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US Dept of Treasury Warns of Suspicious Calls & Tax Scams

Published February 9, 2016

With tax preparation season upon us, the Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers of an aggressive and sophisticated scam being perpetrated by con artists posing as IRS agents.

Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), said that since October 2013, there had been nearly 900,000 scam calls reported, and roughly $26.5 million was lost by about 5,000 victims.

The scammers typically call on the telephone and make aggressive threats, saying that the victims owe back taxes and must pay immediately by wire transfer or pre-loaded debit card, or law enforcement officers will come to their residence to take them away in handcuffs. The IRS warns that these scammers can sound convincing when they call, reciting fake IRS badge numbers and seeming to know a lot of information about the person they are targeting.

In another type of scam, callers may claim that the victim is owed a refund, and then try to get the victim to give the scammer personal information such as their Social Security number or bank account numbers. Professional tax preparers have also been targeted by an email scam, where a fake email, purporting to be from the IRS, states that the tax preparer’s Electronic Filing Identification Number needs to be renewed. The emails directs the recipient to a fake website designed to capture usernames and passwords.

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Regarding the telephone scams, the IRS wants consumers to know that there are several things the IRS never does. The IRS will never:

  1. Call to demand immediate payment, or call at all without first having sent a bill.
  2. Demand immediate payment without the taxpayer being allowed to appeal the amount owed.
  3. Require a specific payment method, such as a wire transfer or prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to send police to your home.

If a caller does any of these things, it is a scammer, not the IRS. You should report the incident to the TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.

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