If you get a call saying that you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service, don’t let it fool you. Officials say this particular scam is on the rise in Hawaii.
“My husband was like who’s that? Who’s that? And I said the IRS, they’re suing us,” said Honolulu resident Debra Kay.
“No one likes to get a call from the IRS and it is worse when they are telling you that you owe money,” said Capt. John McCarthy with HPD’s Criminal Investigation Division.
But these calls are not from the IRS. It is a scam and it is happening more and more in Hawaii.
Kay got three calls in one day.
“I asked them, Why are you calling me at three in the morning?” she said. “We call you on our time, they said, and I said, you want money from me and you are going to call me at this time? All you are going to get is a raging mad person.”
From phone calls to a voicemail, the calls vary in type.
“It can be a robo call that disguises the voice of the caller or it can be a direct person asking you questions,” said McCarthy.
All the calls have one thing in common: They want something, either money or personal information.
“The key here is don’t be free with your money and don’t be free with your information don’t give information out,” said McCarthy.
“While the IRS does have the power to levy taxes against people and collect it from people, they don’t do it by cold-calling people and threatening them with prison,” said Tom Simon with the FBI. “The people who are doing this are con men committing federal crimes and if we could find them, we would put them in prison right now.”
Finding these people can be hard. In many cases, they are calling from other countries.
They also use programs that can change a number to make it look like police or other agencies are calling.
“I got a call a few months ago from a guy claiming he was from the police department CID and he had a warrant for my arrest. Well luckily I am the captain there, so I think I would have known about it,” said McCarthy.
While anyone can fall victim to these scams, officials say there is one group more at risk than others.
“Our elder population is vulnerable and it is growing so they are the direct targets of a lot of scams there are scams that target them directly,” said McCarthy.
So if you get a call know this: “The IRS or law enforcement just don’t operate in this manner, so you just have to be careful. You have to question everything nowadays. You can’t take anything for granted,” said McCarthy.