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Scammers arrive for tax time

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is reminding Oregonians that a "sophisticated" phone scam is making the rounds this tax season, and she is urging anyone targeted to just hang up the phone.

During the call, scammers tell targets they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service or the Oregon Department of Revenue and that they must pay immediately using a temporary debit card or wire transfer. Those who refuse payment are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of their driver's license.

"In many cases, the caller becomes aggressive and insulting," a news release from the Oregon Department of Justice says. "Oregonians need to be vigilant as the April 15 tax deadline approaches. The IRS and the Oregon Department of Revenue will never ask you to pay with a pre-paid debit card or make a wire transfer."

Other characteristics of the scammers include use of fake names and badge numbers. Scammers also may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security number and sometimes send fake emails to targets to support their claims. Background noises such as phone conversations may be heard during the call.

After a failed attempt, scammers sometimes hang up and call back, pretending to be from the local police or Driver and Motor Vehicle Services, with a fake caller ID to support their claim.

"You can spoof a phone number," said Medford police Detective Sgt. Brent Mak. "They could literally spoof the number to be the 1-800 number that would be for the IRS."

Anyone who receives these bogus calls should hang up, officials said. Those who think they may owe taxes should call either the IRS at 800-829-1040 or the Oregon Department of Revenue at 800-356-4222. Those who do not think they owe should call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

"I'd just be very leery of anyone contacting you," Mak said.

Anyone who has lost money through this scam can file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice, either online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or by phone at 877-877-9392.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.