Even though tax season is over, that has not stopped scammers from continuing to pose as IRS officials and making calls threatening jail, deportation and loss of property. Calls have been made to individuals across the country, including the state of Mississippi, claiming there is a problem with their tax return.
Callers to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Mississippi say they have been left voicemail messages stating they need to contact the IRS immediately, or they would face legal consequences. Other messages threatened arrest by U.S. Marshals for failure to pay the correct amount of taxes.
One consumer received a call and the caller claimed to be from the IRS and had most of her information. They informed her that the IRS had 3 criminal felony charges filed against her and if she didn't give them $7,450 by 4pm today they were going to have her arrested in front of her children, because she likes to steal from the federal government. When the victim asked them could she contact her tax person and call them back and they hung up.
“What we are seeing is an increase in ‘spoofed numbers’ on caller ID’s to hide where these scammers are calling from”, says John O’Hara CEO of BBB serving Mississippi. “It is a common practice of scammers to hide their real phone number from their intended victim and even use IRS’s legitimate ‘800’ customer service number.”
In addition to claiming to be from the IRS, other individuals say they have been called by people stating they were with the U.S. Treasury; although it is a different government agency, the scam remains the same.
According to the IRS, the agency never contacts taxpayers by phone asking for money. They also never contact taxpayers by e-mail. If there is an issue with the IRS that requires your response, the contact would be made by U.S. mail.
If you receive one of these scam phone calls, BBB recommends:
• Hang up — Don’t provide any information over the phone. Call the IRS directly using the phone number found on their website or in the phone book.
• Protect personal information — In response to an incoming call, never give out any personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name or any passwords and other identifying information.
• Contact the FCC — Let the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) know about ID spoofers by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC or file a complaint at www.fcc.gov/complaints.
• Contact the FTC — File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint. From the complaint homepage, select “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” In the notes, include “IRS Telephone Scam.”