The Hardin County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a scam involving people representing themselves as the Publisher’s Clearing House. Several local residents have reported calls informing them that they have won a big cash prize and a new Mercedes Benz automobile. The caller then instructs them to purchase a cash card or Western Union a “processing fee”. Some of the residents have actually followed the instructions and forwarded money to the scammers. Most of these scams are initiated from foreign countries and through electronic transfers. It is highly unlikely that any of the money will ever be recovered. The best way to avoid having money taken in one of these scams is to not send money to anyone you do not personally know. Any legitimate lottery or sweepstakes will not ask for any type of fee or tax. If anyone calls asking for money, hang up on them and do not answer if they call again.

Publishers Clearing House also posts the following WARNING: Please be aware that there are scammers out their claiming they represent Publishers Clearing House. Unfortunately, these scams are especially prevalent right now – when the real PCH is about to award a Super Prize. As much as we try to warn unsuspecting individuals about the difference between the real Publishers Clearing House Sweeps and an illegitimate scam, we too often learn about good, honest folks going through some unfortunate experiences. The sheriff’s office has also had other reports of scammers claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS will not contact anyone by phone for owed taxes. Never give personal information to anyone over the phone.

Sheriff Fricker warns the public of fake IRS collector scam Sheriff J.T. Fricker reported to the Independent that callers claiming to be the IRS and another claiming to be a bill collector have scammed a few people in Hardin County in the past and recently. The sheriff submitted the following article to help the public understand when they are being scammed.

Fake IRS collectors are calling

BY LISA LAKE Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

This time of year is often taxing for many consumers. Scams aimed at stealing taxpayers’ money make the season more stressful. The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) warns that crooks posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials are contacting people claiming they owe taxes. The caller demands a prepaid debit card, wire transfer or a credit card number for payment. If the person doesn’t comply the caller threatens to arrest or deport the target, or take away their driver’s license or business. Thousands of victims have lost money to these tax scam artists. But there are ways to recognize them and foil their attempts to steal your money. These scammers often: * call you. But when the IRS contacts people about unpaid taxes, they do it by postal mail, not by phone. * use common names and fake IRS badge numbers * know the last four digits of your Social Security number * demand payment via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS doesn’t ask for either of theses payment methods, nor will they ask for credit card numbers. * rig caller ID information to appear as if they IRS really is calling * send fake emails that look like legitimate IRS correspondence * make a second call claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, rigging the caller ID information To protect yourself from impostors who call, claiming to be from the IRS: * don’t provide any account or other personal information. Hang up the phone. * never wire money to a person or company you don’t know. Once you wire money, you can’t get it back. * if you owe – or think you owe- federal taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions. You also can visit the IRS website at irs.gov. * if you’ve already paid your taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484. * forward emails form the IRS to phishing@irs.gov. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails. * file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Include “IRS Telephone Scam” in your complaint.