‘Tis the Season to be Swindled

Several of my neighbors have recently received calls from individuals impersonating IRS agents. The callers claim that back taxes are owed and threaten arrest if immediate payment is not made on the phone.

The calls may seem legitimate because criminals involved in these schemes sometimes alter caller ID number to make it appear that the IRS or another government agency is calling. Additionally, they sometimes have access contact information such as the victims’ names and addresses, which makes the call sound official.

According to the IRS, 4,550 victims have been swindled out of $23 million since 2013 as a result of these scams.

The IRS has released an alert urging the public to guard against scam phone calls. It is important to know that the IRS will not:

  1. Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  2. Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  3. Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying

You should be wary of those who pressure you to make immediate decisions, request private information such as social security numbers, or demand cash or credit card payment up front. Personal information, such as names of family members, bank account information, and social security numbers should not be disclosed over the phone. If someone is requesting such information, hang up immediately.

If you have been victimized by a scam, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA at (800) 366-4484 or file a report on the TIGTA website. You can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant.

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