Two county residents called The Pocahontas Times office Tuesday morning to report they had received scam calls from individuals claiming to be IRS representatives. While one resident said the caller struggled to overcome a foreign accent, the other said their call was from a person who sounded “very professional.”
No matter how they sound, it is a scam – and one that has been around for years.
The Internal Revenue Service has published several articles warning taxpayers about this scam.
Here is what the IRS has to say:
IRS – Impersonation Telephone Scam
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.
If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Note that the IRS will never: 1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill; 2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe; 3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; 4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or 5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Despite efforts to educate the public about how the IRS does and does not conduct business, and despite the efforts of several other agencies, the scam is paying off, and not likely to end anytime soon.
According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, that office has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid more than $23 million to these scam artists.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, the best thing to do is immediately hang up. Do not give out any personal information.
You may report the call to the TIGTA by using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting website at www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml or by calling 800-366-4484.
The TIGTA offers the following warning to tax preparers:
Tax Preparer Phishing Scam
A bogus email asks tax professionals to update their IRS e-services portal information and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs). The links that are provided in the bogus email to access IRS e-services appear to be a phishing scheme designed to capture your username and password. This email was not generated by the IRS e-services program. Disregard this email and do not click on the links provided.
For more information on this scam, see IR-2015-31, IRS Warns Tax Preparers to Watch out for New Phishing Scam; Don’t Click on Strange Emails or Links Seeking Updated Information.