Raleigh, N.C. — It's as dependable as Groundhog Day – every year, during tax season, scammers impersonate IRS or state revenue agents, telling targets that they owe back taxes and must pay immediately to avoid prosecution.
In the past, most such fraud schemes have relied on phone calls. But this year, there's a new twist: Some scammers are showing up in person on doorsteps.
Spokesman Trevor Johnson says the North Carolina Department of Revenue found out about the new tactic when a scammer picked the wrong target recently – an agency employee.
The employee, who declined to be identified, "obviously knew that is not the way we operate," Johnson said.
The scammers often present fake credentials and demand personal information from their targets, such as bank cards and Social Security numbers.
"'We’ll need to verify your Social Security number before we’ll talk to you,' 'We need payment right now' – a lot of things that the Department of Revenue would not do under any circumstances," Johnson explained.
"If somebody tells you you have to pay this way, you should be immediately suspicious," he said. "There’s a variety of ways that taxpayers can settle a liability with the department. Demanding a debit card on site is not one of those methods."
Anyone targeted by one of these tax fraud schemes should refuse to offer the scammers any information, Johnson said. If you want to know whether you owe back taxes, you can check by calling or visiting one of the department's service centers.