Mail scams start showing up in Farmville, region

Published 1:02 am Wednesday, January 25, 2023

FARMVILLE – The letters arrive in the mailbox, showing up as “Priority 3 Day” mail. Inside the package, you’ll find two things. First, a check for $2,450. Second, there’s a letter claiming to be from Kroger, which tells you to deposit the check and start your career as a Secret Shopper. The letter claims you took a survey of some kind and qualified for this assignment. It then orders you to start buying gift cards, using the previously mentioned money in the check. The problem is it’s one of several mail scams in this region.  

Residents in Farmville, Prince Edward County and Charlotte County have already reported finding these packages in their mail. Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again, when we encounter a number of scams showing up in the mail or in other ways.

Residents in Farmville and Lunenburg County have also reported running into a different type of con, this time claiming to involve the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Instead of the usual phone call or email, folks are notified that they’ve received a high-priority package of a tax return check in the mail. 

In both cases, the checks involved are fraudulent and should not be cashed as these scammers are trying to gain private banking information. 

What are the signs of mail scams?

“There are several things people can do to keep their information safe,” said Sam Bowles. He serves as public information and special projects officer for the Farmville Police Department. 

Folks should be diligent in double-checking any mail, phone call or email they received from the IRS, Bowles said. The IRS encourages citizens to never give personal information or click possibly unsafe links. 

The same goes for any surprise checks you receive in the mail. Always call the company referenced, to make sure this is legitimate. Nine times out of 10, it won’t be. Companies don’t send out thousands of dollars in the mail in surprise checks, claiming to be for a secret shopper or any other program.

Many of these emails claim to be from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), which is a volunteer board that advises the IRS on issues affecting taxpayers. TAP does not have access to nor ever request any taxpayer’s personal and financial information.

Many times, the mail scams do not reflect the normal actions of the IRS. The IRS will never demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. 

They will also never threaten to immediately involve law enforcement or demand payment without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed. They also never call unexpectedly about a tax refund and generally send a notice in the mail before calling. 

What to do if a scam happens?

Citizens that receive these calls, e-mails, or any unexpected tax refund check should report these scams immediately. Citizens can report fake phone numbers to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484. Citizens can also email the number or forward the fake email to  phishing@irs.gov. 

“Beyond these methods, if a citizen is ever in doubt or concerned, they can call their respective law enforcement agency for their jurisdiction for any questions or concerns,” said Bowles. 

Citizens can visit irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts to learn more about what to do and what to look for regarding these scams.