Scam calls continue to plague people

IRS identifies ways to spot suspicious calls

DENVER — The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert recently providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

These callers may demand money or may say there is a refund due and try to trick a person into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. When there is no answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation, lawsuit or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” said Karen Connelly, IRS spokeswoman. “The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue will occur via mail. Don’t get involved in a tax scam or be bullied by a con artist.”

The IRS reminds people how to spot an “IRS” caller as a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. The IRS will never do the following:

Call about taxes owed without first mailing an official notice; Demand payment for taxes without giving an opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say is owed; Require a specific payment method for taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to arrest for not paying.

If a phone call is received from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what to do:

• Those who think they owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS employees can help with a payment method or plan.

• Those who do not owe taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.

• Those who have been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of the complaint.

Remember, too, the IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss personal tax issues. For information, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

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