Officials warn of scam calls claiming to be from IRS

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) has issued a warning to taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

There have been reports of some calls being received locally.

J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administrations ays 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 truth is 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.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” says George

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.