The Gila Valley is being plagued by an IRS phone scam

SAFFORD – A thief doesn’t have to sneak into your house at night to steal your money anymore.

The Gila Valley is being plagued by an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phone scam. According to a press release from the Safford Police Department, a scammer will call the victim and use an automated recording informing that they owe the IRS a fake tax bill. The recording will tell the victim to call a fraudulent IRS number. After calling the fake number, an IRS impersonator will tell the victim to pay fees with an iTunes payment or with pre-paid gift cards . If the victim shows any type of hesitation, the scammer will proceed to threaten the victim and try to bully them into giving up their money.

Any type of impromptu call from the IRS demanding payment of tax fees is a clear indication of a scam. According to the IRS, the department does not solicit tax payments over the telephone.

Thatcher Police Chief Shaffen Woods said he had heard of the scam and that several people in his department had even been targets of it.

“People need to be careful of giving personal information over the phone,” Woods said. “If they are in doubt, they can always hang up and contact the police if they feel like something is not right.  But we encourage people to be vigilant and take precautionary measures to protect their sensitive personal information.”

Ways to Avoid Phone Hoaxes

  • Always do your research first. Before you give your information, money, or any valuable information of any sort, call the police or do an online search. Google the company or product name with words like “review” “Complaint,” or “Scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes the situation.
  • Spot the impostor. Sometimes scammers pose as a government official, family member or charity. Don’t send money or give any personal information as a response to an unexpected request via text, phone call or e-mail.
  • Do not believe your caller ID. Technology is easily thwarted in this day and age. Scammers can easily fake caller ID information. If someone calls asking for personal information or money, hang up.
  • Do not pay for a promised reward. If they ask for money advances in debt relief, loan offers, mortgage assistance, jobs or prizes in exchange for rewards, it is a fraudulent scam.
  • Think about the way they are asking you to pay them. Credit cards usually have fraud protection. However, Western Union, or MoneyGram is a risky money movement because it has no fraud insurance.
  • Hang up immediately on recorded calls. Recorded sales pitches are almost always scams.