Largest Ever Phone Fraud From Fake IRS Agents

What are the three most terrifying letters known to U.S. citizens?  CIA?  FBI?  KGB? (Ok, that one is a stretch, but you see where I’m going with this.) Wrong, wrong, and wrong.  They’re I—R—S.  That’s right.  The Internal Revenue Service has all of the powers of the other three combined, with better pay and benefits, although decidedly less world travel.

Now, someone is using that terror to con Americans out of millions.  While lottery sweepstakes, Nigerian refugees in need of assistance, and grandsons calling from jail might entice you to give up your personal financial information, a call from a fraudulent IRS agent threatening tax levies, property seizures, or even jail time, seems to be doing the trick most effectively.  Who was it who said “Fear is the greatest motivator”?

People have been calling taxpayers, using fake names, false IRS badge numbers, and possessing taxpayer information (like the last 4 digits of the SSN), ostensibly to collect on taxes owed.  One of our own clients called us last week asking if they owed an amount supposedly disclosed to them by one of these scam artists.  To pay the amount owed, and avoid the penalties described above, taxpayers are being asked to remit using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.

Here are a few things to know:

  • ·         The IRS usually sends a notice by mail if there are taxes owed – they don’t initially make contact by phone.
  • ·         The IRS does not request payment be made using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.
  • ·         The IRS does not request credit card information over the phone.

Here’s what to do if you get one of these calls:

  • ·         If you owe taxes, discontinue the call then call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
  • ·         If you don’t owe taxes, discontinue the call then call the TIGTA (the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) at (800) 829-1040 and report the incident.
  • ·         In either case, DO NOT GIVE PAYMENT INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE.

Here’s a good article with more details. Fear may be a great motivator, but knowledge is power. 

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