Thousands of people have fallen victim to the scam, in which con artists make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials.
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, in a press release.
Federal officials said callers purporting 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.
In fact, the IRS usually contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid
taxes. Agents won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid card or wire transfer. They will not ask for credit card information over the telephone. The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, texting or any social media.
According to the Inspector General, the callers who commit this fraud often:
- Use common names and fake 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, department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.
- If you indeed 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 Inspector General George’s office at 800-366-4484.
- Anyone receiving calls or e-mails of this nature can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 222.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
- Forward suspicious e-mails to email@example.com. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails.