The Sweetwater County Sheriff's Department is reporting a new scam using a supposed overdue electric bill as well as a recurrent tax scam that is once again being used in the state.

The electric bill scam features someone claiming to be with the power company calling people up and telling them their bill is overdue and must be paid immediately to avoid having the electricity shut off.

The intended victim is told they must make a payment using a credit or debit card, a prepaid card or a Moneygram. Sheriff's Department spokesman Dick Blust says the scammers are not only after the payment but are also hoping to get your credit or debit card information.

He says the best thing to do if you receive one of these calls is to simply hang up and call your power company directly to find out if you really owe money on a bill.

He says when you call your utility it's important that you call a number listed on your power bill or a company website. That's because the scammers will sometimes give you a phony number to call, featuring someone who is part of the scam once again pretending to represent the power company.

The other scam that is once again being widely reported is an old favorite of con-artists, the phony income tax scam.

This scam, which is among the most common of phone scams, features a supposed Internal Revenue Service agent calling people and demanding immediate payment of supposed delinquent federal income taxes. The tax scam is often made more believable by the use of a phony IRS badge number. In some cases, the caller may also know the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Con artists using this scam often become obnoxiously rude if questioned, threatening immediate arrest, the arrest of a spouse, the revocation of your driver's license or other dire consequences.

Sometimes the intended victim will receive follow-up calls from other supposed IRS agents containing further threats and demanding immediate payment.

Blust says the important thing to remember about this scam is the fact the IRS never makes the first contact with delinquent taxpayers using a phone call, but only by letter.

You can always find out whether you really owe back taxes by calling the IRS at 1-800-366-4484.

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