5 tips to protect against scam phone calls

Don’t be fooled by phone scam criminals posing as IRS officials to con victims out of money or personal information. The IRS continues to warn consumers against scam phone calls that rip off people in every state. The scammers are targeting more than the elderly, immigrants and those who speak English as a second language, as was their original trick.  Everyone is at risk at any time of the year.

Staying alert to scams can keep you from falling prey to criminals who use the IRS as a lure. The IRS has five tips:

  1. Beware of unsolicited calls. Scammers claiming to be IRS officials call taxpayers demanding the victim pay a bogus tax bill by sending cash through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. “Urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls” should be treated as suspicious.
  2. Don’t be bullied. Callers try to scare their victims with threats and intimidation, even going as far as to threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of the victim if they don’t get money.
  3. Scams use caller ID spoofing. Caller ID can be altered to make it look the like the IRS or another agency is calling. Callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers and use the victim’s name, address or other personal information to sound legitimate.
  4. Cons have new tricks up their sleeves. Some provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails with a fake IRS document. Official IRS letterhead is often used in emails or regular mail to victims.
  5. Protect your money. Scams have cost about 4,550 victims more than $23 million. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, reports of 736,000 scam contacts have been received since October 2013.

Remember, the IRS will not call you demanding immediate payment, call without first sending a bill in the mail or demand you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you own. Additionally, the IRS will not require you pay taxes in a certain way or ask for a credit or debit card number over the phone.

If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think you do, hang up immediately without giving out any information. Report the call on this web page or call 800.366.4484.

Last updated on 01/05/2016. 

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