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April brings phony tax scams

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s attorney general and tax commissioner are urging Vermonters to avoid the worst kind of April Fool’s trick: scams that could lure them into losing hundreds or thousands of dollars. State officials met at the Tax Department two weeks before the April 16 tax filing deadline to warn Vermonters about the “IRS scam,” identity theft and what they can do to protect themselves.
“Don’t be fooled,” said Attorney General T.J. Donovan. “With tax season just around the corner we want Vermonters to be alert and avoid problems that could cost them money.”
Donovan said that his office received over 5,000 calls reporting scam activity in the last year. More than 45 percent of those were related to the IRS scam.
“The IRS will not call you if you owe them money, they send a letter,” said Donovan. “If you aren’t sure, hang up and call the IRS directly.”
Suzanne Marshall of Proctor was recently called five times in one day by a scammer pretending to be an IRS agent.
“I suspected that it was not actually the IRS,” she said. “But, the calls really were harassing and they did try to trick me into believing it was the IRS. They were brazen enough to leave me voicemail messages.
“I can see how some people could fall into this trap,” she added.
Marshall said that in her case she didn’t fall for the scam and instead called the Attorney General’s Office to report it.
The Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Taxes provide Vermonters with tips to avoid scammers:
•  Beware of unsolicited calls or emails.
•  Don’t give out personal information.
•  Be alert to scare tactics: Scammers demand immediate action or threaten arrest or court action.
•  Don’t talk to them: Hang up!
•  Don’t open attachments: Hit delete!
Vermonters who want to report scam activity or sign up for Scam Alerts can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at uvm.edu/consumer; or call 1-800-649-2424.

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