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Be on Alert

For IRS Phone Scams

Post Date:07/29/2018

I.R.S. Scams

Phone Scam Alert! The I.R.S. Treasury is NOT going to call you.

Thieves have it better than ever. No longer do they need risk personal injury robbing people face-to-face. Muggers can now make their money sitting in their comfort of their home, making phone calls and hacking computers.

Case in point; our own Mike Miller received a call this morning from "US Treasury Agent John Smith, federal ID number 1007." Yes, John Smith”. Nobody said these digital era criminals were smart or creative.

"Agent" Smith proceeded to tell Mike the I.R.S. had sent him two letters and that he owes a balance of $5,748.95 from tax year 2012. Agent Smith asked Mike if he self-prepared his tax return or used a CPA firm. Mike replied that he used a CPA and that he'd go ahead and contact them today.

At this point in the conversation, Agent Smith went on to accuse the CPA of fraud and suggested Mr. Miller shouldn't call them as they wouldn’t be of any use in this matter, but he would be able to resolve it for me.

I must have seemed skeptical at this point because he threatened me with arrest if I disconnected the call, so I hung up anyway," said Mike. Shortly after the hang-up, Agent David Williams (federal ID number 11498) called back to let Mike know the 'local authorities would be dispatched to take him into custody for being both tax delinquent and uncooperative.'

Mike's response was brilliant: "You have my address. Please send them now. I’ll be here waiting." Agent Williams hung up.

Both agents spoke with a heavy accent, possibly of Indian or southeast Asian origin. Mike proceeded to report the scam using the Treasury Inspector General’s website. 

Phone scammers pretend to be the Treasury Department

Scammers Falsely Purporting to be Calling from the Treasury Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations; the Treasury Office of Legal Affairs or emailing from the Office of the Secretary of The Treasury:  Scammers call an individual asserting that the individual has been awarded a grant or a similar sum of money and request personal information or a sum of money to “release” the funds.   The Treasury does not have such a program.   Likewise, e-mails promising a sum of money and purporting to be from the Treasury Secretary or his staff are false.  We urge recipients of such calls or e-mails to be extremely wary of any scheme requiring an advance payment for a later promise of funds, these are hallmarks of scams.  A similar scam is a caller falsely representing that he is from the Internal Revenue Service or impersonating an investigator from this Office and demanding payment or information.  These callers have been described as threatening or abusive, and tell victims they need to make immediate payment to forestall arrest.  THESE ARE FRAUDS.  PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION IN YOUR DEALINGS WITH ANYONE PURPORTING TO BE FROM A GOVERNMENT AGENCY AND DEMANDING MONEY OR INFORMATION.  Further information concerning one type of these frauds is available at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Repeats-Warning-about-Phone-Scams.

The I.R.S. will never:

•Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the I.R.S. call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a notice.

•Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

•Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

•Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

•Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration continue to hear from taxpayers who have received unsolicited calls from individuals demanding payment while fraudulently claiming to be from the I.R.S.

Based on the 90,000 complaints that TIGTA has received through its telephone hotline, to date, TIGTA has identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams. 

"There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation,” said I.R.S. Commissioner John Koskinen. “Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the I.R.S. will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the I.R.S. and urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate. People should hang up immediately and contact TIGTA or the IRS.”

Additionally, it is important for taxpayers to know that the I.R.S.:

•Never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

•Never insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations

•Never requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies.

Potential phone scam victims may be told that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the I.R.S. or they are entitled to big refunds. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.

Other Characteristics of These Scams Include:

•Scammers use fake names and I.R.S. badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.

•Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.

•Scammers spoof the I.R.S. toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the I.R.S. calling.

•Scammers sometimes send bogus I.R.S. emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.

•Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.

•After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the I.R.S., here’s what you should do:

•If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the I.R.S. at 1.800.829.1040. The I.R.S. employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an 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 call and report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484.

•You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the I.R.S., include the words “I.R.S. Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the I.R.S.

The I.R.S. encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the I.R.S. as a lure. The I.R.S. does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The I.R.S. also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov.

For more information or to report a scam, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box.

More information on how to report phishing scams involving the I.R.S. is available on the genuine I.R.S. website, IRS.gov.