Tax return season may be over for most everyone. The Jackson Township Police Department is still receiving several calls a month from local residents about an IRS refund scam.

Tax return season may be over for most everyone. The Jackson Township Police Department is still receiving several calls a month from local residents about an IRS refund scam.

Jackson Township Police Lt. J.J. Lenemier investigates area scams and said the department take about five reports a month on the IRS refund fraud and many other types of scams.

“We've taken a lot of calls this year about people trying to file their tax returns and the IRS informs them there has already been a return filed for that social security number and a refund check issued,” Lenemier said. “What that means is that someone has stolen their social security number and filed a fraudulent return. For those that find that to be the case, they need to file a police report and then work with the IRS so they can do an investigation.

CREDIT CARDS

Lenemier said the department also receives two or three calls a week about credit card theft or ID fraud. Lenemier said that victims call and say they still have the credit card in their possession but there are charges on it from around the state or outside of the state.

“The card number could have been stolen off of the Internet or some other method,” Lenemier said. “The victim has to file a police report and the credit card company will ask for a signed affidavit that the person did not make the charges and the company will more than likely forgive the charges.”

 When credit cards are stolen from vehicles, Lenemier said the person will see local charges on the card often for cigarettes or other items the thief can turn into cash on the streets. Lenemier said the thief knows he or she has a limited amount of time to use the card before it gets reported stolen and gets turned off.

“This type of credit card theft gets turned into a couple of hundred dollars in cash by the thief,” Lenemier said. “Often times, the cash or the items are used to buy drugs.”

He recommends that consumers pay the fee for credit card protection. These services will watch your credit card purchases and report when something doesn't seem proper.

FRAUDULENT WEBSITES

Other scams Lenemier said residents should be aware of include fraudulent websites. Scammers will setup a website that looks just like major companies such as AT&T when, in fact, the sites are meant to steal consumer's information such as address, social security number and other details.

Lenemier warns that these type of scammers will also have phone numbers that will come up on caller ID as the company name. He suggests looking up the phone number in a phone book or looking on a paper bill to see if the phone number used on a website is the actual phone number before providing any personal or business information to the site.

“We had a case where a person had trouble with their phone and looked up AT&T on the Internet,” Lenemier said. “They clicked on the first site that came up in the search and it looked like AT&T. When this person called the number listed on the site, the person on the other end started asking about personal information and asked to access their computer. The consumer got frustrated with the person and hung up.”

He warns that it is vitally important to confirm who you are talking to on the phone or communicating with over the Internet and through email before giving out any personal data.

HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAMS

One of the scams that continues to happen throughout the spring and summer include home improvement scams. People who claim to be home improvement professionals will stop by someone's house and tell them they can fix something on their home. Lenemier said the elderly are especially at risk for this scam.

The scammer will say they can fix a porch or repair the roof for a certain amount of money. The homeowner will pay the money upfront and then the scammer never does the work or does the work with low cost materials or does substandard work.

“Sometimes, the scammer will stop by and say they noticed the homeowner's roof needs repair,” Lenemier said. “Then they offer to do a free plumbing inspection. The elderly homeowner will let them in the house to look.  They inflate the amount of work that needs done and convinces the homeowner pay for the work.”



OTHER SCAMS

Another scam that the elderly need to be aware of is when someone calls and says they are from a police department somewhere outside of the area telling them they have arrested a family member such as a grandchild. They ask the person to send bail money so that the family member doesn't have to tell the parents.

“Grandparents always want to help their grandchildren in any way they can, so they send the money when in fact their grandchild has not been arrested and is not in need of bail money,” Lenemier said.

Lenemier warns that everyone should keep their doors locked especially when doing outside work. He said people forget to close their garage doors at night which also creates an opportunity for someone to steal items from the garage or the cars parked inside.

“People will go out the back door and leave it unlocked or leave the door open with a screen door. Then they will forget about leaving the door open and go out in front of the house to do some work or talk with a neighbor. Someone will come along and go in the open back door and steal items from the house such as purse and leave before the homeowner realizes what's happening,” Lenemier said.

Local residents can see a list of the latest scams by visiting The Ohio Attorney General's website, http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Tipster.aspx. Lenemier said residents who have any questions about something that just doesn't seem right can also call the station at 330-832-1553 for more information.