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Avoid tax scams with Farmington Hills police presentation

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 13, 2018

FARMINGTON HILLS — You receive a dreaded phone call from the IRS about your taxes and give the person on the other end sensitive information to solve the “problem.” 

But down the road, when you discover that your information has been compromised, you realize that the phone call actually did not come from the IRS. Where do you go from there? 

For starters, you could attend the Farmington Hills Police Department’s crime prevention presentation on tax scams at 11 a.m. Feb. 22 at the Costick Center, 28600 W. 11 Mile Road. 

Even if you have not been a victim of a tax scam, it is a good idea to attend to learn about IRS phone scams, spoofing, phishing, tax-related identity theft, a credit alert versus a credit freeze, and what to do next if you are a victim of identity theft, Crime Prevention Technician Monica Kollar said.

“The (Police Department) is still receiving calls regarding residents receiving calls from the IRS. The IRS does not call, text message or email people,” Kollar said, adding that the IRS “strictly” sends out letters. “If a resident answers the phone and they are unsure if they have any outstanding issues with the IRS, they can call the IRS on their general line and ask. Residents should hang up when receiving these calls or let them go to voicemail.”

According to a press release, the meeting will discuss how thousands of people annually in the United States fall victim to tax scams and lose a combined millions of dollars.

The release added that scammers will use the phone, email and regular mail to trick people into giving them personal information. The presentation will help attendees learn to recognize scammers and to protect their own identity and assets. 

Kollar said that people should file their taxes ahead of the April deadline.

“The earlier the better,” she said via email. “Due to a lot of people e-filing, an indicator that a taxpayer’s information has been stolen is if the return is rejected and the IRS sends you a letter indicating that the information does not match their records.”

She added that when e-filing and using various tax preparation software, people should make sure that their personal computer has up-to-date security software “that has anti-virus protection on it.”

Crime Prevention Technician Heather Bowman said in an email that identity theft has been an issue for some time now. 

“It happens in every city and state in our country,” Bowman said. “Every year, thousands of people lose millions of dollars and their personal information to well-crafted scams.”

Bowman said that tax scams have more of a seasonal element because tax time starts Jan. 31 and ends April 17, “with the ripple effect lasting often into the following months,” she said. “Unfortunately, no ... group is exempt from the criminals that perpetuate identity theft. However, much of it can be prevented simply by closely monitoring your credit and personal accounts.”

Bowman said that education is key.

The meeting is open to all residents. Pre-registration is required either in person at the Costick Center or by calling (248) 473-1830.

For more information, email the FHPD’s Crime Prevention Section at crime or call (248) 871-2750.