Beware of telephone scammers pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Serivce. They're not.

The IRS never asks for personal information over the phone.
The IRS never asks for personal information over the phone.
By Roger Winslow, Vice President
Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Santa Clara County 

We’ve noticed that telephone scammers pretending to be from the Internal Revenue Service are making calls in Santa Clara County. They are after money and personal information that can lead to identity theft. They can sound quite official, but they are far from it.

 Thanks to some great information from the IRS, I can fill you in on the scam, how to identify it, how to avoid it and how to report it.

 Calling from a place that sounds like a call center, often in a foreign country, the scammers use common American names and fake IRS badge numbers. They may be able to recite the last four numbers of your Social Security number. They can even spoof the IRS number on caller identification.

 They’ll tell you that you owe money to the IRS. They’ll say that the money must be paid immediately through a pre-loaded debit card or a wire transfer. They’ll threaten you with being deported or arrested or losing your driver’s license.

 After the threats, they hang up. Then other scammers call you back and claim to be from the sheriff’s office, local police, the California Franchise Tax Board or the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles. The real numbers of those agencies may appear in the caller ID.

 You should know that:

·       The IRS does not ask for credit card numbers, PINs, passwords or other confidential information over the phone.

·       It doesn’t use email to request financial or personal information. It doesn’t use text messages or social media channels either. 

·       The IRS uses the U.S. Mail to get in contact with people on tax issues, not emails or telephone calls.  

Here’s what to do if you get a call or email like that.

·       Hang up on the caller.

 ·       Don’t open the email. Remember, if it’s an email, it’s not from the IRS. If you open it accidentally, don’t click on any links. Forward it to phishing@irs.gov.  The IRS’s real website is IRS.gov.

 ·       If you know you owe taxes or think you might, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040. Employees can help you out with a payment issue. There may not even be an issue at all.

 ·       If you know that you’re all caught up on your taxes, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800)366-4484. Please also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments section.

The legitimate mailing address for the IRS in California is: 
Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service Center, Fresno, CA  93888-0099.

Fortunately, once you know the basics of this scam, you won't become a victim. The scam is an easy one to avoid and an easy one to report.

# # #

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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