The IRS fraud scam that has reportedly claimed 4,500 victims who have paid $23 million to the scammers.
If the IRS calls, it is most likely they are not.
This according to a new high alert issued by the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration about an insidious phone fraud scam that has reportedly claimed 4,500 victims who have paid $23 million to the scammers.
Since October 2013, the TIGTA has received more than 730,000 reports nationwide of taxpayers being contacted by individuals posing as IRS agents harassing them into paying taxes allegedly owned to the government. The callers threaten to contact the police and have the victims arrested if they do not pay immediately.
The TIGTA has two words of advice for people: Hang up. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you do not pay immediately, that is a sign that it is not the IRS calling, and your cue to hang up," TIGTA Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George said in a statement. “Do not engage with these callers. If they call you, hang up the telephone."
George calls the scam the largest of its kind the agency has seen yet. “The callers are aggressive, they are relentless and they are ruthless. Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash,” he warns.
Here is how they do it, according to the TIGTA:
•?The calls originate from an automated robocall machine.
•?They will identify themselves using common names and provide fake IRS badge numbers.
•?They may know the last four digits of your social security number.
•?Trick caller ID shows call as originating from IRS or local police.
• They will follow up with fake IRS emails; and return calls a second or third time claiming to be from the local police or department of motor vehicles.
In cases of delinquent tax payment, the IRS first contacts people by mail rather than by, and never requests payment using a prepaid debt card or wire transfer, the TIGTA emphasizes. The IRS also does not ask for a credit card number over the phone.
If you do, or think you might, owe federal taxes, the TIGTA advises individuals to call the IRS at
(800) 829-1040. To report being contacted by a scammer, contact the TIGTA (800-366-4484), the IRS or the Federal Trade Commission (877-382-4357).
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.