Tax Scam Targeting International Students
Penn State Police are warning of a tax scam targeting international Penn State students in which callers are soliciting money under the threat of revoked visas or arrests.
Reported by victims as the “IRS Scam,” “Tax Scam,”or “Arrest Warrant Scam,” it takes one of two forms — callers either identify as a tax agency seeking overdue taxes to save visas from being revoked, or as law enforcement saying that the victim must pay over the phone to avoid themselves or a loved one from being arrested.
The scammers are making their fraud seem legitimate by knowing information of whom they call using the Penn State Directory. (Students can block their information from being displayed here). The callers are also using “Caller ID spoofing” to falsify the information displayed when they call, sometimes making it seem like they’re with a government agency.
The callers are “very aggressive and persistent in trying to pressure victims to act without validating information,” according to the press release. The release lists some things the IRS never does that the scammers probably do:
- Call taxpayers about taxes they owe without first sending an official notice by mail.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount allegedly owed.
- Require taxpayers to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
It also lists some tips to avoid becoming a victim of the scammers:
- Never give out sensitive personal or financial information over the phone, especially if you receive an unsolicited telephone call from a stranger.
- Never wire money or purchase green dot-type prepaid cash cards in response to a telephone appeal, whether it is from a stranger or someone who claims to know you or an organization you may be familiar with.
- Never let emotion or fear overcome your common sense. If you get a call from someone claiming to be a government agency or law enforcement, slow down and verify everything. Don’t let anyone rush you. You can always hang up and call the agency directly to verify.
- Never give out sensitive information to anyone on the phone unless you initiated the call to a company or agency that you are certain is legitimate.
If you have any information regarding the scam, call Penn State Police at (814) 865-4700 or the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555.