Scammers impersonating debt collectors, pocketing debt payments
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently issued a consumer alert following reports of bogus tax debt collection scams. The New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate has reported fraudulent activity by scammers posing as debt collectors seeking to settle alleged outstanding state tax debts. The scammers are pressuring consumers into sending payments via money order to satisfy debts the consumers may not actually owe.
"Middle-class families across New York state work hard to support their families, and we don't want them to get ripped off by scammers," Schneiderman said. "Consumers should be wary of any telephone solicitation asking them to send money and should always request appropriate documentation in writing."
Schneiderman has received a variety of complaints about tax-related consumer scams. This latest scheme involves scammers telling consumers they owe a tax debt to the state, which may not actually exist, and then promising to settle the alleged debt for a fraction of the cost they claim is owed. Some of the calls have been reported as coming from the number 305-507-8505.
Scammers are reportedly using high-pressure tactics to intimidate consumers into purchasing money orders to satisfy debts and then instructing them to call back for instructions on how to submit the payment. Both federal and state tax authorities send notifications in writing. Consumers should be wary of demands for tax payment via phone, especially if the caller suggests the use of a money order to remit payment.
Schneiderman is urging New Yorkers to be vigilant consumers and to report instances of fraud to his office. Consumers who believe they have been victims of any tax scams are urged to file complaints by visiting the office's website www.ag.ny.gov or calling 1-800-771-7755.
In an effort to help New Yorkers avoid various tax-themed scams, the attorney general's office offered the following tips:
•The IRS and legitimate government agencies never demand payment by phone;
•If you owe money, you will receive a legitimate notice in writing that identifies the agency and the reason you owe money;
•Do not give out personal information to telephone callers, including your Social Security number or bank account information;
•Legitimate government organizations will never threaten arrest or deportation for failure to pay a debt.
Some additional websites with helpful information include:
•New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate