By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item
Be on the alert for threatening calls reportedly from Internal Revenue Service agents demanding immediate payment of taxes.
They aren’t IRS agents.
They are con artists.
The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration has issued a warning on its website to taxpayers to beware phone calls from people claiming to represent the IRS in an effort to defraud them.
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said inspector general J. Russell George, adding that the administration has received reports of more than 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid more than $1 million as a result of the scam.
“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” he said. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals,” George said, adding that the scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state.
According to the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration website (www.treasury.gov/tigta/press/press_tigta-2014-03.htm), the scam works like this: Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.
These IRS impersonators generally:
n Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
n Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.
n Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
n Send bogus IRS emails to support their scam.
n Call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.
The IRS does not request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. Read more about tax scams at www.irs.gov.
you need to know ...
The IRS usually first contacts people by mail — not by phone — about unpaid taxes.
The IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
The IRS also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
If you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, check with the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration at (800) 366-4484 or the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov.