Don’t fall for an IRS phone scam

VICTORIA, Texas–Tax season is here, and Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin is warning people about an IRS phone scam that circulates during filing season. BBB regularly receives reports from people who allege they received calls from scammers impersonating IRS agents.

IRS impersonators make threats of arrest, deportation and license revocation if they don’t receive immediate payment. The scammers instruct people to put money on a prepaid debit card, an iTunes gift card or send payment via wire transfer.

Last October, police in India raided a call center and arrested several people for allegedly posing as IRS agents. Shortly after, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted dozens of individuals and five call centers in India were charged for alleged involvement. IRS impersonators extorted as much as $150,000 a day from U.S. victims.

Since 2015, BBB Scam Tracker has received more than 48,000 reports of this scam nationwide. More than 4,000 reports of this scam came from Texas. In the last year, Texans reported losing more than $27,000 to this phone scam.

BBB offers this advice to avoid getting scammed:

Look out for Caller ID spoofing. Part of scammers’ tactics include Caller ID spoofing, which happens when the caller masks their own number and causes the number of a well-known service, like the IRS, to appear on Caller ID. Also, the caller might give a badge number and know the last four digits of your Social Security number. Protect your personal information. Don’t provide any account number or other financial information over the phone. Don’t be bullied. Never trust callers who use threats and hostility to push you into doing what they want. Be skeptical of what a caller claims he or she can do if you refuse to meet their demand. Hang up. Consider joining the Do Not Call Registry to cut down on telemarketing and sales calls. This may not help with scammers, but you’ll get fewer calls overall. This may help you more quickly notice the ones that could be fraudulent. Report it. If you’re unsure if the call is real, contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov. Write down the number, name of the caller and other details, and report it to BBB Scam Tracker and the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to help warn others. BBB also shares Scam Tracker information with government and law enforcement agencies, so every piece of information is helpful in tracking down scammers.

BBB wants people to remember that the IRS will never contact you by phone or email, and they won’t ask for immediate payment in the form of a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS only contacts people by mail.

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