The Internal Revenue Service has again issued an urgent warning about telephone scams that continue to claim victims. The pattern seems to be that the thieves make unsolicited phone calls, claiming to be from the IRS and demanding immediate payment of taxes by credit card or wire transfer. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received 90,000 complaints about these scams. He estimates that thieves have stolen an estimated $5 million in these scams.
What the IRS wants you to know:
- The IRS will first contact you by mail if taxes are owed.
- The IRS never asks for credit or debit card information over the phone.
- The IRS never insists that you use a specific payment method to address the unpaid tax balance.
- The IRS never requests immediately payment over the telephone.
There are other telephone scams which have been perpetrated against taxpayers. Some are told that they are entitled to a large refund, and request personal information and data about the taxpayer. The scammers may know the last four digits of the Social Security number, or make the phone number appearing on a digital phone appear as if the call is originating from the IRS. Scammers have also threatened victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation. Some have called back pretending to be from the local police of DMV office.
Here in Orange County, California, some local Police Departments have felt it necessary to issue their own warnings about aggressive scammers calling businesses and residents–including warnings that scammers may also pretend to be from a utility company or a family member in distress.
What to do:
- If you owe taxes (or believe you do), the IRS recommends that you call them at 800-829-1040 to get accurate information from an IRS employee or arrange a payment plan if you do indeed owe taxes. It may be necessary to stay on the line until your call can be taken.
- If you know there are no taxes owed, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484, to report the fraudulent call.
The Bottom Line: beware and be knowledgeable.