RICHMOND, Va. - The Internal Revenue Service is reporting a phone scam targeting taxpayers throughout the country. Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. Victims are threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license.
"The IRS will never call you and ask for payment of taxes due. They will not ask for your credit card numbers or request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer," says Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. "Hang up the phone if anyone calls claiming to be the IRS and threatens you with deportation, license revocation or police arrest."
Callers may use the following tactics in order to appear legitimate:
• Use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
• May be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security Number.
• Make the IRS toll-free number display on caller ID to make it appear that it's the IRS calling.
• Send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their calls.
• Create background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call center.
• After threatening victims with jail time or driver's license revocation, callers may hang up and have another individual call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV. Caller ID supports their claim.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts. Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BBB recommends the following steps if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS:
• Start With Trust. If you are not sure if the phone call or email from the IRS is legitimate, contact your Better Business Bureau at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501.
• If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
• If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes, then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.
• Contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant" at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.