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Telephone Scammers Use IRS as a Lure

TaxAlerts Tax Article

November 2013 | Written by: Karen Reed, EA

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On Halloween, the IRS issued a news release warning taxpayers throughout the country about a scary new telephone scam. Victims of the scam are receiving telephone calls that appear to be from the IRS, with an IRS toll-free number appearing on their caller IDs and the caller providing a fake name and IRS badge number. Perpetrators are sometimes able to recite the last four digits of the victim’s social security number, and some calls are “supported” by bogus IRS emails.

Victims of the scam are told they owe money that must be paid immediately by pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Those who do not cooperate are threatened with arrest, deportation, and loss of business or driver’s licenses. After being threatened with jail time or driver’s license revocation, some victims have received subsequent calls from scammers purporting to be from the local police or department of motor vehicles.

The news release states that the IRS does not ask for credit card numbers over the telephone, nor does the agency make calls to request payments by pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. In addition, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information or ask for PINs, passwords or other confidential information for accessing credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients of fake IRS emails should NOT open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message, but instead should forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.

If you have been a victim of this or any other IRS scam, the IRS advises you to use the FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov and add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint. You should also report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.