IRS urges Kentuckians to stay alert for phone scam


Special to Civitas Media



DETROIT — The IRS continues to warn consumers throughout Kentucky to remain on guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or their identity. Criminals pose as the IRS agents and use threats to trick victims into sending money or giving personal information. Recent reports of scam calls concentrating in Kentucky have IRS officials strongly urging Kentuckians to remain vigilant and avoid becoming a victim.

“This scam has hit taxpayers all over the country but at the moment appear to be focusing on Kentucky. We want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves,” said IRS Spokesperson Luis Garcia. “If you get a call claiming to be from the IRS that threatens police arrest, deportation, foreclosure or license revocation if you don’t pay immediately, you can be certain it is not really the IRS.”

Consumers need to know:

The IRS will not:

· Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.

· Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.

· Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.

· Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

· Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

Scammer techniques include:

· Unsolicited calls. Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.

· Trying to scare their victims. Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.

· Use of caller ID spoofing. Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

· Cons try new tricks all the time. Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

· Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

· Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.

· Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

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Special to Civitas Media

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