There are scams afoot, and the Internal Revenue Service is cautioning people not to fall for them.
The con artists usually call from a cloned number using a Washington D.C. area code, “202.” According to PIX11, most common number, at least for the month of August, appears to be 202.609.7070. CBS 6 reports that the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration has received something like 90,000 complaints and that the scam has claimed 1,100 victims, netting about $5 million.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen offered advice regarding the scam:
“There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation. Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail.”
Koskinen added that “A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate. People should hang up immediately and contact TIGTA or the IRS.”
The phone number to call if you believe you’ve been contacted by the scammers is 1.800.366.4484.
Arm Yourself With Information: How to Avoid Scams, 101
Know that the IRS will NEVER do any of the following:
- Ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone
- Insist that taxpayers use a specific payment method to pay tax obligations
- Request immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action involving IRS tax liens or levies
Some of the other features of these sorts of telephone scams include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to TIGTA at 1.800.366.4484.
- If you’ve been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
You can learn more by clicking here.