IRS phone scam targets students at Iowa State

Zach Clemens

Fraud callers claiming to be part of the IRS and demanding payments are targeting ISU students and Ames residents.

“We are receiving daily calls about this issue,” said Cmdr. Jason Tuttle of the Ames Police Department.

Tuttle said many of these fraud callers are targeting the international student and elderly population of Ames. The usual scam is the caller will say there are back taxes owed or fees required, and they want people’s names and social security numbers.

The IRS scam usually comes up around this time of year, tax time, said Andrew Albinger, interim director of security operations for IT Services at Iowa State. He had first heard about this particular scam more than six years ago.

“This isn’t something new, but it is effective,” Albinger siad. “People give out more information than they should, so it keeps happening.”

The scammer, usually out of the country, finds out some information about an individual, like a name or birthday, and uses it to deceive the individual into giving up more information.

Albinger said scammers could get information off the IRS website to make them sound official and create a fear that the call is valid. He said the important thing to remember is that the IRS will never call and harass students.

“They’re never going to call and ask for your information,” Albinger said.

The IRS will send registered mail, and will never ask for money over the phone. An easy way to tell is to ask the caller to send registered mail showing the debt.

Tuttle and Albinger both said that if students are suspicious of a call and wondering if it is legitimate, just hang up. The IRS will show proof of a debt owned and will definitely call back.

It is important to be on guard about fraudulent calls and to never send money to an untrusted source, as it is almost impossible to recover that money, Tuttle said.

Victim of a scam should first call the police, Tuttle said.

Students can also file a complaint online through the Federal Trade Commission’s website. The IRS also has a contact number on its website for fraud victims.