Scam Remains Aggressive, Has Several Variations
WASHINGTON, DC—Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the Senate Aging Committee, is warning of a recurring IRS phone scam. Through this scam, of which there are multiple variations, con artists demand immediate payment and threaten retaliation, such as home foreclosure and even arrest. if payment on “back taxes” is not made.
These scam calls most often involve a disguised, or “spoofed” Caller ID to make the victim believe that the call is coming from the “202” area code, or Washington, DC, where the US Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service are headquartered. In a newer variation of this scam, calls appear to be coming from a “509,” or the Washington State area code.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has called this scam the largest, most pervasive impersonation scam in the history of the IRS.
Senator Collins said, “Putting a stop these aggressive and ruthless scams, such as these IRS phone scams, is among my highest priorities as Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee.” She was alerted to the scam by numerous seniors in Maine reporting these calls to the Senate Aging Committee Fraud Hotline: 1-855-303-9470.
With such scams reaching epidemic proportions across the country, the IRS has released several tips to help taxpayers identify suspicious calls that may be part of a scam:
• The IRS will never call a taxpayer to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill to the taxpayer.
• The IRS will never demand that a taxpayer pay taxes without giving him or her the opportunity to question or appeal the amount claimed to be owed.
• The IRS will never ask for a credit or debit card number over the phone.
• The IRS will never threaten to send local police or other law enforcement to have a taxpayer arrested.
• The IRS will never require a taxpayer to use a specific payment method for taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
Senator Collins advises seniors to simply hang up the phone if they receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. In addition, complaints can be made to the FTC (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or 1-877-382-4357), TIGTA (www.tigta.gov), or to the Senate Aging Committee’s fraud hotline: 1-855-303-9470.
On April 15th, Senator Collins chaired an Aging Committee hearing that examined how the scam works, what seniors can do to keep from falling victim to it, and what law enforcement is doing. The hearing can be viewed on the Committee’s website http://www.aging.senate.gov/hearings.