IRS scam targets local residents
By LPR Staff
Receiving a call from the Internal Revenue Service should naturally be a cause for concern for every taxpaying Texan. However, the real concern might not be what you think.
A local resident contacted her CPA this week, concerned about a telephone call she had received, allegedly from the IRS threat
ening a lawsuit over unpaid taxes. However, the IRS doesn’t make telephone calls to notify taxpayers about unpaid taxes – their first contact will always be via the US Postal Service.
A scam warning initially issued by the IRS in October 2013 has been renewed recently, as the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration referenced “the largest scam of its kind.”
Early this year, the IRS had received reports of more than 20,000 contacts related to the scam, including thousands of victims and over $1 million in payments to the fraudsters.
Clearly, based on information obtained locally this week, the scam is still going strong, and taking in taxpayers who are naturally concerned about threats of litigation.
“The IRS urges you to be vigilant against the many different types of tax scams. Their common goal is to steal your money, and often to steal your identity,” said a statement released by the IRS this spring “Visit the genuine IRS website, IRS.gov, for more on what you should do to avoid becoming a victim.”
In the scam, the perpetrators pose as IRS agents and make unsolicited calls to their targets. They often tell the targets they owe back taxes, and demand payment to avoid a Federal lawsuit. In addition to threats of litigation, victims are often threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of state- or Federally-issued licenses.
The scammers are likely to know the last four digits of their target’s Social Security numbers, and use common names and fake IRS badge numbers. In addition, they will send bogus emails to support their initial telephonic claims, and tamper with Caller ID to make it appear as though the call is really calling from IRS.
Further, according to IRS, the perpetrators are known to make follow-up calls posing as law enforcement or licensing agencies to support their initial claim, again using manipulated Caller ID to support the ruse.
Would-be targets are urged to remember that the IRS will never ask for PIN numbers for bank or credit accounts, or demand payment using wire transfer or pre-paid credit card, nor will the IRS ask for a credit card over the phone. They will also not initiate contact via email, text or social media channels to obtain information or request account information.
Upon receiving a call from an individual claiming to be the IRS, taxpayers are encouraged to take action. If a taxpayer owes, or thinks they might owe, Federal taxes, they should hang up and call the IRS at (800) 829-1040, and allow IRS workers to assist with payment options. If a would-be victim knows they don’t owe taxes, the incident should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General at (800) 366-4484 or online at www.ftc.gov, with “IRS Telephone Scam” in the comments.
If you suspect you may have been targeted for this crime, in addition to taking the steps previously listed, contact local law enforcement to make a report. It is only through reporting scams such as these that the community can be forewarned, and thus forearmed. The Lockhart Police Department can be reached at (512) 398-4401 and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department can be reached at (512) 398-6777.