Snyder: Scams maintain unrelenting pace in region

Callers pose as IRS agents demanding payments in latest swindle

CARMICHAELS, Aug. 24 – State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today issued an alert about the latest scam to hit southwestern Pennsylvania -- bogus Internal Revenue Service agents seeking personal data through threatening or aggressive phone calls.

“Alert constituents are reporting another swarm of these calls hitting the region,” Snyder said. “But what worries me are the people who don’t call and may be falling victim by providing financial and personal information to these vile crooks.”

Snyder said hanging up promptly is the simplest way to thwart the thieves.

“The IRS – or any other credible government agency -- does not call to demand immediate payment using a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer and will generally first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes,” Snyder said. “It also does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action.”

Snyder said scam artists using phones, social media, letters and emails are constantly devising new twists to defraud victims, either through direct payments or identity theft.

“Victims may be told they are due a refund to trick them into sharing private information, and if the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an ‘urgent’ callback request,” Snyder said. “The thieves also have been known to use fake IRS titles and badge numbers to appear legitimate and may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.”

Snyder said the best defense against ever-evolving scams is constant vigilance.

“Never give out your Social Security number or other personal information over the phone or internet to someone you do not know,” Snyder said. “Do not give out any information, and hang up immediately.”

Snyder said a review of recent scams include:

  • Thieves posing as Social Security Administration workers to glean personal information, in some cases by telling recipients that they are due for a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase. (The 2018 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will not be announced until October.);

  • Fraud artists claiming to be state Treasury employees who threaten arrest if unpaid taxes are not paid. (The state Treasurer’s Office does not collect taxes and has no arresting authority.);

  • Customers receiving calls purportedly from their health insurer, asking for personal information. (These call are not affiliated with Highmark Health or any other legitimate business.); and

  • An emerging scam involving new Medicare cards that will no longer list Social Security numbers on them. (There is no need to confirm your personal information with Medicare or anyone else.

“If you receive a suspicious call, visit or email, or have fallen victim to any scam, please call my office at 724-966-8953, “Snyder said. “We can help report the scam to the appropriate state or federal agency, try to find help for victims and provide the latest ways to protect yourself from scammers.

“It’s obvious that the scams won’t stop until everyone is vigilant and puts the scammers out of business,” Snyder said.