The flu isn’t the only nasty thing that’s spread across Iowa in recent weeks. Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for Iowa’s Attorney General, says phone scams continue to be a problem. “We’re getting calls, dozens of calls every day from people who are reporting some kind of impersonation or impostor scam,” Greenwood says.
Greenwood says they are cold or random calls to people across the state. “They pick up the phone, the person on the other end of the line says I’m with the IRS or I’m with the sheriff’s office or I’m with your energy company, you owe us money and you need to pay us right now or you risk getting arrested before the end of the day,” Greenwood explains. “They are threatening phone calls, they demand action now.”
He says one of the keys that the calls are a scam is the caller is urgent that you pay immediately. “They want you to give them a credit card number or a debit card number, or a prepaid money card number, in some cases even wiring them money, and then they say you won’t get arrested. These are all scam calls, they are very effective calls,” Greenwood says. He says the calls may’ve picked up this time of year because they can catch people at home for the holidays. And he says technology has improved to allow the scammers to hide their identities.
“They’re able to mask their numbers through what they call spoofing. So, it may look on your caller I.D. as if you really are getting a phone call from the IRS or from some number. But it’s really an overseas call, the number is made up and is certainly not their phone number,” according to Greenwood. “It adds to the scam, it makes it more believable, and unfortunately people are falling for it.”
Greenwood says the high pressure tactics asking you to pay and the call itself are an indication the caller is running a scam. “The IRS is not going to cold call you and tell you that you owe back taxes or penalties and that you need to pay now. The same goes for your the local sheriff’s office and any other governmental agency,” Greenwood says. “They are going to deal with you through the mail, if necessary certified mail. They are not going to call you at home or on your cellphone.”