WJTV Staff - MERIDIAN, Miss. (WJTV) - Attorney General Jim Hood is warning residents of an IRS phone scam.
The scammers call claiming to be an agent for the IRS or the Federal Treasury Department. The victim is told "this is their Official Final Notice – the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you". He or she "owes money to the IRS" and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, the scammer threatens the victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver's license.
Victims may even be told they have a refund in an effort to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an "urgent" callback request. These con artists are intimidating and sound convincing, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may even know a lot about their targets, and they may even alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Meredith Aldridge, Director of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division said, "These scammers continue to search for their next victim before, during and even after tax season."
These are tips from AG Hood's office:
THE IRS WILL NEVER --
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card, or request that you wire a payment.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
- Use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds.
If you know YOU OWE taxes or think you might owe the IRS any amount, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
If you know you DON'T OWE taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
Follow these KEY TIPS for this scam and others similar to it:
- DO NOT answer the phone for a number you do not recognize or that shows up as your own.
- If you do answer, HANG UP the minute you realize it is a scam. Even answering simple questions in the affirmative or negative could be used to try to scam you.
- BE SUSPICIOUS of anyone who is vague in identifying themselves on the phone.
- NEVER wire or send money in any form to persons or organizations you do not know.
- ALWAYS protect your personally identifiable information. Giving out personal information out could cause you to become a victim of identity theft.