Northeast Times

IRS warns consumers about new phone scam

The In­tern­al Rev­en­ue Ser­vice is warn­ing con­sumers about a new and soph­ist­ic­ated phone scam that tar­gets tax­pay­ers, in­clud­ing re­cent im­mig­rants. 

Vic­tims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded deb­it card or wire trans­fer. Vic­tims who re­fuse to co­oper­ate are then threatened with ar­rest, de­port­a­tion or sus­pen­sion of a busi­ness or driver’s li­cense. In many cases, the caller be­comes hos­tile and in­sult­ing.

“This scam has hit tax­pay­ers in nearly every state in the coun­try. We want to edu­cate tax­pay­ers so they can help pro­tect them­selves. Rest as­sured, we do not and will not ask for cred­it card num­bers over the phone, nor re­quest a pre-paid deb­it card or wire trans­fer,” says IRS Act­ing Com­mis­sion­er Danny Wer­fel. “If someone un­ex­pec­tedly calls claim­ing to be from the IRS and threatens po­lice ar­rest, de­port­a­tion or li­cense re­voc­a­tion if you don’t pay im­me­di­ately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS call­ing.” 

Wer­fel noted that the first IRS con­tact with tax­pay­ers on a tax is­sue is likely to oc­cur via mail. 

Oth­er char­ac­ter­ist­ics of this con in­clude:

• Scam­mers use fake names and IRS badge num­bers. They gen­er­ally use com­mon names and sur­names to identi­fy them­selves.

• Scam­mers may be able to re­cite the last four di­gits of a vic­tim’s So­cial Se­cur­ity Num­ber.

• Scam­mers spoof the IRS toll-free num­ber on caller ID to make it ap­pear that it’s the IRS call­ing.

• Scam­mers some­times send bogus IRS emails to some vic­tims to sup­port their bogus calls.

• Vic­tims hear back­ground noise of oth­er calls be­ing con­duc­ted to mim­ic a call site.

• After threat­en­ing vic­tims with jail time or driver’s li­cense re­voc­a­tion, scam­mers hang up and oth­ers soon call back pre­tend­ing to be from the loc­al po­lice or DMV, and the caller ID sup­ports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claim­ing to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. The IRS em­ploy­ees at that line can help you with a pay­ment is­sue — if there really is such an is­sue.

If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reas­on to think that you owe any taxes, then re­port the in­cid­ent to the Treas­ury In­spect­or Gen­er­al for Tax Ad­min­is­tra­tion at 800-366-4484.

If you’ve been tar­geted by this scam, you should also con­tact the Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion and use its “FTC Com­plaint As­sist­ant” at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Tele­phone Scam” to the com­ments of your com­plaint.

The IRS does not ini­ti­ate con­tact with tax­pay­ers by email to re­quest per­son­al or fin­an­cial in­form­a­tion. This in­cludes any type of elec­tron­ic com­mu­nic­a­tion, such as text mes­sages and so­cial me­dia chan­nels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, pass­words or sim­il­ar con­fid­en­tial ac­cess in­form­a­tion for cred­it card, bank or oth­er fin­an­cial ac­counts. Re­cip­i­ents should not open any at­tach­ments or click on any links con­tained in the mes­sage. In­stead, for­ward the e-mail to phish­ing@irs.gov.

More in­form­a­tion is avail­able on the genu­ine IRS web­site at IRS.gov. ••

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