Sunday, March 30, 2014

TIGTA Warns of “Largest Ever” Phone Fraud Scam Targeting Taxpayers

TIGTA Warns of “Largest Ever” Phone Fraud Scam Targeting Taxpayers

The Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a press release last week warning tax payers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to defraud them.

J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration was quoted “This is the largest scam of its kind we have ever seen.” He went on to say, “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.”  

George also noted that TIGTA has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make  unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials. 

Inspector General George urged taxpayers to heed warnings about the sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, noting that the scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every State in the country.  “Do not become a victim,” he added. 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.

The truth is the IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. And the IRS won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS also won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone. Inspector George added, “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.” The callers who commit this type of fraud will often:
  • Use a common name and fake IRS badge numbers. 
  • Will know the last 4 digits of the victim’s social security number 
  • Make the caller ID appear as if the IRS is calling. 
  • Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam. 
  • Call a second time claiming to be the police department or department of motor vehicle, and the caller ID will support their claim.

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 TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at Add “IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.

TIGTA and the IRS encourage taxpayers to be alert for phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, texting or any social media. You should forward scam e-mails to Don’t open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails. If you would like to view the official press release from the Treasury Inspector General Click here.

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