Scammers take advantage of government shutdown

Scam takes advantage of people who have past problems with IRS

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Since the government shutdown began, some scam artists are deciding to take advantage.

The Better Business Bureau said there are a couple scams, including one that involves taking advantage of people who have had past problems with the IRS.

"People are getting called by someone who claims to be an IRS agent, and these are people who've had IRS problems before," said Tom Stephens with the Better Business Bureau. "Their tax liens are public, so they're searching tax records with that and using the shotgun approach to call people with same name and tell them, 'If you don't send me 1,000 bucks by money card, they're going to be arrested.' That's happening right now."

Since most IRS operations are closed down, it's hard to confirm what's legitimate and what's not. Stephens adds another one of the scams that's picked up in intensity since the shutdown is people claiming to help you enroll with the Affordable Care Act.

"Sites are not working very well so people are getting called and actually knocks on the door in some places, and saying they're here to help them enroll by giving social security numbers," said Stephens.

The BBB said if you're suspicious, other than census workers knocking on your door, the federal government will only contact you by mail.

"In none of those cases can they actually do what they say they're going to do. One, the government will never call you, never email you, never knock on your door," said Stephens. "If anyone does call you or come to your door, you are well within your rights to call police to check out whether that person is legitimate."

Stephens also said with the government shut down, they're also seeing a rise overall in calls from phony collection agencies. Remember that legitimate collection agencies should never threaten to arrest you or require you to wire any money immediately.

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