IRS.gov issued a warning about a recent, and sophisticated, telephone tax scam. According to the IRS website, victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license if they fail to cooperate. In some cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. “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,” says IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. While this scam has hit every state in the country, it has also hit Mountain View. We have a few reports where the victim was contacted by an individual stating they were calling from the IRS when, in fact, they were not. If it sounds suspicious, it probably is. Other characteristics of this scam 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 get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 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 the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 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.
Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS. Remember, if you are ever unsure about a phone call or contact from someone you don’t know STOP and ask questions. Check the original source to confirm what you’re being told. It may save you from losing a few dollars best spent elsewhere.
If you have fallen victim to this scam, please go to https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-3 to file a report, and have all your information ready, like the number from where the scammer called from (if available). Please give us a call at 650-903-6344 if you have any questions.