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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 11:56 am | A Few Clouds 60º

 
 
 
 

Don’t Be Victim of Scammers Claiming to Be From IRS

The Internal Revenue Service has provided warnings about a telephone scam targeting taxpayers regarding the upcoming tax season. The Santa Barbara Police Department believes it is important to provide this information to local residents so they don’t fall victim to this scam or others like it.

The IRS is alerting consumers to a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

In the scam, victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.

In many cases, the caller/scammer becomes hostile and insulting.

“This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel.

“Rest assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer,” he said.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” he said.

The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail.

Other characteristics of this scam include:

» 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 the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear 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.
» After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

» If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue — if there really is such an issue.

» If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

» You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Taxpayers should also be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure.

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 [email protected]

More information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS is available on the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov.

In addition to contacting the IRS, contact the Santa Barbara Police Department, 897-2300 if you believe you or any one you know has been the victim of this type or any other type of phone or internet scam.

— Joshua Morton for Santa Barbara Police Department.

 

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