claiming to be from Kroger, which tells you to deposit the check and start your career as a Secret Shopper. The letter claims you took a survey of some kind and qualified for this assignment. It then orders you to start buying gift cards, using the previously mentioned money in the check.
In both cases, the checks involved are fraudulent and should not be cashed as these scammers are trying to gain private banking information.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A SCAM?
“There are several things people can do to keep their information safe,” said Sam Bowles. He serves as public information and special projects officer for the Farmville Police Department.
Folks should be diligent in double-checking any mail, phone call or email they received from the IRS, Bowles said. The IRS encourages citizens to never give personal information or click possibly unsafe links.
The same goes for any surprise checks you receive in the mail. Always call the company referenced, to make sure this is legitimate. Nine times out of 10, it won’t be. Companies don’t send out thousands of dollars in the mail in surprise checks, claiming to be for a secret shopper or any other program.
The IRS will never demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
They will also never threaten to immediately involve law enforcement or demand payment without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed. They also never call unexpectedly about a tax refund and generally send a notice in the mail before calling.
WHAT TO DO IF A SCAM HAPPENS?
Citizens that receive these calls, e-mails, or any unexpected tax refund check should report these scams immediately. Citizens can report fake phone numbers to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484. Citizens can also email the number or forward the fake email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Beyond these methods, if a citizen is ever in doubt or concerned, they can call their respective law enforcement agency for their jurisdiction for any questions or concerns,” said Bowles.
Citizens can visit irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts to learn more about what to do and what to look for regarding these scams.