A sophisticated telephone scam from individuals claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service has cost taxpayers more than $1 million collectively, according to federal government officials. The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) has received reports of more than 20,000 contacts from nearly every state in the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must use a prepaid debit card or wire transfer to make a payment. They threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license. George says the threats are a sign that the caller is not an IRS representative. He adds IRS contacts people by mail about unpaid taxes and will not ask for payment via prepaid debit card or wire transfer. IRS officials also will not ask for a credit card number over the telephone. If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:
• If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
• If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
• You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
TIGTA and the IRS also encourage taxpayers to be alert for phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, texting or any social media. You should forward scam e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes winner) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
Read more about tax scams on the genuine IRS website at www.irs.gov.