IRS Warns of ‘Sophisticated’ Phone Scam

Tax Form 1040The Taxman Cometh with a warning about a new telephone scam that the IRS says is more sophisticated than the traditional trickery that aims to collect your personal information.

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This time, crooks posing as IRS agents seem to know some of it already:somehow, they’re able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security number.

To suggest further authenticity for their phony phone calls, made to residents in nearly every state, reports the agency, the scammers also spoof an IRS toll-free phone number on your Caller ID,  give IRS badge numbers, and  follow up their calls with emails purporting to be from the agency.

The goal, of course, is a quick pay-off. These scammers claim you owe back taxes that must be immediately paid via a wire transfer or pre-loaded debit card such as a Green Dot MoneyPak.

If you refuse to cooperate, you’re threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. The scammers may become hostile, and then hang up – and another person quickly calls back claiming to be from the local police or Department of Motor Vehicles office.

Don’t believe any of it.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” says IRS acting commissioner Danny Werfel.

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If you are telephoned from someone claiming to be from the IRS, now or in the future, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. Legitimate IRS employees can verify if there really is a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration  at 800-366-4484.
  • If targeted by this scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, adding “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.

Photo: Bradley Gordon/Flickr

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