Beware of Utility, IRS- and Tax-Related Scams

Utility Scams

In recent weeks, a number of Wake Forest Power customers have been targeted in a utility scam by individuals claiming to represent Duke Energy.

In each incident, the customer reported receiving a phone call from a person identifying himself as a Duke Energy employee. The caller attempted to obtain personal information and threatened immediate service disconnection if immediate payment was not made with a prepaid debit card.

Fortunately, none of the individuals provided the requested information and instead reported the incident to the Wake Forest Police Department.

Police officials are again reminding residents to protect against fraud by contacting the police department if they suspect or experience fraudulent activity. Please also note the following fraud prevention tips:

*Occasionally, Wake Forest Power may call you to discuss your account. If we do, we will provide you with information that only you and Wake Forest Power would know in order to validate that our call is legitimate. If, after receiving the information, you are uncomfortable providing personal information by phone, or if you believe the call is a scam, hang up and call the Town of Wake Forest directly at 919-435-9400.

*Do not accept offers from anyone, including those claiming to be Wake Forest Power or Town of Wake Forest employees, to pay your bill or provide any other service for a fee.

*Wake Forest Power only charges convenience fees for payments using MoneyGram for its Pay-As-You-Go program. Wake Forest Power does not charge convenience fees for any other programs.

*Wake Forest Power customers who have delinquent accounts receive multiple notifications from the Town of Wake Forest over the course of several weeks prior to electric service disconnection – never just a single notification one hour before disconnection.

*Wake Forest Power never asks or requires customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid electric service disconnection. Customers can make payments any number of ways, including online, by phone, by automatic bank draft, by mail or in person.

*If you or someone you know has a question about whether someone is a legitimate representative of Wake Forest Power, call the Town of Wake Forest at 919-435-9400. Call police immediately if you believe the person is an imposter.

*Guard against fraud – never share your personal information, including birthday, Social Security number or banking account information.

IRS- and Tax-Related Scams

The Wake Forest Police Department is again warning area residents not to be fooled by scammers impersonating IRS investigators. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

Potential phone scam victims may be told they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS or they are entitled to big refunds. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.

The callers who commit this fraud often share the following characteristics:

*Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.

*Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.

*Make caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling.

*Send bogus IRS emails to support their scam.

*Call a second time claiming to be the police or DMV, and caller ID again supports their claim.

It is important for taxpayers to know the IRS:

*Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

*Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations.

*Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation.

Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:

*If you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.

*If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

*You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

Be alert for phone and email scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media.

The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

Wake Forest Police are also warning residents to be aware of tax-related identity theft.

Tax return identity theft happens when thieves use your Social Security Number to file tax returns and claim a large refund. You discover the fraud when you file your own tax return and the Internal Revenue Service says they’ve already processed a return using your name and number.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office says avoiding tax return ID theft starts by protecting your confidential information. Don’t carry your Social Security Number (SSN) in your wallet or purse unless you need it with you for an appointment that day. Don’t leave your SSN where someone can steal it, and shred unneeded documents that include it.

If you receive a letter from the IRS stating that they already processed your return, contact their Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 1-800-908-4490. In most cases, taxpayers are able to work with the IRS to straighten out their tax returns and, eventually, get their refund.

Wake Forest, NCFor more information on how to protect yourself against fraud or if you believe you are a victim of these types of crime, call the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150.