Phone scams continue to target locals

Local and statewide law enforcement agencies are reporting recent surges of several scams targeting the elderly and disabled throughout the State.

Locally, reports have surfaced of City of Lockhart residents being contacted by someone claiming to be from the Electric Department calling to collect on an outstanding bill.

However, according to City officials, the City of Lockhart will never contact customers via the telephone to make collections, or to notify customers of construction, repair or disconnection.

“If you receive a phone call asking for permission to enter your property for any utility service work or requesting a payment for utility services, please hang up and call City Hall at (512) 398-3461, or the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401,” a statement on the website says.

Additionally, local residents are reporting an uptick in a long-running a tax-related scam involving unsolicited calls from people masquerading as Internal Revenue Service agents. Scam artists tell consumers that they owe back taxes and threaten to have them arrested if they don’t provide immediate payment.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently released a renewed warning about the scam, which customers throughout the State have reported is on the rise once again.

“If you receive an unexpected call from someone who claims to be with the IRS, hang up!” his recent statement read. “The IRS never makes unsolicited threatening phone calls.”

Additionally, he reminded taxpayers that the IRS will never ask anyone to send money via wire or a prepaid credit card.

The only direct-contact number for the Internal Revenue Service for taxpayers who think they might owe back taxes is (800) 829-1040. Customers may also contact the IRS online at www.irs.gov.

Some scammers use letters or emails that appear official, however, legitimate communications from the IRS will come in a form letter and typically do not demand sensitive personal information.  Scam communications may include typos or other mistakes that can be a warning sign. When in doubt of a letter’s authenticity, call the IRS to find out if the letter is legitimate.

While the IRS has announced partnerships with some private debt collectors, these businesses will not operate in the same manner as a scammer, and are generally willing to identify themselves without asking for sensitive personal information. According to the IRS, those collectors will never initiate contact via email, text or social media. Any such contact, the department warns, is a scam.

“I’ve received a call like that,” said one local resident who recently reported being targeted by the tax scam. “And even though I know good and well that I don’t owe on my taxes, it was still scary, so I can’t imagine what it might be like for someone else that might not be sure if their taxes are current.”

Report any suspicious activity to the Lockhart Police Department or the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.

 

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