A new scam, perpetrated by telephone, has emerged in Central Texas, targeting our large veteran population.
This is a new twist on an old scam, telling me that the perpetrator of this scheme has little imagination and even less of an intelligence quotient.
The caller professes to be an official from the Veterans Administration and tells the intended target that he or she has been awarded a 100 percent disability rating as a result of military service-related disabilities.
The scammer asks the target for a bank account number to which monies owed them will be deposited. Should this be ringing a very loud bell?
The scammer knows the target’s full name and address at the time of the call, making the guise more plausible. This information, of course, is readily available to anyone from the local phone book if the number is listed. Anyone who is computer literate is able to obtain a large volume of information about almost anyone from Internet resources, including names of family members and dates of birth.
This scammer does not possess information available to the VA on any application for disability, attesting to the armature status and simple-mindedness of this criminal.
Does this appear too simple minded to work with anyone of average intelligence? It does to me, but alas, I’m suspicious of everyone. There are those, however, with whom this scam will work, particularly those who have applied for VA disability and are awaiting a reply.
Because Central Texas has a large veteran population, scammers are bound to hit pay dirt with enough contacts being made.
This scam, like others before it, will broaden in venue, expanding to other communities with a veteran population.
An informed public will cause this scam to fail or grow legs and move on. There is an old law enforcement adage; If you can’t stop it, cause it to move to another jurisdiction.
Ladies and gentlemen, neither the VA nor any governmental entity or legitimate business will ever request or require your financial information by telephone. Stop falling for these inane schemes. You will gain nothing, but you stand to lose a lot.
If you have a valid VA claim, you know the VA agent with whom you filed your claim. You also have claim paperwork signed by an authorized representative of the Veterans Administration. These are the folks with whom you should have contact.
Although the deadline for filing tax returns has come and gone, the scammers employing the IRS scam have not.
In 2015, scams cost victims over $23 million. The treasury Inspector General for tax Administration (TIGTA) received about 736,000 scam contacts in the preceding three-year period.
Scammers try to scare their victims into remitting funds for a supposed tax bill. They often alter caller ID to make it appear the call is actually from the IRS. They may even request you send a copy of your receipt for a remittance to an actual IRS office, which lends credence to their scam.
As stated above, no government agency, including the Internal Revenue Service will ever request financial information from you over the telephone.
The IRS may telephonically contact you, but only after having sent documentation to you by mail. This documentation will have reference numbers no scammers will have access to.
According to the IRS official website, the IRS will not:
Call you to demand payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, require that you pay with a pre-paid debit card. Scammers will do that.
Ask you for a debit or credit card number over the phone.
Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe you do, do not provide any information and hang up immediately.
Report the contact to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
If you owe taxes or think you might, contact the IRS at 800-8239-1040 for assistance by IRS workers.
John Vander WERFF is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.