Consumer Alerts: Tax Scams

irs-scamIRS fraud phone calls are out of control. I’ve received two in less than 6 months! The Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration  warns that scammers posing as IRS officials are contacting people claiming they owe taxes. The caller demands a prepaid debit card, wire transfer or a credit card number for payment. If the person doesn’t comply, the caller threatens to arrest or deport the target, or take away their driver’s license or business.Vee Johnson, Community Outreach Liaison for Consumer Affairs, Department of Cable and Consumer Services for Fairfax County offers this advice:

Why are IRS scams so prevalent?  “The IRS is a favorite target for scammers.  Each year, the IRS publishes the “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams that start with tax season but flourish throughout the year.   Check out this list so you will be prepared and know what to do when scammers contact you by phone, mail, or mobile devices.To report an IRS impersonation scam, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or call 1-800-366-4484.”

How can you tell if it’s a scam and not the real thing?
“You can never be sure if a call you receive is the real thing or a scam.  Remember that you are not obligated to listen or talk when you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming they are from a government agency or when they have some information about you.   The IRS and other government agencies never initiate contact with us by phone, email, text, or mobile devices to demand money or personal information. If you are curious about the call, hang up and contact the IRS direct using the information they provide to get reliable, accurate information. “

Is it ok to return a phone call if you’re not sure it is a scam? “When you return a call to a scammer, they will demand that you send money right away.  While they will take a credit card number, they prefer a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer.  Unlike a credit card, that leaves a financial footprint that can be traced or tracked, a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer is like giving away cash.  They leave no paper trail to find or stop the fraud from continuing.  Millions of dollars lost to scams are never recovered.”

What can be done if you receive an  unsolicited threatening call from an “agency” demanding money?”

Vee: “When you receive an unsolicited call from an aggressive, demanding, threatening caller, don’t expect honesty or truthfulness.  Take a deep breath.  Don’t engage the stranger with answers, questions, or comments.  Scammers know the power of words and will try to use our phones as a weapon to make us feel vulnerable or intimated so they can get our money or personal information.  Keep control of your phone and do whatever makes you feel good to hang up quickly. Tell others about the scam so they know what to do if they become a target.  Report the scam and congratulate yourself on not becoming the victim of this pervasive scam. “

VF Johnson-703-324-5959
Community Outreach Liaison
Consumer Affairs
Department of Cable and Consumer Services
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 433
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

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