March 21, 2014
Phone Scheme Has Netted IRS Impersonators At Least A Million Dollars
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said in a statement.
George said TIGTA received calls from over 20,000 individuals wanting to report the scam, which has cost thousands of victims money. Reports say that the scammers make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials, using common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
The IRS impersonators tell victims that they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number, and the caller ID even displays information to make it appear as if the IRS is calling.
Scammers threaten those victims who are wary of paying the scammers money. TIGTA said the impersonators tell them that if they don’t pay they will be arrested, deported or could lose their business. The callers also claim they could take away the victims' driver’s licenses. In order to support these threats, the scammers call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles with a caller ID that supports their claim.
“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” George said. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals.”
According to TIGTA, the IRS usually first contacts people by mail, not by phone, about unpaid taxes. Moreover, the IRS does not ask for pre-paid debit card or wire transfer payments, and will not ask for a credit card number over the phone.
“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” George said.
TIGTA recommends people who may get a phone call to hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040800-829-1040. If no taxes are owed, TIGTA is asking people to report the incident at 800-366-4484800-366-4484.