SCAM ALERT: IRS phone scam warning
Income tax filing season recently got underway. The U.S. Treasury Department reported that close to one million people were contacted by scammers. The callers, representing themselves to be from the IRS or other government agency demand money. These scammers can sound very convincing when they call. Don’t be surprised to see that your caller ID has been altered to look like the IRS is calling. In addition, the scammer may even know a lot about you. They also use fake names and phony IRS badge numbers. Potential victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the “target” refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
Another of their schemes is to tell you that you are due a refund, and they need your bank account number or other personal financial information.
These thieves are most brazen and if the call is unanswered, the scammer often leaves an “urgent” callback request.
Federal authorities say these people are ruthless, and estimate that at least 10,000 Americans are being called weekly. The Treasury Department says that in a little over two years, at least 5,000 victims have paid out more than $26.5 million dollars.
Again, according to the IRS, below are five signs of a scam. The IRS does not:
-Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will NOT call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.
-Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
-Require you to use a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
-Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
-Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
Here’s what to do if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money:
-If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to talk about payment options. You also may be able to set up a payment plan online at IRS.gov.
-If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
-If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the scam. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
Remember, the IRS currently does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issues. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.
In addition to the above, keep in mind that some scammers will do whatever they can to “hook” their prey. They will copy official IRS letterhead to use in email or regular mail they send to victims. In another new variation, schemers provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make, all in an attempt to make the scheme look official.
If you have any doubt at all, contact the IRS. DO NOT use the telephone number, website or address listed on the questionable document or its call-back phone number. Look up the correct number in a resource you know to be valid.