Over the past few years, various types of scams have been targeting people in North Carolina, resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars. Some popular scams have involved persons making fake calls pretending to be from the Sheriff’s department or the Internal Revenue Service. In these fake calls, the callers demand payment, or threaten jail time, for missing jury duty or having an error on a tax return. Payment is sometimes demanded in odd forms such as gift cards, or directed to be deposited in an account at a local bank.
First, it is important to note, neither of these entities (the IRS or the Sheriff) will contact you directly to solicit payment. If you truly do owe a debt to the IRS, you will receive notification via U.S. mail. If you have received a call from someone stating you owe a debt, try to get as much documentation from the caller to verify the debt before proceeding. Second, be aware of what form of payment the caller is demanding. If the caller requests that you purchase gift cards to pay the debt, it is a red flag that you are the target of a scam. Additionally, most legitimate creditors, especially the IRS, will not have you make payment by directly depositing money into a local bank account. Third, it is rare you would ever face jail time for failure to pay a debt, with the exception of a failure to comply with a court order. If the caller is threatening an immediate arrest if you do not provide payment, you are being scammed.
If you are reading these warnings too late and have already become a victim to a scammer, there are a few things you can do. You will want to file a police report regarding the incident and provide as much information as you can to your local authorities. Unfortunately, if you paid in gift cards, the likelihood of recovery of that money is slim to none. These scammers often get the numbers from the gift cards to transfer the money off the gift card before the end of the call. However, if you deposited money into a local bank account, you need to contact the bank as soon as possible and let them know you believe you were the victim of a scam. Many banks have fraud investigators who do surveillance of accounts. If you are able to contact the bank quickly enough, then your deposit might be able to be transferred into a hold harmless account while your case is investigated. Additionally, if you were the victim of a scam where the caller stated they were with the IRS, you will want to file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. If you are able to have your deposit put into a hold harmless account before the scammer has access to the funds, you have a better chance of being able to have the funds returned to you. You will want to provide the police report and any complaints you filed with the Treasury Inspector General to the bank. You will then need to work with the bank and the hold harmless group to have the funds released to you.
If you suspect you might be a victim of a money scam and would like legal assistance, please feel free to contact Kreger Brodish to schedule a consultation.