Local police warn of fake IRS call scam

More than $23 million has been stolen, nationally, with fake calls

By Lauren Parker- Gill, Staff Writer, The Times

IRSlogoWEST CALN – With tax season in full swing, some Chester County local police departments are warning residents of phone and email scams from individuals claiming to represent the IRS.

Phone scammers are using fake names and IRS badge numbers, along with a toll free number that appears to be the IRS on caller ID. In some cases, they are also armed with the last four digits of the victims’ Social Security number.

Victims of the scam report hearing background noise similar to that of a call center, as they were told they owe money to the IRS and that it must be paid immediately via a preloaded debit card, MoneyGram or by transferring funds electronically.

If victims refuse to cooperate, the callers have become hostile in an attempt to intimidate them into paying, by threatening jail time, deportation or revoking the driver’s license of the victim. The phone scammers have also been known to follow up the phone call by calling again, pretending to be the local police or the Department of Motor Vehicles, altering the caller id to appear as those agencies. Emails on what appears to be official IRS letterhead, have also been reported.

West Caln police Chief Curt Martinez reports that locally, 10 residents have reported receiving phone calls, with two people unknowingly sending several thousand dollars to the scammers.

Martinez states that he too, received a call from scammers claiming to be the IRS.

“I received a call from them as well. I told them that the police were contacted and that the number was traced.” Martinex said in an email.

According to the IRS website, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) there have been approximately 736,000 reports of IRS scams since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have paid over $23 million nationwide as a result of these scams.

Martinez further states that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or any type of electronic communication, including but not limited to text messages and social media channels. They will not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

Here are some important reminders from the IRS website. The IRS will not:

  • Call you if you owe taxes, without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

If you do receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately and do not give out personal information. Call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to speak with a representative.

To report a phone scam attempt, contact your local police department to file a report and/or the TIGTA through the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page, or by calling 800-366-4484.

If you receive a suspicious email, you are urged not to click any links or open attachments. Instead, it is recommended that you forward the email to: phishing@irs.gov

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