Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

May 21, 2014

Fred Goldenberg: IRS warns of new telephone scam

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a warning to consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers -- including immigrants -- throughout the country.

Victims are told that after a quick check of their 2013 return, it was found they made an error and they owe money to the IRS which must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer to avoid an audit. 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.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” say IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.”

Werfel noted the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.

The IRS says the scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers, common names and surnames to identify themselves, are often able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security number and can “spoof” the IRS toll-free number and have it come up on your caller ID. They often send bogus IRS email to some victims to support the bogus call and have background noise like in an IRS office with other calls being made. After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and another calls back pretending to be from local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

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