News : IRS Warns of Telephone Scam
Nov 4, 2013 -- The IRS is warning consumers about a nationwide telephone scam in which people are told they owe money to the taxing agency and are threatened.
This is how it works, according to IRS spokesman David D. Stewart: Consumers are told they owe money to the IRS, and it must be promptly paid through a preloaded debit card or a wire transfer. If they object, they’re threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the callers are hostile and insulting, Stewart said.
"If anyone gets a call from (someone saying they’re from) the IRS, please hang up the phone and call your local office to see if, in fact, there is an issue with your account. This the best way to handle these, as in most cases you would first hear from us in the form of a letter delivered by the USPS (United States Postal Service)," Stewart said.
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email or request personal or financial information, the spokesman said. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also doesn’t ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
"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 prepaid debit card or wire transfer," said acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel. "If someone calls and claims to be from the IRS and threatens arrest, deportation, license revocation or if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling."
Other characteristics of the scam:
- The scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- They may be able to recite the last four digits of a consumer’s Social Security number that they’ve obtained fraudulently.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS that is calling.
- They sometimes send bogus emails (that look real) to support their phony telephone calls.
- Consumers may hear the sound of other calls being conducted in the background to mimic a call center.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, the scammer hangs up and another one calls soon after that, pretending to be a police officer or motor vehicle staff — with spoofed caller ID that supports their claim.
- If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or think you may owe them, call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think you owe them and have never received a bill about overdue or unpaid taxes, call the Treasury inspector general for tax administration at 800-366-4484.
- If you’ve been targeted by this scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov and use its "FTC Complaint Assistant" feature.
If you receive an email that you believe is from a scammer, never open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Internal Revenue Service:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the United States federal government agency that collects taxes and enforces the internal revenue laws. It is an agency within the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is responsible for interpretation and application of Federal tax law.
Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2013