His department has been “inundated with reports of tax fraud and IRS scam calls,” the chief said.
In some cases, people have been unable to legitimately file their tax returns because an identity thief used their Social Security numbers, Papapietro said.
In other cases, he said, people have been scared into giving up money by callers pretending to be from the IRS.
The victims “were advised they were about to be arrested for unpaid taxes,” Papapietro said. “Another victim was advised his driver’s license and credit cards have been suspended and frozen.
“The victims were advised they could settle the problem by immediately paying the amount owed. They were instructed to purchase Green Dot money packs in various amounts and to give the caller the serial numbers of each card.
“Two of the victims each lost over $5,000,” the chief said.
Some of the scammers have used fake I.R.S. badge numbers or use common names / surnames to identify themselves. They may even know the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number, which can be retrieved from various bills or through online account hacking.
They can make the IRS toll-free number appear on caller ID and may follow up with an email.
FACT: The I.R.S. doesn’t call anyone to directly ask for money, Papapietro noted.
It also doesn’t email anyone for personal information such as a Social Security number, date of birth, bank account numbers, or passwords, he said.
If you think you owe the I.R.S. money, the chief said, call and ask the agency directly (800-829-1040). If you get a scam call, notify your local police department immediately.
MORE INFO: IRS warns of phone scams
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