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“Largest ever” phone fraud scam targeting taxpayers

“Largest ever” phone fraud scam targeting taxpayers

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By Dan Boone, IRS.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) issued a warning to taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to defraud them.

“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. George 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.

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 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.

The callers who commit this fraud often:

• Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.

• Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.

• Make caller ID information 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 or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s 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 www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

Read more about tax scams on the genuine IRS website at www.irs.gov.