Your BBB has learned of a widespread tax scam. In a press release dated March 20, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned taxpayers about individuals calling and falsely claiming to represent the IRS “in an effort to defraud them.”
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” stated J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Over 20,000 taxpayers have reported being contacted, and thousands of victims have lost over $1 million so far. George went on to say, “The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming.” He also said that the scam has hit taxpayers in almost every state.
According to the press release, the scam works in this way. The perpetrators claim to be from the IRS and tell the victims that they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid money card or a wire transfer. When victims refuse to pay, they threaten them with arrest, deportation, loss of a business, or revocation of their driver’s license.
To help taxpayers recognize the scam, the IRS wants taxpayers to know that they:
*usually contact taxpayers by mail about unpaid taxes, not by phone;
*will not ask for payment using a pre-paid card or wire transfer;
*will not ask for a credit card number over the phone;
*will not threaten you if you do not pay immediately; and
*will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, texting, or any social media.
The fraudsters will generally:
*use common names and fake IRS badge numbers;
*know the victim’s last four digits of his/her Social Security Number;
*spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it seem like the call is coming from the IRS;
*send fake IRS e-mails to reinforce their scam; and
*call again pretending to be the police or someone from the BMV to frighten the victim into paying.
If you get one of these calls, the IRS advises
*if you think you owe, or might owe, Federal taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040;
*if you don’t owe taxes, call TIGTA at 800-366-4484 to report the call.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.