Residents in Atherton and Woodside have been targets of recent tax scams one involving attempts by the scam artist to collect a resident's tax refund and the other where impostors claim they are from the IRS and demand payment of back taxes.
In Woodside, a resident told sheriff's deputies that someone had tried to file a tax return using the resident's name and Social Security number, in an apparent attempt to pocket the refund.
In another Woodside case, residents received a letter from the IRS stating that their tax return had been filed and accepted, but they hadn't filed their return yet. The IRS advised them to report the incident to local authorities.
Atherton police say residents have received phone calls and emails from IRS impostors claiming the residents owe back taxes.
"The victims are told (the money) must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer," police said. "If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting."
This scam has been used throughout the country, according to the IRS.
The scam artists are often fairly sophisticated and use fake names and IRS badge numbers. Sometimes they know the last four digits of a victim's Social Security number, can make caller ID and email addresses appear to belong to the IRS or other public agencies. Often the impostors make follow-up phone calls if they are not successful on their first attempt.
The IRS advises those who are contacted by someone who claims they owe taxes to check with the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The incident can be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.