IRS warns of telephone tax scam called a ‘serious threat’

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The IRS says they have received 90,000 complaints about the scam. (Photo: Thinkstock)

The IRS says they have received thousands of complaints about the scam. (Photo: Thinkstock)

NEW YORK – Have you gotten suspicious calls from the Internal Revenue Service ‘authorities’ as tax season nears in 2016?

If so, you can ignore them – they are nothing but the latest scam plaguing taxpayers nationwide, according to the IRS.  Nassau County officials have also issued a warning, saying that residents have been targeted recently.

“There are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Some schemes may say you’re entitled to a huge refund. These all add up to trouble. Some simple tips can help protect you.”

Here are five things scammers do but the IRS never does:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Nassau County officials are reporting multiple cases of people getting calls claiming that they or a family member owe money for unpaid taxes.  In order to avoid arrest, foreclosure or possible termination from their jobs, the crooks claim, they can make a payment over the phone.

That should be a huge warning sign, as the IRS doesn’t ever ask for credit card information over the phone, much less a wire transfers of pre-paid debit cards.

In Nassau County, officials are warning of the following tactics:

  • Scammers using fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

This particular scam has popped up with tax season nearing, officials say, but people should take care to avoid lottery sweepstakes and debt relief rip-off calls, which can happen at any time of year.

“Taxpayers across the nation face a deluge of these aggressive phone scams. Don’t be fooled by callers pretending to be from the IRS in an attempt to steal your money,” said Koskinen. “We continue to say if you are surprised to be hearing from us, then you’re not hearing from us.”

Anyone who is wondering whether or not she owes taxes can call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

If you have information that could lead to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible are asked to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS (8477).  All calls remain anonymous.