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Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Warns Residents of Active Phone Scam

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is experiencing a large volume of phone calls from citizens who are reporting a familiar phone scam which is especially prevalent during tax season.  

In this particular scam, the caller claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service or United States Department of the Treasury, and informs the caller that they owe an outstanding tax bill.

The scammer then tries to con the targeted victim into sending cash through a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave urgent callback requests through “robo-calls” or via a “phishing” e-mail.  

The scammers can use caller ID spoofing to make it look as if the call is coming from the IRS or another agency. They may also use IRS titles, or fake badge numbers and use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

It is important to note that the IRS does not:

— Call to let you know you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.

— Require you to pay your taxes with a pre-paid debit card.  

— Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone. 

— Threaten to bring in local law enforcement to arrest you for not paying.

If you receive a call of this nature, do not give out any information and hang up immediately.

Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800.366.4484 or use the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page.

The Sheriff’s Office does not want to see any of our citizens fall victim to a scam, and cautions you to never give personal or financial information out over the phone without ensuring that the call is legitimate.

— Kelly Hoover is public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

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