This article was last edited on Feb. 16, 2016. For updated information about keeping your information secure, read 5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Data Theft.
The IRS is warning the public about a phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.
Characteristics of this scam include:
· Scammers use fake names and IRS 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 IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
· Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS 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.
The truth is the IRS typically first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. And the IRS will not ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The agency also will not ask for a credit card number over the phone.
If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here is 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 the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
· You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
Be alert for phone and email scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. You should forward scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org . Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.