IRS phone scammer tries to trick Clallam sheriff

SEQUIM — The caller told the sheriff he could be arrested if he didn’t pay up immediately.

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict played along with the Monday evening caller to see what information would be solicited.

In addition to his name and address, he was asked for his Social Security number and checking account routing number.

He asked around and found two other neighbors who received similar calls this week.

“IRS scammers are hitting us right now,” Benedict said Wednesday.

Calls are generally from overseas or far out of the area. This one was from New York, Benedict said.

Those who talk with the caller or who call back are asked for personal information that should never be provided over the phone.

The proper response is to hang up.

But Benedict is concerned that some might be intimidated into providing unnecessary access to their bank accounts — and get cleaned out.

If people give them their money, “we cannot ever get their money back for them,” Benedict said.

The IRS says on its website, www.irs.gov/uac/tax-scams-consumer-alerts, that it will never call to demand immediate payment, threaten arrest or ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

It also says it will never demand payment without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to appeal the amount said to be owed.

“The only time the IRS will call you is if you call them first,” Benedict said.

Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Stanko said Wednesday that he is not aware of any increase in such scams in Jefferson County.

Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams and fake IRS communication, the IRS said.