LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas: Even though tax season ended months ago, scammers still claim victims owe money to the government and must pay up immediately or will suffer serious consequences. Better Business Bureau Serving Arkansas is warning consumers to keep their guard up.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a strong warning on its website about a nationwide increase in the prevalence of “sophisticated and aggressive” telephone scams.
Victims may be told that they are entitled to substantial refunds or that they owe money to the IRS, and must pay immediately. The aim of the criminals is to get their victims to divulge personal information, or send money by an unsecured payment method.
In one case, a consumer reported being threatened to be thrown in jail if they did not return calls. In another case, a consumer was given the same ultimatum if they failed to respond to a pending lawsuit against them.
BBB offers the following reminders to safeguard yourself from such predatory tactics:
- The IRS always starts with U.S. Mail. If a caller claiming to be an IRS agent notifies you of an outstanding tax debt, but you haven’t received official notification from the IRS through the United States Postal Service, call their bluff. The IRS always starts by sending taxpayers written notification of any tax due via U.S. Mail.
- The IRS won’t ask on the phone. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone, so a request from a caller should raise a red flag.
- Scammers can be convincing. It’s not unusual for scammers to be able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security Number or your address. Be vigilant and remain aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with consumers over the telephone or via email.
- Look out for “spoofing.” Part of scammers’ sophisticated tactics include “spoofing,” which happens when the caller masks their own number and causes the number of a well-known service, like the IRS, to appear on caller ID.
- Don’t be bullied. Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to bully their targets into doing what they want. Scams prey on your emotions, so don't let fear get the best of you. Hang up the phone if a scammer gets hostile with you.
- Keep your PIN. Another piece of information the IRS will never ask for is a PIN, password or similar confidential access information for credit cards or bank accounts. If a caller asks, don’t give it out.
- Call the authorities. If you’re solicited by someone suspicious claiming to be from the IRS, contact law enforcement immediately, then report it to your BBB to help other consumers stay safe as well.