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Tax imposters, and door-to-door scams

As the tax filing deadline of April 18 approaches, the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York warns that tax and IRS scammers are making calls with the hopes of  trying to trick people into paying taxes they don’t owe.

Callers with the names Steve Martin, Ron Schneider, Kevin Mason, Vicki Thompson or Dennis Gray have been identified as calling homes or leaving messages in this scheme, and will likely say something like, “You will be arrested if you do not make restitution immediately. This is your last chance before going to jail,” the bureau said in a release.

Other messages might include, “Hello, official final notice from IRS. The IRS is ready to bring a lawsuit against you…”

The IRS is also warning people of a new twist on the scam: The imposters are calling people saying they have their tax returns, but they need to verify information (like a Social Security number or bank account number) before they can send it out.

Reminders from the IRS:  They will never call you. Don’t wire any money. Hang up and don’t call any phone numbers back. Don’t give out any personal information or banking information. If you get an e-mail, don’t reply. Forward any scam emails to phishing@irs.gov and delete them from your inbox.

The Better Business Bureau serving Vermont wishes to remind people that door-to-door salespeople are worth investigating.

Some may be trustworthy, working for legitimate businesses, but others are scammers. Con artists offering lawn care or discounted paving services can crop up at this time of year.

Among the advice offered by the BBB: Do your own research. If a person is selling lawn care or paving work, you can always say you are interested, but ask them to come back later. Then you can look them up online or check out www.bbb.org.

Beware of high-pressure sales tactics. If you feel uncomfortable on your own turf, whether because of an aggressive pitch or a sob story from a stranger, remember that they are on your property and you can ask them to leave.

Never pay upfront. If you’re paying for a service, make sure the work is being done to your satisfaction – before you pay. Make sure they can, and do, offer receipts for the work.

Get all promises in writing. If you decide to do business with a door-to-door salesperson, make sure to get total price, all services agreed upon, a start and end date,and a signed agreement. Ask to see terms and conditions of any business – legitimate ones will give you those in writing.

Lastly, look for licenses, or ask them to provide proof they are licensed. Many municipalities require solicitation licenses, so you can ask for that.