Ahwatukee senior citizens are reporting a rash of phone calls from people claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS has a warning for them:
Don’t believe those callers for a second.
Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers, headlining the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2017 filing season, the agency recently announced.
During filing season, the IRS generally sees a surge in scam phone calls that threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other cons.
"Don't be fooled by surprise phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents with threats or promises of a big refund if you provide them with your private information," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "If you're surprised to get a call from the IRS, it almost certainly isn't the real IRS. We generally initially contact taxpayers by mail."
The Dirty Dozen is compiled annually by the IRS and lists a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. Many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports they have become aware of over 10,000 victims who have collectively paid over $54 million as a result of phone scams since October 2013.
"Everyone can share the word about scam phone calls: just hang up and don't engage these people," Koskinen said. “Despite recent successes against phone scam artists, these scams constantly evolve and people need to remain vigilant.”
Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card or gift card, like an iTunes card. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver’s license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS employee titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do:
· Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
· Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
· Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
· Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
For taxpayers who don’t owe taxes or don’t think they do, people should not give out any information, hang up immediately. They also are advised to call 800-366-4484.
For those who owe taxes or think they do, people should call the IRS at 800-829-1040.