Date: 04/27/2014 Beware Scammers Posing as the IRS
Featured in Wall Street Journal by Tom Herman
Watch out for con artists posing over the phone as representatives of the Internal Revenue Service. It’s an old idea, but Treasury and IRS officials say thousands of people have fallen for increasingly sophisticated phone scams designed to steal money or identities.
“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, said last month.
The IRS recently issued a fresh warning, saying the scams may come in various forms. In recent months people have reported “a particularly aggressive phone scam,” the IRS said. Targets often include immigrants. “Potential victims are threatened with deportation, arrest, having their utilities shut off, or having their driver’s licenses revoked,” the IRS said.
In some cases, callers tell victims they are “entitled to big refunds, or that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS,” the IRS said.
What to do? Keep in mind that the IRS says it “will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U. S. mail.” The IRS “never asks for credit card, debit-card or prepaid-card information over the telephone.” (For more details, go to irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.)
If you get such a call, just hang up – and consider the following advise from the IRS:
- Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 if you know you owe taxes, or think you might owe taxes, or think you might.
- If you are sure you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think you might, report suspicious calls to the Treasury inspector general for tax administration at 800-366-4484.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) and use its “FTC Complaint Assistant” on that site. “Please add ‘IRS Telephone Scam’ to the comments of your complaint,” the IRS Says.