IRS phone scam cost victims $5 million

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. –  Hello caller?  It’s not the IRS on the other end! The Internal Revenue Service is once again warning taxpayers about a phone scam where crooks pretend to be IRS employees collecting taxes.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has received 90,000 complaints about the scam through its hotline.  TIGTA also says the scam has cost more than 1,000 victims roughly $5 million.

“There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “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 says another red flag is that the calls are often threatening and angry.

The IRS says it will never:

  • 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 phone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation.

Other scam warning signs:

  • 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:

  • Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 if you think you owe taxes
  • If you don’t owe, contact TIGTA to report the scam at 1-800-366-4484
  • Victims can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission