More than $1 million has been stolen from victims in a massive IRS phone scam. Here's what you need to know to protect yourself.
Be wary if you answer your phone and the caller says he’s an IRS agent. It could be a scam – the largest the Internal Revenue Service has ever seen.
The U.S. Treasury Department says more than 20,000 taxpayers have alerted the government about the scam, and victims have lost more than $1 million total.
This is how it works: A bogus IRS agent calls and claims the intended victim owes taxes, then demands immediate payment with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
The fraudsters often know the last four digits of victims’ Social Security numbers. If victims protest the immediate payment request, the phony agent threatens arrest, deportation, or the loss of a business or driver’s license.
A press release from Treasury also made note of these details about the scam, which is being perpetrated across the country:
- The callers use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
- Your caller ID is tricked into making it look as if the IRS is calling.
- The scammers send bogus IRS emails to support their claim.
- They call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George said in the release, “If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling.”
If you have unpaid taxes, the IRS will probably use the mail to contact you. And the IRS doesn’t ask for payment via a prepaid card or wire transfer, nor would it request credit card information on the phone.
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” George said. “The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming.”
You’re asked to report any suspicious IRS requests directly to the IRS.
Have you gotten one of these calls? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.
Also check out this video Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson made about other tax scams you should be on the alert for this year.