With tax season here, the Internal Revenue Service is warning employers and employees to be on high alert for a “sophisticated phone scam” targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, that has been making the rounds in the tri-state area.
During the last two tax seasons, taxpayers have been receiving aggressive calls from fraudsters claiming to be IRS employees, using fake names and phony ID badge numbers, officials said, warning that the scammers tend to know pertinent information about their targets and can alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Officials said that victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Scammers have also used video relay services in an effort to scam deaf and those hard of hearing. Taxpayers have been warned not to trust calls just because they are made through a relay service, as interpreters don’t screen calls for validity. Additionally, residents with a limited English proficiency have been approached by scammers in their native language, threatened with deportation, arrest and license revocation if they are not paid.
An alert was issued by the IRS, noting that the organization does not:
- 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 you a bill if you owe any taxes.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
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