Each year, the IRS releases its list of “dirty dozen” tax scams to watch out for. Among the twelve are telephone scams. The IRS says it has noticed a spike in phone scams, where a caller will pretend to be an IRS representative so that he or she can engage in identity theft.
In some instances, the caller will tell an unsuspecting victim that he or she owes money or is entitled to a large refund. The fraudster sometimes even says the victim will be arrested or that his or her license will be revoked if there is no cooperation.
The IRS says to watch out for these red flags:
- 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” or imitate 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.
The IRS says in another variation, one phone scam targets recent immigrants, and they are told they owe money to the IRS and that it must be paid through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Uncooperative victims are often threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.
If you get a suspicious or threatening call from someone who claims you owe taxes, but you have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, the IRS recommends that you report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
In addition, reach out to the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov.