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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Threatening Telemarketing Calls Targeting Local Consumers and Businesses
August 06, 2014

scam callContact:Sue A. McConnell

(216) 623-8960

sue@cleveland.bbb.org

For Immediate Release - August 6, 2014 - Calls to BBB indicate that phony IRS agents and bogus utility bill collectors are at it again in our area.

Its NOT the IRS - Do not panic if you get a call or find a message on your voicemail from the IRS threatening to arrest you for tax fraud and tax evasion.  The call is part of a telemarketing scam aimed at getting  you to send payment in the form of a wire transfer or pre-loaded debit card.

A local consumer told BBB his voicemail was from “Melvin” who said he was calling from the Tax Audit Department of the IRS.  Melvin claimed he had received notification concerning tax evasion and tax fraud and that petitions were about to be filed at the courthouse.  The message also stated an arrest warrant was being issued and to call (202) 864-1329.  BBB called the number which was answered by someone with a heavy accent who claimed to be at IRS headquarters in Washington DC.  Other voices could be heard in the background.  Eerily, the consumer’s sister received a similar call on the same day. The person she spoke to referenced tax audits done on specific years and advised her to get an attorney. They did not ask for any sort of payment during the call, but instructed her to call another number. She called her accountant instead who assured her the call was a scam.

The IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.  

Report such calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.

Phony Utility Shutoff Calls - Another telemarketing scam targeting businesses has reappeared in recent days, also. Local businesses have reported receiving calls from individuals claiming to be from the electric company threatening shutoff if an unpaid balance is not resolved immediately.

A Westlake business received a call last Friday from Kenny Johnson. Johnson said he was calling from Ohio Edison about an unpaid bill.  The call came from (866) 978-7856.  The Westlake business owner reported he was targeted by the same scam last year.  The 866 number is mentioned online by others from various parts of the country who have received similar calls.

If you receive a call claiming to be from your utility company and feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill.