By Karin Schumacher, Staff Attorney, Elder Law & Advocacy
One of the more nefarious scams around is the IRS scam as it preys on citizens who fear getting behind on their taxes and incurring penalties and fines.
Callers claim to be IRS employees, but they are not. They use fake names and bogus IRS badge numbers and they may have information about their targets such as the last four digits of their Social Security Number, address and phone number. They alter the caller ID to make it look as if the IRS is calling. This is easily accomplished through voice calls over an Internet connection. These con artists could be calling from anywhere in the world, regardless of the area code victims see when they pick up the phone.
One way they attempt to scam the victim is to tell them that they are entitled to an IRS refund, but require the victim to reveal personal information that can be used to steal their money or gain access to their accounts. Another, more common and intimidating way is for the scammers to tell the victims that they owe the IRS money. The callers are often hostile and insulting, demanding that the victims pay immediately through a debit card or wire transfer. Those who ask questions are deemed uncooperative and threatened with arrest, deportation, loss of a driver’s license or business license. Sometimes fake IRS emails are sent to the victims to support the sham calls. After the callers threaten the victims, they hang up and others call back pretending to be from the police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim. Some scammers working San Diego County have had victims meet them at their bank to get the money.
The IRS will NOT:
1.Call to demand immediate payment; they would mail you a bill first.
2.Demand that you pay taxes without allowing you to question or appeal.
3.Ask you to pay an IRS debt by using a prepaid debit card.
4.Require credit card information over the phone.
5.Threaten to have you arrested.
If you are called from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money and you know or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. If you do not owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at (800) 366-4484 or at www.Tax-Scams- How to Report.