As tax season heats up, scammers continue to do serious damage — because many of the victims aren’t aware that the IRS will NEVER call anyone for money, police say.
The government also doesn’t email anyone for Social Security numbers, birth dates, bank account numbers, passwords or other personal identification.
“The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail,” the Internal Revenue Service has said in consumer alerts.
Yet police say citizens continue to be victimized by thieving callers claiming to be IRS officials demanding payment for a bogus tax bill.
Nationwide, nearly 4,550 victims have given away upwards of $23 million to scammers the past three years.
"They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill," Wayne Police Capt. Laurence Martin said. "They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave 'urgent' callback requests through phone 'robo-calls,' or via [online] phishing."
The callers threaten or bully their targets, the captain said. Sometime they threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money, he said.
Scammers often alter their caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling, Martin said. They used IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate, he said.
"They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official," the captain said.
Some are told their driver’s licenses and credit cards have been suspended or frozen.
They’re then told they can settle the problem by paying a certain amount and are directed to buy Green Dot money packs in various amounts — after which they give the caller the serial numbers of each card.
Some scammers provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply.
Some use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.What the I.R.S. DOESN’T do:
- Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice;
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe;
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card;
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone;
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Remember, too: The IRS doesn’t use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue.
If you get a call that purports to be from the I.R.S., police said, DO NOT disclose any information.
"Hang up immediately," Martin urged.You can report the call directly to the federal government by calling 1-800-366-4484 , the captain said. Or go to: “ IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting ."
IMPORTANT: If you think you owe the IRS money, or aren't sure, call and ask the agency directly (800-829-1040).