As noted in previous articles, spring has most definitely arrived. The gardens are getting into full swing, and the land is green and lush. And soggy. Part of my lawn looks like a swamp. The rains are upon us, and I know we need them, but it is difficult, especially since I own a big white dog, Willoughby, the Great Pyrenees. White dogs and mud don’t work well together. There seems to be an unknown magnetic force that draws them to each other, and the results are not pretty. But that’s another story.
The tri-state community is continuing to be showered, or maybe more accurately, “hammered” with the phony IRS scam calls. Our Consumer Task Force, which consists of representatives from local, state and regional government and law enforcement agencies, recently met and this scam is still at the top in all of our offices.
The BBB has sent out numerous alerts as have the other agencies, but we continue to receive calls from unsuspecting folks that have been targeted by this scam in which criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information.
The IRS continues to post alerts stating that they are not affiliated with these scams which often have various twists.
These calls are aggressive and threatening and may include warnings of police arrest, lawsuit, deportation and license revocation. Other schemes may state that you are entitled to a huge refund. They may alter the caller ID numbers to make it look like you are receiving a call from the IRS or another government agency. They sometimes use IRS titles and fake badge numbers.
The caller usually demands that you pay a phony tax bill and will try to con you into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Or they may leave urgent callback requests through phone “robocalls,” which is an automated telephone call that delivers a recorded message.
Please be aware that the IRS will NEVER call you to demand an immediate payment and will not call you without first sending a bill through the mail. They will not demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount that you owe. They do not require that you pay your taxes in a certain way (e.g., a prepaid debit card). They will not ask for your credit card or debit card numbers over the phone nor will they threaten to bring in the police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
The best thing to do when receiving one of these calls, is to simply hang up the phone. If you think that you DO owe taxes, you may call the IRS at 800-829-1040. To report the scam, you may contact the following agencies:
*The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration – use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting Web Page or call 800-366-4484
*The BBB – call 812-473-0202 or go to www.bbb.org/scamtracker
*The Federal Trade Commission – use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov. Be sure to add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
With your help, we hope to put an end to this ongoing issue. For more information, contact us at 812-473-0202 or www.bbb.org/evansville.
This article was written for and appeared in the Evansville Courier & Press, Business Section, on May 15, 2016.