NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—As the annual tax deadline of April 15 approaches, tens of thousands of Americans are falling victim to scams that begin with a telephone call.
As of August 2014, more than $5 million have been scammed from an estimated 1,100 taxpayers through bogus phone calls from people pretending to be representatives of official government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The callers often demand immediate payment and threaten arrest or the freezing of assets.
“There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout the nation,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“Taxpayers should remember their first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail,” Koskinen urged.
After receiving over 90,000 complaints, the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration continue to urge taxpayers to not comply with the demands of the impostors and simply hang up the phone.
Through the use of fake names and IRS badge numbers, the con artists extort taxpayers with threats of collection, lien/levy, and imprisonment.
In some cases, scammers have sent phony IRS emails to victims to persuade victims to trust them.
“A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how we operate. People should hang up immediately and contact TIGTA or the IRS.”
The IRS urges taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams.
Moreover, the IRS is continuously reminding taxpayers that the IRS will never demand an immediate credit card, debit card or paypal payment over the telephone or internet.
If you feel you have been a victim, more information is available at the IRS website.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.