Tax season is upon us, and evil people want to take your money.
No, not those people. The other ones: scammers posing as representatives of the Internal Revenue Service who call and say you owe money, better pay up, Bub, or we’re coming over to have you arrested.
In what’s becoming an unfortunate but annual early year ritual, the Bainbridge Island Police Department is warning residents that the sophisticated IRS phone scam is ramping up again, with con men calling and asking for money supposedly due to the government be paid to them via a pre-loaded debit card, or a wire transfer.
Bainbridge police say those who refuse to go along with the payment scam are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of their driver’s license or business license.
But wait. There’s more.
Other scams making the rounds now include the familiar “Send Bail Money” or “I’m in Trouble” scam. It’s also known as the “granny scam,” where someone will call and pose as a loved one and ask their “relative” on the other end of the line for a money transfer because they’ve been arrested and need money pronto. If the worried “relative” cooperates, they’re usually asked to send even more money through a wire transfer.
Another shocking scam is one that is somewhat unique to our area, where scammers will go door-to-door during power outages, and claim to be from Puget Sound Energy. They’ll then offer to restore power for a fee.
PSE officials note that’s not something the company would do.
Some scammers are also using “spoofing” technology to mask their real phone numbers so what’s displayed instead on your phone is PSE’s name and number.
In these cases, the scammers threaten to cut off the customer’s power in 30 minutes unless a payment is made via a money card or prepaid debit card. Or, they’ll leave a message with a phony phone number, asking for a call back.
Remember, anyone asking for an immediate payment via a wire transfer or prepaid debit card is not legit. When in doubt, hang up and call the phone number listed on your last bill.